Collections, Donations, and Disposals

701 FW 5
FWM Number
701 FW 5, FWM 267, 8/12/96
Originating Office
Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning

5.1 Purpose. This chapter provides guidance concerning the collection, donation, and disposal of fish and wildlife and plant specimens at field stations.

5.2 Objectives. The objectives of collecting, donating, and disposal activities at field stations are to:

A. Assist in completion of worthwhile research projects or investigations.

B. Aid in the perpetuation of the resources.

C. Further knowledge and appreciation for natural resources.

D. Avoid waste of natural resources.

E. Assist in reestablishing fish and wildlife in their historic range.

5.3 Policy.

A. Collections. All scientific and private collecting of fish, wildlife and plant specimens must be:

(1) Compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was established and with all refuge objectives, programs, and operations.

(2) Biologically sound.

(3) In accordance with all Federal, State, and refuge laws and regulations (including Federal and State special restrictions on endangered species).

B. Donations and Loans. Donations or loans of fish, wildlife and plant specimens may occur for the following purposes:

(1) Scientific educational purposes (universities, research units, etc.).

(2) Propagation of new, free-ranging (freely occupying habitat adequate in size and quality to provide for all biological needs and allowed to reproduce freely) populations in cooperation with States, other governments, and other governmental agencies (see 701 FW 8, Fenced Animal Management).

(3) Augmentation of existing populations to prevent genetic suppression in cooperation with States, other governments, and other governmental agencies.

(4) Public display exhibition (zoos, municipalities, etc.).

(5) Food and food products.

C. Disposal. Disposal of fish, wildlife and plant specimens must be:

(1) Compatible with all facility objectives, programs, and operations.

(2) In accordance with all Federal, State, and Service laws and regulations (including Federal and State special restrictions on endangered species).

5.4 Authorities and Guidance.

A. Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 668-668d, Stat.250.

B. Refuge Revenue Sharing Act of 1935, as amended, Public Law 95-469.

C. 50 CFR Part 12, Seizure and Forfeiture Procedures, especially 12.33.

D. 50 CFR Part 17, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

E. 50 CFR Part 21, Migratory Bird Permits, especially 21.2 and 21.23.

F. 50 CFR Part 28, Enforcement, Penalty, and Procedural Requirements, especially 28.42 & 43 (impounding of domestic animals and destruction of dogs and cats).

G. 50 CFR Part 29, Land Use Management, especially 29.1 (use of natural resources).

H. 50 CFR Part 30, Range and Feral Animal Management, especially 30.2 (disposition of surplus range animals) and 30.12 (disposition of feral animals).

I. 50 CFR Part 31, Wildlife Species Management, especially 31.13 and 31.17 (control and disposal of surplus wildlife populations).

5.5 Definitions.

A. Collection. The taking of flora and fauna in accordance with applicable State and Federal regulations by Service personnel for official purposes or by other agencies or individuals for scientific and educational purposes.

B. Disposal. The act or instance of getting rid of specimens no longer of use to the Service.

C. Donation. A gift or contribution of specimens for specific purposes.

D. Specimen. A part or an individual taken as exemplifying or typifying a whole.

5.6 Responsibilities.

A. Regional Director. The Regional Director ensures development of Regional procedures for granting of required permits for collection, donation, and disposal of fish and wildlife and plant specimens.

B. Facility Manager. The facility manager initiates, reviews or approves permit applications in accordance with Regional policy. The facility manager assures compliance with all permit requirements and regulations and may hold a collecting permit for the facility at the discretion of the Regional Director.

5.7 Collection Procedures.

A. Official Collecting of fish and wildlife and plant specimens by the facility manager or designee may be done in conjunction with approved field studies, to document species occurrence, or to provide a reference collection of species occurring on the facility. All specimens are the property of the United States.

B. Studies. Where sufficient justification exists, collections may be made to secure data in connection with approved research and management studies. (See 4 RM 6, Research and Management Studies.)

C. Collection of Pathological Material. Pathological material needed in pursuit of an approved program of disease investigations may be collected.

(1) Pathological materials/cultures collection will be accomplished with specific, detailed instructions from the wildlife disease laboratory or other cooperative research organization to insure proper methods and shipment. The Regional Office will approve all such requests.

(2) Specimens to be used for pesticide analysis will be collected, stored, and shipped in accordance with instructions from the institution conducting the analysis; e.g., Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

D. Permits.

(1) All persons must possess all necessary Federal and State permits prior to official collecting activities. These permits authorize them to collect, possess, and transport migratory as well as nonmigratory birds, including their eggs and nests; fish; amphibians; reptiles; plants; and mammals, provided such animals or plants are not endangered species.

(2) Under the terms of these permits, the killing of birds or mammals on national wildlife refuges for official purposes may be performed by the facility manager, or at the facility manager’s direction and discretion, by Service personnel legally qualified to so act.

(3) In accordance with 50 CFR 21.23, each holder of a collecting permit is required to report the number of specimens collected following the close of each calendar year. Form 3-430a "Report of Migratory Birds and Their Eggs Taken for Scientific Purposes" is distributed by the Regional Permits Official, for use in preparing this report. Report on this form only those birds that are collected or otherwise obtained for specimen purposes. It is not required that birds picked up in disease control work and banding operations be reported on this form unless these birds are later made into study skins and retained as specimens. Permittees should complete and submit form 3-430a to the Regional Office. Negative reports are required. The report must be submitted on or before January 10 of each calendar year or whenever requested. Note that birds taken in connection with banding operations will be reported to the Bird Banding Office. (See 7 RM 16.)

E. Documenting Species Occurrence. Specimens may be collected to document the occurrence of species outside their normal range. Such documentation can be important in identifying potential competition with species already occurring on the area. Such activities also aid in verification of new distribution patterns of wildlife species. Finally, this work provides documentation for bird and other wildlife lists that indicate species of rare or uncommon occurrence. In documenting species occurrence, the use of dead or dying specimens is preferable to the sacrifice of healthy animals. The taking of healthy animals may be done only with the written approval of the Regional Office. In handling specimens found dead or dying, caution must be taken to avoid spread of disease to other sites through such collection. (See 7 RM 17.)

F. Study Skin Preparation.

(1) Birds or mammals taken for record purposes should be tagged and prepared immediately as study skins. If skilled individuals are not available to prepare the study skins, the specimens will be carefully wrapped to reduce opportunities for desiccation and stored in a frozen, protected condition until their disposition can be arranged. Poorly prepared and preserved skins are of little or no value. Collections will not be made without a clear plan as to their ultimate preparation and disposition.

(2) North American Bird Banding Manual, Volumes I and II, published jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service, provides guidance for marking and salvage procedures for migratory birds. Copies of this 1977 publication and updates are available from: Chief, Bird Banding Laboratory, Biological Resources Division, Laurel, Maryland 20811.

G. Specimen Identification.

(1) Zoological specimens collected that cannot be fully identified in the field may be submitted to the Bird and Mammal Laboratories, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. 20560, or to other recognized institutions or agencies for identification. Zoological specimens should be frozen, packed with ice, and shipped by air freight to arrive in the middle of the week to ensure prompt attention and avoid spoilage. (See also part 2, Bird Banding Manual.)

(2) Plant specimens that cannot be readily identified at the field station may be forwarded to an authoritative source. In requesting determinations by an authoritative source, duplicate specimens should be submitted. It is often necessary to dissect the floral and other parts of plants in making identifications. Consequently, they will be of little further value and will not be returned to the facility unless requested.

H. Reference Collections.

(1) Reference collections of animal specimens normally will not be maintained at field stations. Such collections require special handling, storage techniques, and equipment that make them impractical for field station use. The ready availability of detailed taxonomic keys and field guides makes field station reference collections unnecessary except under the most unusual circumstances. At stations where an animal study skin collection is justifiable, suitable insect-proof storage facilities will be provided. A catalog of all specimens will be maintained.

(2) An herbarium of plants occurring at the facility may be useful. Such a collection may be assembled and maintained for primary use of personnel assigned to the station. A catalog of all specimens collected and maintained in the herbarium will be retained on file. The herbarium may not be removed or transferred from the field station without specific Regional Office authorization.

(3) Specific guidance for museum property is contained in 411 DM.

I. Display of Mounted Specimens. Display of mounted specimens representing species common to the facility can add substantially to the enjoyment and education of visitors. Such displays, appropriately captioned, may be located in facility offices, visitor contact stations, and visitor centers. All mounts will be presented appropriately and maintained in good condition. Mounts that show signs of deterioration will be removed from public view.

J. Non-official Collecting by Facility Employees. Non-official collecting by field station personnel during duty hours will not be permitted. Field station personnel are required to obtain a permit for non-official collecting on a refuge during non-duty hours through application to the Regional Office. The application should identify the scope and objective of the collection, the species intended for collection, and full justification of the collecting activities. This application will be referred to the Regional Office with complete recommendations. All applicable Federal and State permits are required.

5.8 Donation and Disposal Procedures.

A. Donations. As a general rule, the recipients of donations should arrange to pick up and be responsible for transporting the donated items from the refuge. Recipients may be charged, as appropriate, for capture and delivery.

(1) Study skins and mounted specimens may be loaned to reputable museums, colleges, schools, laboratories, etc., with Regional Office approval. Study skins and mounted specimens cannot be donated. They remain the property of the United States.

(2) Cataloging of a specimen in a professionally curated museum collection is not considered an exception to this general ownership requirement. Specimens to be maintained in such facilities will, as a matter of course, maintain their identity through specimen tags and catalog files, and are, for all intents and purposes, on permanent loan.

(3) Notwithstanding the above, specimens donated for food or other purposes must be free of infectious diseases and otherwise in compliance with all applicable health codes.

B. Live Animals for Educational Purposes. The exhibition of live animals by municipal parks and other public agencies with adequate facilities can have educational value. Requests for live animals from national wildlife refuges for public parks, etc., will be forwarded to the Regional Office for approval. The Regional Office will obtain the necessary State approval. When approved, the requested animals will be obtained in the following priority:

(1) From animals wounded from hunting, trapping, or accidents but sufficiently recovered to be acceptable for display purposes (immature specimens respond to captivity better than adults),

(2) From birds or other animals (after complete recovery) afflicted with botulism, lead poisoning, or other diseases.

(3) From animals captured in banding operations.

(4) Requests for live specimens for display at public gatherings such as fairs, sportsmen's meeting, etc., may be filled with the approval of the Regional Office. Humane treatment of the animals must be guaranteed. When possible, animals should be released or returned to the Service facility following such uses. No endangered species will be used for such purposes. Display and handling will be in keeping with the most humane practices possible. Disease resulting from exposure of loaned animals must be considered if return to the facility is planned.

C. Disposal of Products of Animal Control Activities or Accidental Death may occur in accordance with 50 CFR 12.33.

(1) Animal products resulting from control activities, confiscation, or accidental death, which meet requirements of health and sanitation, may be disposed of in accordance with guidelines of paragraph 5.8D below as appropriate. Permits and authorizations must be obtained no matter what the circumstance of acquisition of material. Public relations or health considerations may require, however, that animal remains be burned or buried. This would be particularly true if evidence of disease were present.

(2) The facility manager may require that carcasses of accidentally or intentionally killed animals (of wildlife control activities) be left or distributed where they can be utilized by scavenger species such as eagles or vultures.

D. Sales.

(1) Wildlife and their parts and products generally may not be sold. Exceptions include:

     (a) Approved furbearers and commercial fishing resources. (See 7 RM 15 and 7 RM 10 and 50 CFR 31.13 and 31.17.)

     (b) Feral animals (e.g., horses and burros (7 RM 6) and range animals (e.g., buffalo and longhorn, 701 FW 8).

     (c) Certain animal by-products, such as shed antlers, if possession and transport of parts are permitted by the State. Note that, with the exception of non-game resident wildlife, State or State and Federal regulations do not permit the taking of animal parts, even as salvage, without a permit, and that similar regulations apply to many species of plants. Sale of same is thus likewise restricted.

     (d) Under no circumstances may waterfowl obtained during the hunting season, either legally, or illegally, or migratory game birds obtained at any time, be sold or disposed of without appropriate permits. (See 50 CFR 21.2 and 21.25.)

(2) Revenue from the sale or other disposition of animals, products and privileges must be deposited in the National Wildlife Refuge Fund (Fund 403A) pursuant to the Refuge Revenue Sharing Act of 1935, as amended (Public Law 95-469). 

Amended by Decision Memorandum, “Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns,” 6/22/2022