What We Do
The National Wildlife Property Repository provides a variety of services including support for law enforcement investigations into wildlife trafficking, loans of specimens for educational and research use, and education programs and facility tours. Learn more about our work below or use these links to locate specific services.
Management and Conservation
The work of the National Wildlife Property Repository supports efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners to combat wildlife trafficking and facilitate legal, sustainable wildlife trade.
Wildlife trade is the international or domestic trade of wildlife and products made from wildlife, including live wildlife and products like fur or leather fashion items, home goods, novelties like trinkets and souvenirs, musical instruments, traditional medicines, and much more. Trade in wildlife and wildlife products is a multi-billion-dollar business that spans the entire globe.
Legal Versus Illegal Wildlife Trade
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works to facilitate a robust legal wildlife trade worth billions of dollars each year. By issuing import, export, and other types of permits and ensuring shipments of wildlife and products are compliant with regulatory laws, we help ensure that demand on wild populations is sustainable and that trade in wildlife does not adversely impact biodiversity.
When unregulated, wildlife trade can become unsustainable and cause harm to wild populations. Wild plants and animals may be overharvested to fulfill demands for live specimens or products, leading to declines in populations or increasing a species’ risk of extinction. Plants and animals that are endangered or threatened are particularly vulnerable to these impacts. Like and habitat loss, illegal wildlife trade or “wildlife trafficking” can be a factor contributing to the loss of biodiversity.
The enforcement of laws regulating wildlife trade supports the long-term survival of plant and animal species. By complying with laws and regulations, importers and exporters of wildlife products help protect the health of wild populations, species, and entire ecosystems.
The United States' Role in the Illegal Wildlife Trade
- The United States is a destination and transit point for trafficked wildlife and wildlife products. Much of the world’s trade – both legal and illegal – in wild animal and plant species is driven by U.S. consumers, originates in our country, or passes through our ports on the way to other nations.
- The United States is also a supplier of native species that are in demand in other countries, including American ginseng, turtles, eels, and other species, some of which are illegally removed from the wild and exported.
- The United States is committed to combating wildlife trafficking and the transnational organized crime attached to this illicit trade. Many U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs work to combat illegal trade in wildlife, including the Office of Law Enforcement and the International Affairs Program. Learn more about how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is combating wildlife trafficking here.
Laws Regulating Trade in Wildlife
Several laws regulate the trade in wildlife and wildlife products in the United States and internationally.
The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species is an international treaty enacted in 1973 designed to ensure that international trade in animals and plants won’t threaten their survival in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for carrying out the provisions under CITES for the United States, which is a signatory party along with 183 other countries around the world. Under CITES, species can be listed on three different “Appendices” according to how their current populations are doing in the wild and how much protection they need.
- Appendix I – Species are the most protected because they demonstrate the greatest threat of extinction. Commercial trade in these species is prohibited. Examples of Appendix I include tigers, rhinos, gorillas, and elephants.
- Appendix II – Species not under immediate threat of extinction but that warrant close monitoring in trade to ensure their numbers are sustainable. These species require permits and declarations for international trade.
- Appendix III – Species have regulated trade by certain countries (Parties) and are listed to solicit the cooperation of other countries so that the trade in these species does not become unsustainable.
A CITES permit issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be required to import live or dead specimens, parts and products made from wildlife into the United States. Learn more about CITES permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's International Affairs program.
Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted in 1973 to protect populations of plants and animals that face imminent threat of extinction or endangerment in the future. Protection may also extend to the habitat of these species that is critical for their survival. Unless permitted, it is illegal to import, export, take, transport, sell, purchase, or engage in interstate and foreign commerce species listed as endangered or threatened. The ESA also implements CITES to protect species that are at risk due to wildlife trade. The number of species on the list changes as new species are added or delisted if population numbers are deemed to have passed the threat of extinction.
One of the first wildlife protection laws, The Lacey Act makes it illegal to have any wildlife that was taken in violation of international, federal, state, or Indian tribal law. First enacted in 1900, the Lacey Act prohibits interstate and foreign trafficking of wildlife. This covers all species protected under CITES Appendices. The National Wildlife Property Repository operates off funds generated by Lacey Act violation fees.
Marine Mammal Protection Act
This act prohibits people from taking, importing, transporting, purchasing, and selling marine mammals and their products unless they obtain a special exemption. These mammals are protected in any ocean/sea or land controlled by the United States. Some examples of the species protected by this act include whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, walrus, polar bears, manatees, and sea otters.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) protects almost all native North American birds by prohibiting killing, capture, and possession for meat, pet or feather trade. MBTA is now an international agreement among the United States, Mexico, Canada, Russia, and Japan. Under the act, it is also unlawful to use the nests, eggs, and feathers even if they were naturally molted. Regulated hunting allows for the taking of game birds during established seasons.
The National Wildlife Property Repository aids conservation education and scientific research through loans of wildlife items in our collection. Many of the items we receive can be loaned to educational and research institutions.
To request a loan, please submit a written request on official letterhead with the following information:
- The name, business address, phone number and email address of your organization and the individual requesting the loan on behalf of the facility.
- The name and contact information (phone number and email address) of the point of the individual responsible for maintaining and securing the loaned wildlife items. If this individual is the same person requesting the loan, please indicate so.
- A brief description of the intended use of the loaned wildlife items.
- A complete list of items you are requesting as part of the loan, including as complete or specific a description as you can provide. The Repository is unable to provide a complete list of items within our inventory, but we do our best to provide a comprehensive list of possible items for your request based on the information you provide.
- The signature and any necessary approval within your organization (e.g., Director, Dean, Principal etc.).
Email the completed letters to firstname.lastname@example.org as an attachment (preferred) or sent via United States Postal Service to:
National Wildlife Property Repository
6550 Gateway Road, Bldg. 128
Commerce City, CO, 80022
Attn: Property Loans
Loans requests will be fulfilled in the order they received and are subject to review and approval by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leadership. Please be aware that we may be unable to fill requests based on current item inventory and other factors. For additional guidance and questions, please email us at email@example.com or call 303-287-2110.
Members of the public wishing to abandon and otherwise donate their unwanted wildlife items and ivory may contact the National Wildlife Property Repository to arrange for a donation. This includes family heirlooms, trophies, and artifacts that may have been legally obtained prior to bans.
Please note that the Repository may not accept all donations and all requests are subject to review by one of our Wildlife Repository Specialists.
To begin the donation process, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-287-2110, and provide us with:
- The name, address, phone number, and email address of the individual wishing to abandon an item(s).
- A description and quantity of the item(s) that will be considered for abandonment and a brief description of how they were obtained. Include photographs if possible.
Next, a Wildlife Repository Specialist will respond to your inquiry and, if we are able to accept your donation, will assist you in completing and submitting a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Abandonment Form (Form 3-2096). Once your form is complete:
- A Wildlife Repository Specialist will review the form and assist you with any final questions or needs.
- A final copy of the signed form will be provided to the donor via email or regular mail following receipt of the item(s).
Once the above steps are complete, please ship the items to:
National Wildlife Property Repository
6550 Gateway Road, Bldg. 128
Commerce City, CO, 80022
Attn: Property Abandonments
Please note: the cost of shipping items to the Repository is the sole responsibility of the donor. Please discuss preferred shipping options with Repository Staff before sending any objects to the Repository. Claiming any value for such "donations" for Federal, State, or local tax purposes is the sole responsibility of the donor. The Service will not in any way assess the value of such items. By submitting such abandoned donation, the donor agrees that upon acceptance such wildlife property items will become the sole property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, without recourse. Such abandonments are not consummated and do not become property of the Service until a signed acknowledgement is sent back to the donor.
Looking to identify wildlife products in your possession?
Questions about abandonments and donations? Email us at email@example.com or call us at 303-287-2110.
Our Projects and Research
Tours and Education Programs
The National Eagle Repository and the National Wildlife Property Repository are served by an Education Program offering facility tours and other hands-on learning experiences for adults and youth. Learn more about available options and make a reservation here, or by emailing NEWPR_education@fws.gov or calling 303-287-2110.