U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife 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.) 

Refuge Permits

Alaska Guide Service Evaluation Form

special use permit is not required for the general public to visit a national wildlife refuge to engage in wildlife-dependent recreational activities such as wildlife watching, hunting, fishing, photography, environmental education, interpretation, hiking, and camping. Visitors must comply with all pertinent refuge regulations, State and Federal laws, and State hunting and fishing regulations.

Special use permits are required for, but not limited to, the following types of activities: 

Commercial Operations:

  • Guiding and outfitting (hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, river trips, etc.)
  • Big game transporting
  • Air and water taxi
  • Sand and gravel removal
  • Commercial filming and videographers

Scientific Research and Monitoring:

  • Biological research
  • Archeological research
  • Geological research
  • Research and Monitoring Installations* (i.e., weather, climate, seismic, etc.)

Use and Occupancy of Refuge Lands*:

  • Commercial guide cabins
  • Subsistence cabins
  • Trapping cabins
  • Tent platforms and long term tent camps
  • Commercial fishing cabins and other support facilities

* Transportation and utility systems, and other long-term installations, require a right-of-way permit from the regional Division of Realty.

Permits issued for commercial uses are subject to a $100 administrative fee which must accompany the application. Please review the notice (pdf) regarding our Paper Check Conversion Program. The administrative fee is in addition to any applicable reserved site use (rental) or client use day fees.

Special use permits are obtained by submitting a permit application to the appropriate refuge. Please contact the appropriate refuge office before completing the permit application. 

Most Alaska refuges accept permit applications throughout the year; however, some refuges have specific application periods for commercial visitor services permits, as shown on the following:

Innoko NWRKoyukuk NWR Nowitna NWR
Require 30 days to process all special use permit applications.

Selawik NWR
January 1 - March 15
October 1 – November 30

Arctic NWR
Received : January 1 - April 15 and 
October 1 - November 30

Kenai NWR
January 1 - April 1

Yukon Flats NWR
The application periods are October 1 - November 30 and January 1 - April 15. 

Businesses seeking to operate in the winter and spring of 2016 should apply October 1 to November 30, 2015, and those seeking to operate in summer and fall of 2016 should apply January 1 to April 15, 2016. Permit applications postmarked by the end-date of each application period will be accepted.

Animal Permits

For more information, see the Law Enforcement page.

Animal/Animal Part Requirement
Brown Bear, Lynx, Bobcat, River Otter Importing/exporting these species may require a CITES permit. Please contact the USFWS Import/Export Office (tele: 907-271-6198) about obtaining the permit.
Bird (Live) Traveling with your pet bird may require a permit. See "Traveling Abroad with Your Pet Bird" for more information.
Black Bear Exporting a taxidermy sport-taken black bear (rug, fur mount, etc.) through Canada requires a CITES Appendix II permit. A fresh, frozen or salted sport-taken black bear is exempt from CITES permit/certificate requirements. Please contact the USFWS Import/Export Office (tele: 907-271-6198) about obtaining the permit.
Walrus (ivory), Sea Otter, Polar Bear (Alaska Native Handicrafts)

Importing/Exporting Alaskan Native handicrafts with marine mammal parts may require a CITES permit.
Please contact:

Division of Management Authority U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 700
Arlington, Virginia 22203
1-800-358-2104 or 703-358-2104.
Whale (baleen) This is under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service. See the National Marine Fisheries Service website for further information and requirements.
Eagle (feathers, parts)

Transporting eagle feathers/parts is prohibited unless you are a qualified Native American with a permit. for more information, visit the Law Enforcement website or contact our Migratory Bird Permit Office at 907-786-3693.

Instructions and application information for eagle permits associated with development or other activity

All legally-hunted species
(wildlife skins/animal trophies)
Importing/exporting these items requires a USFWS Form 3-177
Sea Otter, Walrus, Polar Bear To become or renew as a Registered Agent/Tannery (pdf), you must apply.

Threatened and Endangered Species Permits

The ESA requires that permits be issued for activities that may result in "take" of threatened or endangered species. We issue the following types of permits:

Recovery and Interstate Commerce Permits For scientific research involving a listed species, or activities to enhance a listed species propagation or survival, a Section 10(a)(1)(A) permit is required. Examples include, but are not limited to: abundance surveys, genetic research, relocations, capture and marking, and telemetric monitoring. A permit may also be required to possess tissues and/or body parts of listed species.

For Recovery Permits and Interstate Commerce Permits, use this form.

Incidental Take Permits 
If you are engaged in an otherwise lawful activity where there’s a possibility of incidental “take” and the purpose of your activity is not scientific research or enhancement of a listed species, you may need to obtain a Section 10(a)(1)(B) Incidental Take Permit.

Under the ESA we cannot authorize incidental take for marine mammals, unless authorized under Marine Mammal Protection Act.  For more information click here.

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are planning documents required as part of an application for an incidental take permit.  They provide a way for our non-Federal partners to conserve ecosystems upon which listed species depend.  No HCPs have been created in Alaska. 

Examples of activities that may require an Incidental Take Permit include, but are not limited to: construction and/or development activities or in-stream or watershed activities that may cause take of listed species.

Apply for an incidental take permit

For general information about these permits and points of contact, see our fact sheet "Permits for Native Species Under the Endangered Species Act"

Migratory Bird Permit Program

(everything not Part 22.26 & 22.27)

Working on this section - please call or email Beth Pattinson at (907) 786-3693 or Beth_Pattinson@fws.gov for information