Last updated July 2020


Iowa DNR
Licensing Section
Wallace State Office Building
502 East 9th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0034
Phone (515) 281-5918

Is a state permit required for banding?


Iowa Code
Title XI Natural Resources
Chapter 481A Wildlife Conservation

481A.66 Banding or marking. It shall be unlawful for any person to capture birds or animals for banding purposes except that the commission may, after investigation, issue a permit to any person permitting the person to capture birds or animals for the purpose of banding or marking same for scientific study, but no such birds or animals may be killed or injured or retained in possession, but must be liberated safely and promptly. Such permit may be revoked at any time for cause. Each holder of such permit shall report to the commission once each month the number, kind of birds or animals banded, and the band numbers.

Permit application forms

  • Application Form
  • Renewal – same form
  • Threatened and Endangered – same form; Work with threatened or endangered species requires approval by the appropriate bureau and the authorization of the Director of the Department of Natural Resources or the Director’s designee.
  • Salvage

State lands

In your project proposal, be sure to state that you would like to work on state property. The permit biologist will contact the appropriate land managers to secure permission for you.

Prior notice

Check permit conditions. As a matter of good practice, it is always a good idea to consult the land owner or manager before working in a particular location, so as to avoid conflicts with management activities, prior scheduled uses of the property, with the general public, and to assure the safety of the researcher and field assistants.


Title 571, Chapter 111 of the Iowa Administrative Code


“Scientific collector’s license” means a license which authorizes the holder to take, for scientific purposes only, any birds, nests, eggs or mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, invertebrates, plants or parts thereof which are protected by state regulations.
“Wildlife rehabilitation permit” means a permit which authorizes the holder to take and temporarily possess injured, sick or orphaned state-protected species of birds, mammals, amphibians or reptiles with the intent to return the animal to its natural habitat as soon as possible.
“Wildlife salvage permit” means a permit which authorizes the holder to possess, for natural resource education programs, any state-protected species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, or invertebrates which have died as the result of natural causes or accidents (i.e., road-kills, window-kills or tower-kills) or specimens which have been donated by the department of natural resources.

Scientific collector’s license.
A scientific collector’s license may, after investigation, be issued to any university, college or person engaged in a scientific project approved by the department of natural resources.

This license may be issued for a period of up to three years.

Species, numbers, geographic location, and collection methods must be identified in the application narrative and approved by the department of natural resources.

Wildlife salvage permit.
A wildlife salvage permit may be issued to any university, college, school, county conservation board, public agency, other organization or person engaged in a natural resource education program approved by the department of natural resources.

This permit may be issued for a period of up to three years.

Special approval is required for the salvage of abandoned bird nests, not including raptor nests. This permit does not authorize any taking or possession of live animals.

All threatened and endangered species which have died, which must be euthanized, or which cannot be released shall be referred to the department of natural resources. The department of natural resources shall provide these specimens to persons who hold a scientific collector’s license, a wildlife salvage permit, or an educational project permit or shall provide for proper disposal.

General conditions for permits.

1. Applications will not be approved for private collections or for commercial use of protected species.
2. Any costs incurred by the permittee for the administration of any permit authorized by this chapter of rules will be the responsibility of the permittee.
3. Scientific collecting licenses, wildlife salvage permits, general educational project permits, with the exception of those for raptors, will generally be issued in the name of the institution or organization. The principal collector or permit holder will be listed on the permit and be responsible for administering the license or permit. All persons collecting or working under the authority of the license or permit shall carry a copy of the permit and a letter of authorization from the principal license or permit holder.
4. Educational project permits for raptors and wildlife rehabilitation permits may list an institution or organization, but also must list the person or persons with the qualifications for that particular permit. These permits do not necessarily continue with the institution or organization if the person or persons listed on the permits leave. If replacement personnel with the proper qualifications for the permit or permits are found, then the permit or permits will stay in the institution’s or organization’s name.
5. Specimens collected or possessed under any license or permit authorized by this chapter of rules remain the property of the state of Iowa. The department of natural resources reserves the right to determine the disposition of all specimens collected under authority of these permits.
6. Records, facilities and inventories must be made available for inspection by officers of the department of natural resources during reasonable hours.
7. Records of collections and the manner in which specimens have been acquired and their disposition must be kept current at all times. Rehabilitation permits must be updated within 24 hours of the event. All other permits must be updated within 48 hours of the event.
8. Authorization to collect or possess endangered or threatened species requires special permission and must comply with provisions established in Iowa Code chapter 481B.
9. A representative of the department of natural resources must be notified within 72 hours of taking or holding of threatened or endangered species that are found dead and within 24 hours for those that are injured or sick.
10. A licensed rehabilitator or veterinarian must determine if a raptor is permanently crippled before it can be held under an educational project permit.
11. License or permit fees will be $5 for one year, $10 for two years, and $15 for three years.
12. Applicants for scientific collecting, wildlife rehabilitation, and educational projects must be 18 years old or provide written permission from a parent or guardian.
13. No animals being rehabilitated may be used for educational programs.
14. Applicants for scientific collecting licenses, wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife salvage, and educational project permits that are requesting permission to possess, hold, or collect bird species as listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, 50 CFR 10.13 (April 5, 1985), may also be required to obtain a federal permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Endangered Species

These lists can change over time. Be sure to check with Iowa DNR.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Least Tern (Sterna antillarum)
King Rail (Rallus elegans)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)
Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii)

Species of special concern:
Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)