Scientific collecting (federal)

(check state permits,too)


Federal scientific collecting permits are required for all birds, parts of birds, eggs, and nests for scientific research. This includes blood samples, feathers, stomach and crop contents, tissue samples, cloacal and tracheal swabs. However, blood and feathers can be collecting under a bird banding permit if the samples are to be taken in conjunction with banding/marking. Specify, when applying for the banding permit, that you would also like to take blood and/or feather samples. If you are not planning to band/mark the bird, you must obtain a scientific collecting permit.

Application forms
For species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Pro tip: when applying for your scientific collecting permit, request authority to import and export samples if you also plan to  move samples internationally for analysis and research. Requesting this authority when applying for the original permit obviates the need for later amendments, saving time and money! The Migratory Bird Treaty Act application form expressly provides for a request to import and export.

Pro tip: when applying for your scientific collecting permit, be sure to request salvage authority so you won’t need a separate permit for salvage … saves time & money. The application form expression provides for a request for salvage authority.

See here for additional requirements for species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Note: to import or export research samples under the Endangered Species Act, a separate permit is needed. See the Ornithological Council’s Import Guide.

Limits on take

The USFWS regulations, below, set no specific limits on take. For many years, permit biologists limited take to three individuals per species per year. After extensive discussions with the Ornithological Council, USFWS staff in 1997 drafted a policy on scientific collecting that raised the limit to 10 individuals per species per year for species on the USFWS list of Birds of Conservation Concern  unless specific justification is given for a higher number. Otherwise, the limit would be fifty individuals per year per species, unless specific justification is given for a higher number. As of 2010, this draft policy had not yet been finalized. Some USFWS regions have nonetheless been following the policy while others have not. The Ornithological Council has asked the USFWS to finalize the policy. Meanwhile, ornithologists who face permit challenges should contact the Ornithological Council for assistance.



Subpart C_Specific Permit Provisions

Sec. 21.23  Scientific collecting permits.

(a) Permit requirement. A scientific collecting permit is required  before any person may take, transport, or possess migratory birds, their  parts, nests, or eggs for scientific research or educational purposes.

(b) Application procedures. Submit applications for scientific  permits to the appropriate Regional Director (Attention: Migratory bird  permit office). You can find addresses for the Regional Directors in 50  CFR 2.2.

Each application must contain the general information and  certification required in Sec. 13.12(a) of this subchapter, and the  following additional information:

(1) Species and numbers of migratory birds or their parts, nests, or  eggs to be taken or acquired when it is possible to determine same in  advance;
(2) Location or locations where such scientific collecting is  proposed;
(3) Statement of the purpose and justification for granting such a  permit, including an outline of any research project involved;
(4) Name and address of the public, scientific, or educational  institution to which all specimens ultimately will be donated; and
(5) If a State permit is required by State law, a statement as to  whether or not the applicant possesses such State permit, giving its  number and expiration date.

(c) Additional permit conditions. In addition to the general  conditions set forth in part 13 of this subchapter B, scientific  collecting permits shall be subject to the following conditions:

(1) All specimens taken and possessed under authority of a  scientific collecting permit must be donated and transferred to the  public scientific, or educational institution designated in the permit  application within 60 days following the date such permit expires or is  revoked, unless the permittee has been issued a special purpose permit  (See Sec. 21.27) authorizing possession for a longer period of time.
(2) Unless otherwise provided on the permit, all migratory game  birds taken pursuant to a scientific collecting permit during the open  hunting season for such birds must be in conformance with part 20 of  this subchapter;
(3) Unless specifically stated on the permit, a scientific  collecting permit does not authorize the taking of live migratory birds  from the wild.
(4) In addition to any reporting requirement set forth in the  permit, a report of the scientific collecting activities conducted under  authority of such permit shall be submitted to the issuing officer on or  before January 10 of each calendar year following the year of issue  unless a different date is stated in the permit.

(d) Term of permit. A scientific collecting permit issued or renewed  under this part expires on the date designated on the face of the permit  unless amended or revoked, but the term of the permit shall not exceed  three (3) years from the date of issuance or renewal.