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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits under various wildlife law and treaties at a number of offices throughout the country. Permits enable the public and scientific communities to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities that would be otherwise prohibited by law. Service permit programs ensure that such activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife.  Additionally, some permits promote conservation efforts by authorizing scientific research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activates to go forward. 

Permits are handled through specific programs such as International Affairs (Management Authority), Endangered SpeciesLaw Enforcement, Migratory Birds, and National Wildlife Refuge System.


Permitting at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge 

Most special events and activities held in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge require Special Use Permits (SUP) and are issued after the Refuge Manager has assessed the activity to be appropriate and compatible with the Refuge purposes. Refuge activities, including but not limited to scientific research, organized education activities, first amendment activities, and all commercial activities require a Special Use Permit. Permits must be secured before any special use activity commences on the Refuge lands and inland waters. Plan ahead and allow for 30 working days to process a permit request. In addition, if significant staff time is expended in the evaluation of a complex permitting request, the applicant will be billed for these staff costs. 

COMMERCIAL Activities Special Use Permit

Activities that operate as a commercial use such as guided tours (eg., fishing, ecotours, hunting guide, boating guide) and commercial filming (audio, video, photographic products of monetary value) must be adequately described in a Commercial Use Application for a SUP. 

In addition, the following components are required at the same time the SUP application is submitted:

All commercial users provide a copy of their insurance certificate identifying the Refuge as an Additional Insured Party. The refuge name and address needs to be listed on the insurance certificate under the Certificate Holder section. The minimum amount of commercial liability insurance by a U.S. company is generally one million dollars. However, there may be a reduced amount of liability insurance coverage of $500,000 that can apply to some smaller commercial users if their application reflects details of lower-risk commercial services. Insurance must be carried by the permit requester at the time of the application submission and throughout the requested time of the permit. 

    All Commercial Use SUPs will be subject to a base fee of $150.00, and additional fees may apply. Checks need to be made out to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

    We issue Commercial Use SUPs at the beginning of October that run to the end of September of the following year. Depending on the need to ensure protection of refuge resources and provide for permit monitoring, the fees may increase as cost re-imbursement for required staff time. All fees are due at the time of permit issuance and only checks from US banks or money orders are acceptable to pay permit fees. While it is possible to remit fee payment via mail, it is best for the fee remittance to be paid in person at the Refuge Office after a Refuge Manager has corresponded with the applicant and given an approval for a Commercial Use SUP.

    Please complete the application provided through the link here and submit to Refuge Staff as described below.

    Click Here>  Commercial Activity Special Use Permit

    RESEARCH Activities Special Use Permit 

    Priority will be given to studies or activities that contribute to the enhancement, protection, use, preservation, and management of native wildlife populations and their habitats. The following factors that will be considered in the determination of whether to issue an SUP for research: 

    • Will the project benefit the Refuge?

    • Does the project address an issue of direct management concern to the Refuge?

    • Does the project address an issue of concern for overall South Florida ecosystem?

    • Can the activity/research be conducted elsewhere?

    • Is the activity compatible with the objectives of the Refuge?

    • Will the use require the use of government equipment or personnel?

    • Is the applicant(s) qualified? 

    If you feel that your research project has sound merit, please complete the application provided in the link here and submit the application with a copy of your detailed research proposal to the Refuge Staff as described below.

    Click Here>  Research Special Use Permit  


    GENERAL USE Special Use Permit 

    For miscellaneous one-time events, such as educational activities, First Amendment activities, and compatible use gatherings, please complete an application for a General Special Use Permit. First Amendment gatherings will not be subject to staff fees.

    Please complete the application provided through the link here and submit to Refuge Staff as described below.

    Click Here>  General Special Use Permit  

    Application Process
    Applications for research, organized events - education or First Amendment activities, and commercial uses may be submitted by fax, email, or via mail. Recall permit requests may take up to 30 days for review and issuance. 

    Mail: Florida Panther NWR
    c/o Permit Application
    12085 State Road 29 South
    Immokalee, FL 34142

    Fax: 239-657-8002


     Research Special Use Permit  

     Commercial Activity Special Use Permit 

     General Special Use Permit 


    Thank you for your interest in permitted activities at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge!