Endangered Species
Midwest Region



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Endangered Species Permits

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) and Incidental Take Permits

The Endangered Species Act prohibits the "take" of listed species through direct harm or habitat destruction. In the 1982 ESA amendments, Congress authorized the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (through the Secretary of the Interior) to issue permits for the "incidental take" of endangered and threatened wildlife species (See Section 10a(1)(B) of the ESA). Thus, permit holders can proceed with an activity that is legal in all other respects, but that results in the "incidental" taking of a listed species.


The 1982 amendment requires that permit applicants design, implement, and secure funding for a conservation plan that minimizes and mitigates harm to the impacted species during the proposed project. That plan is commonly called a Habitat Conservation Plan. Habitat Conservation Plans are legally binding agreements between the Secretary of the Interior and the permit holder.


General Information about Incidental Take Permits and Habitat Conservation Plans

Frequently Asked Questions about HCPs


Habitat Conservation Plans under the Endangered Species Act (1-page PDF Adobe PDF Icon)


Fact Sheet - Habitat Conservation Plans: Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act


Applying for a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Instructions on how to Develop a Habitat Conservation Plan

Explanation of the HCP Development Process


Requirements of an HCP


General Outline of an HCP


Contents of an HCP


Tools for Preparing Habitat Conservation Plans (includes forms and templates)


Habitat Conservation Plans - Selected Readings



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Last updated: April 14, 2015