Scientific Collecting Licenses

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Statement of Purpose

This page is for information Scientific Collecting licenses for lethal take of wildlife, including plants. See also See also Permitting.


Emily Braker

Scientific Collecting Licenses

Scientific Collecting Licenses authorize the lethal collection of wildlife, generally for purposes of survey, inventory, or targeted scientific research. They are issued at the state, federal, and international levels, and vary based on regulatory agency. Persons proposing scientific collecting should familiarize themselves with local laws and regulations before applying for a collecting license, and in the case of international fieldwork, are encouraged to seek out a local collaborator to help navigate foreign authorities and share in project benefits. Scientific Collecting Licenses apply to protected flora and fauna, which nearly always include vertebrate groups, crustaceans, mollusks, endangered or threatened species of any kind, and plants growing on federal and private lands. All restrictions and exceptions to authorized take will be oultlined in the permit document. Collecting Licenses generally stipulate that project material must be transferred to a public scientific or educational institution, zoological park, museum or scientific society for permanent deposition following authorized collecting activities.

Additional Requirements:

  • US: Additional authorization is needed for salvage activities occurring on US federal or state lands and private property, generally in the form of prior written authorization, permission, or permits from the relevant agency or landowner.
  • International: see Access and Benefit-Sharing (Nagoya Protocol and the CBD)
  • Possession of a Scientific Collecting License for lethal take typically also grants permission to salvage animals found moribund or dead in the field and inadvertent kills. Contact the appropriate state agency prior to salvage activities if permission is not explicitly stated on the issued Scientific Collecting License.
  • Permittees must submit an annual report each year that minimally documents the collected species, dates, localities, and final disposition. Even in the case of no permit activity, an annual report should be submitted.

Other Considerations

  • Apply for collecting permits well in advance of proposed activities.
  • Hunting or Fishing licenses (US) may also be an option if anticipated take is within bag-limits for certain game species. Some species of amphibians often fall under the authority of a state-issued fishing license.
  • A copy of a valid Scientific Collecting License should accompany permittees in the field, as well as when transporting collected material.
  • Researchers: Include a copy of the valid Scientific Collecting License when transferring collected material to the authorized repository (museums or other scientific/educational institution) to demonstrate specimens were legally acquired.
  • Museums/repositories: Properly document compliance by including a copy of the Scientific Collecting License or reference the license number in the corresponding accession files of specimens to demonstrate they were legally acquired.
  • The collection, possession, transportation and acquisition of wildlife may be subject to other regulations related to importation and exportation, preventing zoonotic disease transmission, ethical treatment of animals, and land permissions. See Permitting for a comprehensive list of regulations.


Permitting Checklist for U.S. Researchers