Federal Endangered and Threatened Species

Science Center Objects

Bird banders cannot legally band and/or mark any Federal Endangered or Threatened Species unless they have specific authorizations on their Federal Bird Banding and Marking Permit. Before the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) can issue an endangered species authorization, the bander must obtain an Endangered Species Section 10 Recovery Permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Banders should contact their regional USFWS Endangered Species Program office for more information about obtaining a Section 10 Recovery Permit.

The Section 10 Recovery Permit specifies the capture, banding, and marking activities that are approved, the personnel permitted to conduct these activities, and related information. The BBL permit authorizations for endangered or threatened species can include only these approved activities.

While the USFWS approves the scientific activities to be conducted with Federal Endangered or Threatened Species, the BBL reviews the qualifications of the banders proposing to perform the work. Hence, approval from the USFWS does not always translate into approval by the BBL when the banders lack sufficient experience to perform the requested activities. Additionally, some auxiliary marking activities approved for use on listed species by the USFWS may not be approved by the BBL. The BBL is attempting to better coordinate with the USFWS to try to resolve these differences before a Section 10 Recovery Permit is issued, but there are still projects for which the USFWS approves banding and/or marking activities that will not receive BBL approval.

Obtaining a Section 10 Recovery Permit may take 6-12 months or longer, hence, banders must plan well in advance when they are proposing projects involving listed species. The activities requiring a Section 10 Recovery Permit include:

  • Projects that will intentionally capture, band, and/or mark any listed species.
  • Projects using non-selective capture techniques located in areas where listed species are known to exist. For example, a bander mist-netting passerines at a site known to support listed passerines or contains the preferred habitat for listed passerines, even when they are not intentionally attempting to capture the listed species.

If a bander captures an individual of any listed species for which they are not authorized to band, they should release the bird unbanded. This guidance applies to extralimital records as well as situations the listed species are rare but somewhat regular migrants through an area. If banders are working at a location where a listed species is a regular migrant, they should try to obtain a Section 10 Recovery Permit from the USFWS that would allow them to band these birds. Some USFWS offices have been reluctant to issue Section 10 permits under these circumstances, in which case, the banders will have to release listed species without bands.

The list of Federal Endangered and Threatened Species is subject to periodic updates. When taxa are added to this list, the BBL will contact banders who are actively banding and/or marking of the newly-listed species and inform them of the new permitting requirements. After receiving notification, the banders should start to obtain the Section 10 Recovery Permits as soon as possible in order to minimize the potential for interference with ongoing banding projects.

Banders should contact the BBL office whenever they encounter unique situations that are not covered in this guidance, have questions, or are uncertain about whether their proposed banding activities require a Section 10 Recovery Permit. Advanced planning is very important in order to avoid potential delays in their proposed projects.

Please allow 6-12 months lead time to process your request.

This information may be sent to bbl_permits@usgs.gov.



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