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Terrestrial Scientific Collector's Permit

Photo of a tiger salamander

Tiger Salamander

Research or educational projects that involve capture, handling and/or possession of protected live wild animals or wild animal parts found in Montana require annually approved Scientific Collector's permits. The specific activities that require this type of permit are capture and handling of any live animals, wild bird banding, educational display of live wild animals, rehabilitation of wild animals, temporary housing of wild animals, and salvage of wild animal parts. Permits for the capture and handling of wild animals are approved only for projects with well defined study objectives and projects that result in valid scientific findings or management recommendations.

There are six different activities that require a Scientific Collector's permit. These activities are:

Scientific Collecting

This includes all capture and handling of live animals as part of a research or educational project.

Note: Capture and handling of federally listed threatened or endangered species also requires a federal permit, see Note #1 below. IACUC review and approval may be required, see IACUC section below.

Bird Banding

This includes all capture and handling of birds for banding with federal bands, color bands, etc.

Note: Bird banding also requires a federal bird banding permit, see Note #2 below.

Educational Display

This includes the use of live animals for education displays or public education presentations.

Note: Display of wild animals in a zoo setting for profit requires a zoo or menagerie permit.


This includes housing, treating, and caring for injured or orphaned wild animals.

Note: Rehabilitation of federally listed threatened or endangered species also requires a federal permit, see Note #1 below.


This includes temporary housing and care of wild animals intended for relocation.


This includes collection of wild animal parts or carcasses for research or educational purposes.

Note #1:

A federal permit is required for any project that entails the handling or capturing of species listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act or that may impact federally listed species. A list of Montana wildlife species that are listed under the federal ESA can be found on our Threatened and Endangered Species pages and at the USFWS Montana Ecological Services Field Office.

Note #2:

Montana birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (as amended), with the exception of rock doves (domestic pigeons), house sparrows and starlings (both exotic species). Any project that entails handling or capturing of migratory bird species therefore requires a federal permit issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. A federal permit must be obtained before a Montana bird banding/possession permit can be issued.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Approval:

An Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) review is required to capture or handle Montana wildlife. Applicants can apply for a review by the MFWP IACUC committee if one is not available through other means, typically universities have their own committees. Capture or handling activities must not begin until an official review has been completed. Federally permitted bird banding does not require an IACUC review unless extensive handling and long holding times are anticipated, such as in the case of radio telemetry work or the collection of multiple blood samples.

The purpose of this committee is to provide oversight for procedures used to capture and handle wildlife during scientific study and management activities in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act and State law. Although exhibition, transport and trade are mentioned in the Act they fall outside the purview of this particular committee.

The FWP-IACUC will evaluate requests based on the following criteria with the emphasis on the suitability of the request as it relates to animal welfare issues:

  • Scientific merit (as it relates to animal welfare and appropriateness of study design)
  • Resource commitment (animals; personnel; equipment; funds - are they suitable to insure animal welfare)
  • Effect on animal (degree of stress in relation to project justification; conflict with ongoing studies; appropriate methodologies)


Terrestrial Scientific Collector's Permits (MCA 87-2-806, Section 5) require permittee shall pay $50.00 for the permit, except that a permittee who is a representative of an accredited school, college, university, other institution of the learning, or of any governmental agency is exempt from payment of the fee. Rehabilitators are also exempt from this fee.

Checks will be cashed upon receipt due to mandatory administrative procedures. Refunds will be issued if a permit is denied.

Collector's Permit Laws

Collector's Permit Applications and Reporting Form

Denial of Scientific Collector's Permit Application

According to MCA 87-2-806, Montana State Law provides for denial of permit for any of the following:

  • The applicant is not qualified to make the scientific investigation;
  • the proposed collecting is not necessary for the proposed scientific investigation;
  • the method of collecting is not appropriate;
  • the proposed collecting may threaten the viability of the species; or
  • there is no valid reason or need for the proposed scientific investigation.

Scientific Collector's Permit Reporting Requirements

A report of activities conducted under the provisions of this permit must be sent to Fish, Wildlife & Parks by December 31 of the year issued. The report should list the number of animals handled, including species, date, specific location, other known biological information of animals handled and cause of death if known. This information will be used for administrative purposes, and to supplement location information in the Montana Natural Heritage Program on species of concern in Montana. Specific information will not be published or made available to the general public without permission of the permit holder. A permit will not be issued until the report from the previous year's work has been submitted and accepted.