Last updated March 2023

General info

California Division of Fish and Wildlife in 2018 published a comprehensive revision of its scientific collection permit regulations.

Basics – you will always need a scientific collecting permit (SCP) – see below for information on the two different types. What is required beyond that depends on the species and how it is classified.

Threatened and Endangered CESA listed species (either directly or incidentally) requires a CESA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the appropriate CDFW review program

Take of species listed as Fully Protected by the State requires a Fully Protected MOU from the appropriate CDFW review program

Take of Threatened and Endangered ESA listed species requires a Federal ESA authorization, typically, a section 10(a)(1)(A), or 4(d) authorization.


License and Revenue Branch’s Special Permits Unit

Telephone at (916) 928-5849

Email at

or Chad Hirano

Is a state permit required for banding?

Yes. Fish and Game Code (FGC) sections 1002, 1002.5 and 1003 authorize the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) to issue permits for the take or possession of wildlife, including mammals, birds and the nests and eggs thereof, reptiles, amphibians, fish, certain plants and invertebrates for scientific, educational, and propagation purposes. The Department currently implements this authority through Section 650, Title 14, California Code of Regulations (CCR), by issuing Scientific Collecting Permits (SCP) to take or possess wildlife for such purposes.

Permit application portal

Apply through the scientific collecting permit portal.  Read the Pre-application Guide to determine which type of SCP, and how many, you need.

The General Use SCP is a streamlined, lower cost SCP for low impact and non-invasive methods (i.e., low levels of accidental injury or mortality), such as capture and release for presence/absence or biological inventory surveys, or field classes/ demonstrations for non- sensitive, or common wildlife species.

The Specific Use SCP covers a broader range of species, including those species or taxa considered to be “Prohibited Wildlife” in each General Use Authorization, and activities that have higher likelihood of accidental injury or mortality. As such, applicants need to provide a more detailed description of all proposed activities, including the species, geographic locations, methods, and procedures.

A Specific Use SCP is the appropriate permit for a focused study or a more complex planned undertaking that involves Prohibited Wildlife, methods, and procedures not covered under a General Use SCP, and/or review by more than one CDFW review program. In this context, a focused study involves activities that address specific research question(s), usually within a defined temporal and geographic scope. In contrast, a planned undertaking may involve multiple studies and/or activities sharing a fundamental scope with unifying goals and objectives. As noted above, SCPs are issued for activities under three primary purposes: science, education, and propagation. An individual study or planned undertaking for a Specific Use SCP may include activities from one of more of these three primary purposes.

Scientific research includes a wide variety of activities that meet the definition under Section 650(c)(1), for example: (1) contribute to the knowledge of wildlife biology, and/or related biological, ecological, or environmental fields; and (2) provide research and/or management data important or necessary to promote the protection, conservation or management of California’s natural resources. For the purposes of this Guide, scientific research activities are divided into broad categories, including but not limited to: study, inventory, monitoring, and ecological communities.

  • Study involves activities to address one or more specific research question(s) that usually have a defined temporal or geographic scope.
  • Inventory involves activities to gather baseline data or presence/absence data in one or more locations at a specific point in time.
  • Monitoring involves repeated sampling using the same methods during set time periods over several years to detect trends over time, and may also include experiments or focused studies to understand the underlying mechanisms for detected patterns (e.g., effectiveness monitoring).
  • Ecological communities involve understanding community interactions of species in the same ecosystem at a particular site, or for comparison across many sites, and may include wildlife from more than one CDFW review program.

General Use SCPs do NOT confer right to salvage. If you want to salvage, be sure to seek authority to salvage through a Specific Use SCP.

No one, even a holder of a Scientific Collecting Permit (SCP), can pick up road kills, native bird feathers, or collect owl pellets or other animal parts without a SCP authorizating the salvage of dead amphibians, reptiles, birds, and/or mammals.

If you salvage any Standard Exception species, you must contact the Department at (916) 653 – 4875 within two business days. .

Salvaged specimens should be deposited in a public scientific or educational institution. In general, if open to the public, a depository doesn’t need to have a permit to possess the specimens. However, we suggest that each specimen received is accompanied by documentation of legal take.


Amendments for the General Use follow the respective form for each review program (DFW 1379GFA, GMA or GWA).

Amendments for the Specific Use follows the respective form – DFW 1379SA.

Amendments are to be completed within the Scientific Collecting Permit Portal.

Restricted species

Lists of protected species are available here.

Incidental take

Incidental Take Permits allow a permittee to take a CESA-listed species if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. These permits are most commonly issued for construction, utility, transportation, and other infrastructure-related projects. Permittees must implement species-specific minimization and avoidance measures, and fully mitigate the impacts of the project. (Fish & G. Code § 2081 (b); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, §§ 783.2-783.8)