Recovery Permits Program

Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act prohibits the take of federally listed species unless authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (service). Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act allows for recovery permits to be issued for otherwise prohibited acts if the activity to be permitted is for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species, and for interstate commerce activities. The Pacific Southwest Region issues recovery permits to scientists and other qualified individuals for conducting recovery and other conservation related actions that further our understanding and the long-term survival needs of federally listed species.

A captive-reared, mature Santa Cruz long-toed salamander found on Calif.,state land managed by Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Matthew Slater/USFWS

Recovery permits may be issued for activities including but not limited to: presence/absence surveys; monitoring populations; capture studies; marking and tracking; captive breeding and/or rearing; collecting genetic samples for research activities; and performing educational programs that further the recovery of a federally listed species. The data acquired from the issuance of recovery permits allow the Service to make valuable decisions for the species that will enhance their survival and recovery.

Interstate commerce permits may also be issued to allow for the sale and transport of federally listed species across state lines. Note that interstate commerce permit application form is a separate form (3-200-60) from the recovery permit application form (3-200-59), or can be found under Search Applications at ePermits.


The Pacific Southwest Region currently manages over 320 animals and plants listed as endangered or threatened species within California, Nevada, and the Klamath basin of Oregon. The Service Recovery Permit Application form is available on the web and is used when applying for a recovery permit. For additional information on how to obtain a recovery permit, access to our permit application, our permitting regulations, as well as general information about other types of permits the Service issues, please click on the applicable links below.


An individual pursuing a Section 10(a)(1)(A) recovery permit to conduct activities for federally listed species must have adequate field experience and qualifications for independently conducting the requested activity with the target listed species. Click here on the Minimum Qualifications link for a detailed guidance document, and for our minimum qualifications for a variety of listed species that the Service has developed.


To assist you in keeping track of acquired field experience, and for subsequently providing the Service with a detailed qualification statement, we recommend that you use our “Recommended Guidance for Tracking Field Experience” document found on the Acquiring Field Experience link.


Some federally listed species that occur within the Pacific Southwest Region require a practical examination be taken prior to obtaining a recovery permit for that species. Click on the Practical Exams & Study Guides for additional guidance and study guides for those species requiring an exam.


Standardized survey protocols and/or survey guidelines are a comprehensive set of instructions for conducting a presence/absence survey for federally listed species on a given parcel of land, or to conduct inventory or population monitoring projects for federally listed species. Click on the Survey Protocols and Survey Guidelines link for a copy of a survey protocol or survey guidelines for a particular species.


A list of repositories that accept salvaged plant and animal specimens.


You have multiple resources available to you for answering your permitting questions within Region 8. For information on recovery permitting at the Regional level and to determine where to send your completed recovery permit application, open the “Regional Permit Contacts” document in the link below. For recovery permitting questions you may have at the field office level nearest you, open the “Field Office Permit Contacts” document. You can also view our jurisdictional maps. All are found under the link Permitting Contacts – Pacific Southwest Region. We are here to serve you.


Be aware that additional permitting may be required with your recovery permit. Note that the permittee must have all applicable State and Federal permits prior to the commencement of activities authorized by a recovery permit. In addition, a recovery permit does not authorize access to Federal, Tribal, State, local government, or private lands as it is the responsibility of the permittee to obtain land owner permission prior to commencing permitted activities on such lands. For example, a “Scientific Collecting Permit” or “Memorandum of Understanding” from a State wildlife agency may be required when conducting federally permitted activities. Similarly, if you expect to band birds, a Bird Banding Permit must be acquired from the USGS bird banding laboratory. You may also have questions about bringing wildlife across international boundaries into the United States. For these and other types of permitting, please click on Other Permitting Authorities for additional permitting information and links you may find useful.