General info

All info has been updated as of July 2018.

California has a complex permitting system. The California Division of Fish and Wildlife has now (July 2018) published a comprehensive revision of its scientific collection permit regulations.

Phasing out of existing application forms. Any permit issued prior to October 1, 2018, or any issued permit that was applied for by September 30, 2018 using the existing hard copy forms will be valid until the expiration date listed on that permit. However, all new applications, amendments to existing permits and permit renewals requested on or after October 1, 2018 will require submission in the new SCP online application portal, and adherence to the new SCP regulations (refer to Title 14, link opens in new windowSubsection 650(a)(7), CCR for more information).

In an effort to promote a smooth transition into the new regulations, the Department will accept and process applications under the existing regulations and hard-copy forms through September 30, 2018. This will allow affected permitholders to continue their permitted activities without interruption in their scheduled field and/or laboratory activities, after the new regulations become effective October 1, 2018.

Applications submitted via the new online application portal starting October 1, 2018 will be processed concurrently with applications on the existing hard copy forms submitted by September 30, 2018. If a permitholder anticipates needing to amend or renew their existing permit in the next three or so months, or throughout that permit’s term, it is in the permitholder’s best interest to wait, if practicable, until October 1, 2018 or later, to apply under the online application portal, for the following reasons:

  • Applications to amend or renew existing permits will not be accepted after September 30, 2018 in the existing hard copy process, under current regulations. An amendment to, or renewal of, an existing permit on and after October 1, 2018 will require the permitholder to apply (as a new applicant in accordance to the new permit and fee structure) in the online application portal. This way the permitholder pays just the new permit fees (Question 8 in the FAQs), rather than paying existing fees to amend or renew before September 30, 2018, in addition to paying new permit fees when coming in to use the new online application portal after October 1, 2018.
  • Once active, early use of the online application portal will also assist:
    • Department’s IT staff to identify and then work out any issues not identified during beta-testing.
    • Department review staff to process the queue of existing applications under the existing hard copy process.

The Department highly recommends that a permitholder whose existing SCP does not expire until January 1, 2019 or later, wait to amend or renew an existing SCP under the new online application portal. This will help the Department process applications in the order received, and work with applicants to help maintain permit coverage for necessary periods of work (see also Question 6 of the FAQs).

Up-front payment of permit fee. Currently, the non-refundable application fee is required when an application is submitted, and then the permit fee is requested separately when the permit is approved. Effective July 15, 2018, new applicants or renewing permitholders under the existing hard copy process will be required to submit at the same time both the application fee ($108.92, or $27.04 for students) and the permit fee ($324.75, or $54.59 for students) to the Department’s License and Revenue Branch (LRB) at the time of application submission. This will help the Department:

  • Finalize permits issued under the existing system sooner, to better facilitate a smooth transition to the new online application portal.
  • Phase out these older license items earlier; Department staff will not have to delay issuance while requesting permit fees upon permit approval (from applicants applying under the existing system between July 15 and September 30, 2018).
  • Encourage applicants to save a few dollars by avoiding the annual fee adjustments for any permits issued after December 31, 2018. Department license items are adjusted annually in January pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 713. Therefore, if the application is approved in early 2019, then the applicant would have to pay the higher, adjusted fee (up to a 3% increase).


Basics – you will always need a scientific collecting permit (SCP); what is required beyond that depends on the species and how it is classified. Two categories of species – “fully protected” and state-listed endangered and threatened species – require a Memorandum of Understanding in addition to the SCP. Two others – species of special concern and standard exception species *may* require a scientific collecting permit attachment and/or a letter permit in addition to the scientific collecting permit. All others *may* require a scientific collecting permit attachment in addition to the permit. A table of California bird species and status is offered below. Note that all federally listed threatened and endangered species are also considered to be “fully protected” so even if not listed in one of the four California categories, a Memorandum of Agreement is needed. 

An MOU, preceded by a Department-issued 30-day Public Notice, is required for work on species that are Fully Protected. The Public Notice and MOU process for Fully Protected species requires a minimum of 6 weeks processing time. Wildlife Branch will not issue a permit authorizing work on a Federally-listed species until the applicant has provided a copy of the appropriate federal permit.

California also requires an incidental take permit f that take is incidental to otherwise lawful activities (such as permitted research). 

Species Category Type of scientific collecting permit
Scientific Collecting Permit Scientific Collecting Permit Attachment Letter Permit Memorandum of Understanding
Fully Protected Animals YES YES
Threatened, Endangered, or Candidate Species YES YES
Species of Special Concern YES Possibly Possibly Possibly
Standard Exception Animals YES Possibly Possibly Possibly
Other Animals YES Possibly


License and Revenue Branch’s Special Permits Unit

Telephone at (916) 928-5849

Email at

or Justin Garcia

Is a state permit required for banding?

Yes. A permit is required to take, collect, capture, mark, or salvage, for scientific, educational, and non-commercial propagation purposes, mammals, birds and their nests and eggs, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and invertebrates (Fish and Game Code Section 1002 and Title 14 Sections 650 and 670.7). These activities require a Scientific Collecting Permit (SCP). 

Permit application forms

Scientific collecting permit

Salvage: Collecting permits do NOT confer right to salvage. If you want to salvage, be sure to seek authority to salvage.

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. The telephone number also is given on the back of the permit in the text of authorization 10. The disposition of the specimen(s) is at the discretion of the Department.

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.

Scientific collecting permit, amendments


Credit card authorization form

NOTE: Notice of Intent to collect – you must fax this form in at least 24 hours before actually collecting.

Restricted species

FP = Fully Protected

ST = State Threatened

SE = State Endangered

SC = Special Concern

All federally listed threatened and endangered species are also considered to be “fully protected” so even if not listed in one of the four California categories, a Memorandum of Agreement is needed. 

Species FP ST SE SC Stand.


Fulvous Whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor X
Tule Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons elgasi X
Brant Branta bernicla X
Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator X
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus X
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus X
Redhead Aythya americana X
Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus X
Barrow’s Golden-eye Bucephala islandica X
Catalina California Quail


Callipepla californica catalinensis X
Mount Pinos Sooty Grouse


Dendragapus fuliginosus howardi X
Sharp-tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus X
Common Loon Gavia immer X
Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus X
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel


Oceanodroma furcata


Ashy Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma homochroa X
Black Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma melania X
Wood Stork Mycteria americana X
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos X X
California Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis californicus X X
Least Bittern BCR33 Ixobrychus exilis X
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodius X
Great Egret Ardea alba X
Snowy Egret Egretta thula X
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea X
Tri-colored Heron Egretta tricolor X
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens X
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis X
Green Heron Butorides virescens X
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax X
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea X
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus X
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura X
California Condor Gymnogyps californianus X X X
Osprey Pandion haliaetus X
Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus


White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus X X
Mississippi Kite Ictinia mississippiensis


Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus


Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus X X
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus X
Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii X
Northern Goshawk BCR5, Accipiter gentilis X X
Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus X
Harris’s Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus X
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus X
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus X
Gray Hawk Buteo plagiatus X
Swainson’s Hawk Buteo swainsoni X X
Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus X
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis X
Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis X
Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus X
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos X X
Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis X
California Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus X X
California Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris obsoletus X X
Light-footed Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris levipes X X
Yuma Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris yumanensis X X
Greater Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis tabida X X X
Lesser Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis canadensis X
Common Crane Grus grus X
Snowy Plover (interior population) Charadrius alexandrinus


Western Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus nivosus

Synonymous with Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus

Mountain Plover Charadrius montanus X
California Least Tern Sternula antillarum browni X X
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica X
Black Tern Chlidonias niger X
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger X
Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus X
Scripps’s Murrelet (=Xantus’s Murrelet) Synthliboramphus scrippsi


Guadalupe murrelet (=Xantus’s murrelet) Synthliboramphus hypoleucus


Cassin’s Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus X
Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata X
Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus occidentalis X
Barn Owl Tyto alba X
Flammulated Owl Psiloscops flammeolus X
Western Screech-Owl Megascops kennicottii X
Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus X
Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus X
Northern Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium gnoma X
Elf Owl Micrathene whitneyi X X
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia X X
Northern Spotted Owl Strix occidentalis caurina X X
California Spotted Owl Strix occidentalis occidentalis X X
Barred Owl Strix varia X
Great Gray Owl Strix nebulosa X X
Long-eared Owl Asio otus X X
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus X X
Northern Saw-whet Aegolius acadicus X
Black Swift Cypseloides niger X
Vaux’s Swift Chaetura vauxi X
Gila Woodpecker Melanerpes uropygialis X
Gilded (=Gilded northern) Flicker


Colaptes chrysoides

(Listed by the State of California as Colaptes auratus chrysoides)

Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway X
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus X
American Kestrel Falco sparverius X
Merlin Falco columbarius X
Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus X
American Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus anatum X
Arctic Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus tundrius X X
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus X
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi X
Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii


X (State listing includes all subspecies)
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii extimus X (SE)
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus X
Loggerhead Shrike (mainland populations) Lanius ludovicianus X
San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus mearnsi


Island Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus anthonyi X
Arizona Bell’s Vireo Vireo bellii arizonae X
Least Bell’s Vireo Vireo bellii pusillus X
Gray Vireo Vireo vicinior X
Catalina Hutton’s Vireo Vireo huttoni unitti X
Purple Martin Progne subis X
Bank Swallow Riparia riparia X
Clark’s Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris clarkae X
San Clemente Bewick’s Wren Thryomanes bewickii leucophrys X
San Diego Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus sandiegensis X
Coastal California Gnatcatcher Polioptila californica californica X
Bendire’s Thrasher Toxostoma bendirei X
Le Conte’s Thrasher (San Joaquin population) Toxostoma lecontei


Crissal Thrasher Toxostoma crissale X
Lucy’s Warbler Vermivora luciae X
San Francisco Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas sinuosa


Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia X
Sonora Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia sonorana X
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens X
San Clemente Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus clementae


Inyo California towhee


Melozone crissalis eremophilus X
Santa Cruz Island Rufous-crowned Sparrow Aimophila ruficeps obscura


Oregon Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus affinis X
San Clemente Sage Sparrow Artemisiospiza belli clementeae X
Belding’s Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis beldingi X
Large-billed Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis rostratus X
Bryant’s Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis alaudinus X
Song Sparrow (Modesto population) Melospiza melodia X
Santa Barbara Song Sparrow aka Channel Island song sparrow Melospiza melodia graminea


Alameda Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia pusillula X
Suisun Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia maxillaris X
Samuel’s Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia samuelis X
Grasshopper Sparrow Ammodramus savannarum X
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra X
Kern Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus aciculatus X
Tricolored Blackbird Agelaius tricolor X X
Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus X

Incidental take

Incidental take of threatened, endangered, or candidate species by a project must be handled through the CEQA/CESA permit process as a “2081(b) permit” (Fish and Game Code 2081(b); also see section 1190). Monitoring of CEQA required mitigation, however, does require a SCP if handling of animals is involved.

For rare, threatened, endangered, or candidate species, the Memorandum of Understanding that must be issued for take also serves as a “2081(a) permit” under CESA (Fish and Game Code 2081(a)).

It will take a minimum of six weeks to obtain a Memorandum of Understanding.

Take of species covered in a Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) is authorized in the NCCP permit for activities identified in the Plan (Fish and Game Code Section 2835). NCCP take authorization is granted to local governments who may grant take authority to third parties through the local land use planning process.