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Aquatic biologists snorkeling on the Oconaluftee River in North Carolina. Photo by Gary Peeples.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region issues permits under various wildlife laws and treaties. Our permits enable the public to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities that would otherwise be 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 activities to go forward.

We do not issue hunting and fishing licenses. Instead, those are issued by state wildlife agencies.

Endangered species permits

All threatened and endangered species recovery permits are handled by the Regional Office.

Incidental take permits

These are required when non-federal activities will result in take of threatened or endangered species. A Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) must accompany an application for an incidental take permit. The HCP associated with the permit ensures the effects of the authorized incidental take are adequately minimized and mitigated.

Enhancement of survival permits

These are issued to non-federal landowners participating in Safe Harbor Agreements or Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances. These agreements encourage landowners to take actions to benefit species, while also providing assurances that they will not be subject to additional regulatory restrictions as a result of their conservation actions.

Recovery and interstate commerce permits

These are issued to allow for take as part of activities intended to foster the recovery of listed species. A typical use of a recovery permit is to allow for scientific research on a listed species in order to understand better the species’ long-term survival needs. Interstate commerce permits also allow transport and sale of listed species across state lines (e.g., for recovery purposes such as a breeding program).

Learn how to apply, check your permit status, and other frequently asked questions.

National wildlife refuge special use permits

Some activities on national wildlife refuges, such as commercial use, third-party research and monitoring, require that you get special permission from that refuge. to ensure they do not interfere with

National Wildlife Refuge System commercial activities permit

Allows commercial activities on the refuge, such as:

  • Guiding hunters, anglers or other outdoor users;
  • Producing audio, video, and photographic materials of a monetary value;
  • Agriculture, such as haying, grazing, crop planting, logging;
  • Cabins (see also the General Special Use Application and Permit described below);
  • Trapping.

To get a one of these permits, contact your refuge of interest, and complete FWS Form 3-1383-C.

National Wildlife Refuge System research and monitoring special use application

Allows activities on the refuge, such as:

  • Research and monitoring activities by students, universities, or other non-Service organizations

To get one of these permits, contact your refuge of interest, and complete FWS Form 3-1383-R.

National Wildlife Refuge System general activity special use application

Allows activities on the refuge, such as:

  • Woodcutting;
  • Miscellaneous events (fishing tournaments, one-time events, other special events);
  • Cabins/subsistence cabins (depending on the information use requirement, you may need the commercial form);
  • Education activity;
  • Other (any activity not mentioned above).

To get one of these permits, contact your refuge of interest and complete FWS Form 3-1383-G.

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