The Ornithological Council’s website, www.birdnet.org, contains extensive information about the permits that are required for ornithological research. That information has recently been updated - including information and links to scientific collecting and banding permit applications for all 50 states in the US. There is also information about US federal permits, as well as the provincial and federal permits required in Canada.
Check out the updated permitting information here.
Some helpful hints for securing your permits -
1. Apply early! If you haven’t already applied for permit for this summer, do so now! Many regions in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are dealing with a permit backlog, so securing your permit or permit renewal may take longer than you think.
2. Don't assume that you know if a species is protected. The MBTA list includes over 1,000 bird species, and dozens are listed as threatened or endangered. ALWAYS CHECK THE MBTA AND ESA LISTS.
3. You can collect blood and feather samples under a banding permit ONLY if the permit expressly authorizes this activity and ONLY if you are also marking the bird. If you are not marking the bird, you must have a scientific collecting permit. If you wish to collect blood and feather samples under your banding permit, you must request that authority when you file your application. It is not automatically allowed under a banding permit.
4. You need a federal scientific collecting permit for every activity that involves capture or handling of a bird protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act other than capture and marking with bands, radio-transmitters, geolocators, patagial tags, neck rings, or other auxiliary markers that are approved by the USGS Bird Banding Lab. If you intend to implant a transmitter (other than subcutaneously), you will need a scientific collecting permit.
5. Make your requests clear and simple. State exactly what you are seeking permission to do before you go into more detail about the project.
6. Remember that for MBTA permits, you are allowed by law to continue the permitted activities if you have applied for renewal at least 30 days prior to the expiration date (and your permit has not been revoked or suspended).
7. Do your best to ensure your permit covers all the activities that your research project will entail. Having to apply for amendments just increases the workload and your expenses – and slows things down for you and everyone else.
8. If you plan to work on federal land (such as National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks, Forest Service or BLM property), be sure to determine if you need a permit or other authorization.
9. Under some circumstances, you may need to contact the USFWS to determine if you need an ESA permit, even if you are not studying an ESA species. If you will use non-selective capture techniques (such as mist nets or rocket nets, for instance) or using other techniques such as predator playback or nest searching in an area where a federally-listed species is known to occur and within the habitats where it occurs, then you should communicate with the Endangered Species office. They will determine if you will need an endangered species “Section 10” (incidental take) permit.
Finally - READ YOUR PERMITS WHEN YOU RECEIVE THEM! Make sure they allow you to do what you need to do. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions.
About the Ornithological Council
The Ornithological Council is a consortium of scientific societies of ornithologists. Their cumulative expertise comprises the knowledge that is fundamental and essential to science-based bird conservation and management. The Ornithological Council is financially supported by our member societies and the individual ornithologists who value our work. If the OC’s resources are valuable to you, please consider joining one donating to the OC at Birdnet.org. Thank you for your support!
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