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Endangered Species Permits FAQs

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Killer Whale
(Orcinus orca)
Photo: NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Do I Need to Apply for a Permit?

If you would like to engage in scientific research on or conduct activities to enhance the propagation or survival of an ESA listed species that will likely result in the species being harassed, captured, harmed, possessed, or killed, a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit is required.

Examples of activities that may require a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit include:

Under certain circumstances, a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit may also be required to possess tissues and/or body parts of ESA-listed species.

If you are engaged in an otherwise lawful activity where a listed species may be adversely affected, and the purpose of your activity is not scientific research on or enhancement of listed species, you may need to obtain a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit (Incidental Take Permit).

Examples of activities that may require a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit include:

state sport fishing programs,

non-listed fish stocking programs, and

other in-stream or watershed activities that may impact listed species.

If your proposed activities require an incidental take permit, please refer to section 10(a)(1)(B) permit instructions.

Before applying for an individual permit, you should determine if your proposed project is part of another authorized activity. You are strongly encouraged to coordinate with others doing similar work to minimize duplication and the impact on listed species. If two investigators are collaborating on the same activities, they are encouraged to apply for a single permit.

Am I using the Appropriate Application Instructions?

These instructions are for permits involving listed marine and anadromous species (other than marine mammals and land-based sea turtle activities).

For permits for marine mammal species, please use the application instructions for marine mammals.

If you need a permit for both marine mammals and non-mammal marine species, use the application instructions for marine mammals, and include other species (e.g., sea turtles) as appropriate.

For terrestrial or freshwater species, or land-based sea turtle activities, please contact the appropriate regional office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

When Should I Apply?

To allow adequate time for processing and to ensure the timely issuance of a permit, should one be granted, you are urged to apply at least one year prior to the start of your proposed activities.

What Should I Include in the Application?

A permit application should provide all of the information outlined in the application instructions, and for processing efficiency, in the same structure and format. We will use the information that you provide to determine whether your application is complete, and whether to issue a permit for the proposed activities.

If any section of the application does not apply to your proposed activity, please do not skip the section; rather indicate it is "not applicable" and briefly explain why.

Applicable information should be adequately detailed to provide a complete picture of your proposed activities. Incomplete or vague information will delay processing and may result in your application being returned.

You may be contacted for additional information as needed during processing of your application. If you already have a project proposal, please attach it to the application. However, anything in your proposal that is not specifically stated in your application will not be considered for authorization.

Where Do I Send the Application?

Mail one signed original, two hard copies, and an electronic copy of the complete, final application to the appropriate address.

If you need assistance in compiling your application, please contact us.

Last Updated: January 2016