Washington Fish and Wildlife Office
Pacific Region

Permit Requirements


  Permit Overview
  Bald Eagle Permits
  Migratory Bird Permits Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  Marine Mammal Permits Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act
  Scientific Permits Under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act

Permit Overview

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) issues permits under various wildlife laws and treaties at different offices at the national, regional, and/or wildlife port levels. (We do not issue hunting and fishing licenses. Instead, those are issued by State wildlife agencies.) Permits enable the public to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities that would otherwise be prohibited by law. Service permit programs ensure that such activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife. Additionally, some permits promote conservation efforts by authorizing scientific research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activities to go forward.

For more detailed information, go to How to Obtain a Permit, FAQs/Facts, or Application Forms at the FWS National website. See below for specific questions on bald eagle permits, migratory bird permits, marine mammal permits, and scientific collection permits.

Bald Eagle Permits

When the bald eagle was delisted, the Service proposed regulations to create a permit program to authorize limited take of Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles where take is associated with otherwise lawful activities. The permits will authorize limited, non-purposeful take of bald and golden eagles, authorizing individuals, companies, government agencies (including tribal governments), and other organizations to disturb or otherwise take eagles in the course of conducting lawful activities such as operating utilities and airports. 

For more information, please see our Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and Permitting page.

Migratory Bird Permits Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.

As authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits to qualified applicants for the following types of activities: falconry, raptor propagation, scientific collecting, special purposes (rehabilitation, educational, migratory game bird propagation, and salvage), take of depredating birds, taxidermy, and waterfowl sale and disposal.

For more information, please see our National website at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/mbpermits.html.

Marine Mammal Permits under the Marine Mammal Protection Act

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), enacted in 1972, was the first legislation that called for an ecosystem approach to natural resource management and conservation. The MMPA prohibits the take (i.e., hunting, killing, capture, and /or harassment) of marine mammals and enacts a moratorium on the import, export, and sale of marine mammal parts and products. There are exemptions and exceptions to the prohibitions. For example, Alaska Natives may hunt marine mammals for subsistence purposes and may possess, transport, and sell marine mammal parts and products. An exception is available for entities that apply for and are granted authorization for the incidental take of marine mammals during the course of an otherwise legal activity. Permits may be issued for scientific research, public display, and import/export of marine mammal parts and products upon determination by the Service that the issuance is consistent with the MMPA and our regulations. Application for these permits are reviewed and issued by the Service's Division of Management Authority, which is part of the International Affairs office. Please see http://www.fws.gov/permits/ for more information.

The Service was given authority to implement the MMPA for the conservation and management of sea and marine otters, walrus, polar bear, three species of manatees, and dugong. The Service's regulations for implementation of the MMPA can be found at 50 CFR Part 18. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA-Fisheries) was given the responsibility to conserve and manage pinnepeds other than walrus (i.e., seals and sea lions) and cetaceans (whales and dolphins).

Scientific Permits under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act

The Service administers native endangered and threatened species permits under the Endangered Species Act (except permits for import and export). Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is designed to regulate a wide range of activities affecting plants and animals designated as endangered or threatened, and the habitats upon which they depend. With some exceptions, the ESA prohibits activities affecting these protected species and their habitats unless authorized by a permit from the Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Fisheries.

Permitted activities are designed to be consistent with the conservation of the species. Permits are issued to qualified applicants for the following types of activities: Enhancement of survival associated with Safe Harbor Agreements and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances; and incidental take associated with Habitat Conservation Plans, recovery, and interstate commerce. Permits for import and export are issued by International Affairs (Division of Management Authority).

Please see our National website for more information: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/permits/index.html.


Last updated: June 26, 2013
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