To simplify, expedite and improve the permit application process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is launching “ePermits,” a new and modern electronic permitting system. Permits enable the public to engage in certain regulated wildlife-related activities. Service permit programs help ensure these activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife.
The Service issues permits under several domestic and international laws and treaties such as the Endangered Species Act, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Wild Bird Conservation Act and the Lacey Act. These laws protect species that are threatened by overexploitation and other factors.
“I am proud of the Service’s work to create an innovative platform that will help simplify and expedite the permitting process,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The Trump Administration has prioritized developing innovative solutions for the American people, and this online tool for permit applications further delivers accountability and transparency.”
“The enhancement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora electronic permitting procedure, as well as the planned upgrades, will only further benefit our industry by continuing to improve the permitting process,” said Patricia Fuquene, Director of Import/Export, Costa Farms LLC.
Permits are issued for activities such as import and export of live animals, plants, or biomedical samples, rehabilitation of sick or injured migratory birds, scientific research or reintroduction programs for endangered species, and exchange of museum specimens between institutions for protected species. Each year, the Service issues approximately 65,000 permits. Prior to ePermits, applicants had to apply for permits through the mail and pay with paper checks, often resulting in delays that now may be avoided through the digital process.
The hard-copy option is still available to those who need it, and ePermits offers many advantages for applicants including a new permit application search feature. The new system also uses pay.gov, a secure electronic payment system, to process applicant permit fees. Once an application is submitted, the new system allows applicants to view and track their application’s progress.
Enhancements to ePermits and additional functionality are planned on a regular basis through July 2021 to make the application process more efficient and to allow for a more robust ability to analyze data to track business and conservation trends.
Digital permit applications forms are available in ePermits for the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement and Ecological Services, Migratory Birds and International Affairs programs. Users can find the permit applications they need through a search function and can get answers to frequently asked questions through easy-to-use “help center” content.
“The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is excited about and supports the modernization of the Service’s permitting system,” said Sara Parker Pauley, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “The move to electronic permitting will assist in the sustainable use and management of wildlife by the state fish and wildlife agencies. The association appreciated the Service seeking the input of the state fish and wildlife agencies on the development of this system. This cooperation reflects the strong relationship that the state fish and wildlife agencies and the association have with the Service.”
“The Louisiana alligator industry is very excited about the modernization of the Service’s permitting system,” said Stephen Sagrera, President of the Louisiana Alligator Farmers and Ranchers Association. “The faster permitting time of the new electronic system will help U.S. producers of sustainable wildlife products to better compete in fast-paced global markets.”
“Permits from the Service are integral to the work of many ornithologists, so we are excited about the new ePermits system,” said Laura Bies, Executive Director of The Ornithological Council. “This new system has the potential to reduce the paperwork burden for researchers and scientists, and the Ornithological Council looks forward to its implementation.”
By applying for permits, the public helps conserve and protect imperiled species throughout the world. Additionally, some permits promote conservation efforts by authorizing scientific research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activities to go forward.
To apply for permits through the Service’s new platform or to obtain more information regarding the permitting process, visit: fws.gov/epermits.