Protected Wildlife Permits

Species Conservation Planning Section staff issues permits authorizing impacts to Florida's protected land-dwelling wildlife.  Applications may be submitted through our new Online Permitting System for the following permits:

Or in paper form for the following permits:

Issuance of these permits is intended to authorize and facilitate land management, scientific collection, and educational activities under conditions that provide safeguards and conservation benefits to protected species.

Permits may be issued with the condition that an approved management plan be implemented demonstrating that permitted activities will result in a conservation benefit for the species.  Most scientific and educational use permits require approved research proposals or educational outreach plans.  Other permits may require adherence to FWC guidelines or species management plans.

Guidelines are available for Florida burrowing owls and ospreys found in urban areas or nesting on unsuitable man-made structures.  Management plans are available for the bald eagle, flatwoods salamander, peregrine falcon, red-cockaded woodpecker, and Miami blue butterfly.

Contact the Species Conservation Planning staff for protected wildlife permitting issues or technical assistance.

Protected fish and wildlife include those species listed as endangered, threatened or species of special concern.  Also included are migratory birds and other species protected by FWC rules.

FWC rules prohibit activities that may have a negative effect on protected fish and wildlife without a permit.  This page connects you to information about the various permits associated with protected fish and wildlife and how to apply for them.

Migratory Bird Nest Take

Osprey

Florida ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) commonly nest on power poles, communication towers, water navigation devices, lighting fixtures, outdoor billboards and other man-made structures as well as in decaying or dead trees.  These large nests sometimes render the structure inoperable or present a safety hazard.  Permits typically authorize the removal of inactive nest (i.e. nests containing no eggs or flightless young) and usually require the permittee to build a replacement nesting platform/structure of comparable or better quality than the compromised nest support.  Requests for removal of active nests (i.e. containing eggs and/or flightless chicks) are issued if the nest presents a safety hazard for the birds or humans.  Active nest removal permits are issued with less frequency on a case-by-case basis.  The FWC Osprey Nest Removal Policies Adobe PDF address additional nest removal requirements.

Florida Burrowing Owls

The Florida burrowing owl is listed by the FWC as a species of special concern.  It inhabits open prairies and cleared areas such as pastures, agricultural fields, golf courses, airports, and vacant lots in residential and commercial areas.  Burrowing owls tend to nest on vacant lots in rapidly developing urban areas because they are attracted to the disturbed soil conditions associated with early construction activities.  Hence, residential and commercial construction subsequently can be a major cause of burrow destruction, in these areas.  The Commission's policy is to issue permits to allow destruction of inactive (i.e. contains no eggs or flightless chicks) burrowing owl nest burrows only as a last resort and after all reasonable alternatives (such as realigning the development to avoid the nest) have been considered and determined impractical.  Please review Burrowing and Owl Nest Protection Guidelines and Procedures in Urban Areas Adobe PDF for nest removal requirements.

Protection criteria for non-urban situations or situations where numerous burrows will be impacted will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Migratory Birds (Nongame)

Other nonlisted nongame migratory bird species (particularly raptors) occasionally nest on the same man-made structures referenced above, causing the same conflicts as ospreys.  Additionally, some migratory birds engage in attacking behaviors which present a safety hazard to humans.  Nest removal permits are occasionally issued to address these situations.

Bald Eagles

SCP Staff issue bald eagle disturbance, nest removal, and scientific collecting permits. The FWC Bald Eagle website links to the state and federal bald eagle management plans, the statewide nest database, technical assistance for projects, regional biologist contact information, and much more.

Non Resident Falconry

Non-resident Raptor Take permits are issued to licensed out-of-state falconers wishing to hunt for raptors in Florida.  Falconers must possess a valid falconry license from both their home state wildlife agency and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  Non-resident falconers must also abide by the state falconry Rule 68A-9.005(9)(e) Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.)

Florida residents seeking to become a licensed falconer should visit the FWC Division of Law Enforcement Captive Wildlife webpage for additional information on applying for the Florida falconry license.

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Control of Nuisance and Depredating Wildlife

Avitrol® for Nuisance Bird Control

Avitrol permits are no longer required.  Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service (DOACS) licensed pest control operators no longer need a FWC permit to use Avitrol® to control nonlisted nonnative birds, primarily pigeons, which aggregate in such a manner as to become a nuisance and/or pose health risks to human populations, per Rule 68A-9.010(2) F.A.C.

A FWC permit is required for take of any state listed species.  The USFWS should be contacted to determine if federal permits are required for use on any bird species protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  Additional information is available in the following Avitrol Use Adobe PDF document.

Migratory Bird and other Wildlife Control

Most problems involving migratory birds and other wildlife species occur in the spring.  Information on control of non state listed birds and other wildlife species that create a public nuisance or cause property or other damage is available at the FWC wildlife assistance link.  If the species is state listed, contact your Regional Species Conservation Biologist or the Protected Species Permit Office for technical assistance.

A Guide to Dealing with Aggressive Raptors

Birds of prey, also called raptors, include hawks, eagles, falcons and owls. Each spring and summer, the FWC receives reports of raptors diving at people. These incidents, which are usually caused by hawks, have happened in both urban and suburban areas. Most of these events occur during the nesting season and near an active nest where there are chicks or eggs. The raptors dive at people who come too close to the nest. If you read our guide to dealing with aggressive raptors, you'll better understand how to handle this situation.

Scientific Collecting and Educational Possession

Scientific collecting (i.e. voucher, salvage, bird banding or translocation, biological sampling, gopher tortoise URTD testing, and other research activities) and listed species educational/other possession (including waif gopher tortoises) permits are issued for activities which result in take or possession of wildlife, their eggs or parts thereof for scientific, educational, exhibition, propagation, management or other justifiable purposes (68A-9.002, F.A.C.).  Applications must demonstrate scientific/educational/conservation benefits (68A-16.002, 68A-25 and 68A-27, F.A.C.) that will be accrued for the subject species as well as identify the purpose, scope, objective, methodology, location and duration of the project.

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Incidental Take Permits

Incidental take permits are issued for activities that may result in "take" of state listed species.  These species also may be federally listed.  Applications are contingent upon a habitat conservation plan (HCP) which defines the full impact on the species, describes methods proposed to minimize take, and outlines mitigation which may be rendered to offset the take.  Additional information on HCPs and incidental take permits is available on the USFWS Ecological Services site and in the online FWC Florida Wildlife Conservation Guide.

How to Apply for a Permit

Please visit the FWC online permitting site to apply for a migratory bird nest removal permit (including bald eagles), a listed/protected species scientific collecting or educational possession permit (including bald eagles), or a non Florida resident falconry permit.  The scientific collecting application is used for both scientific collecting activities and listed or protected wildlife species live possession activities.  

The following checklists should assist you in gathering the information required to apply for an online: migratory bird nest removal Adobe PDF, scientific collecting Adobe PDF (includes educational possession) or non Florida Resident Falconry permit Adobe PDF.  Applications submitted in the Online Permitting Site may be accessed at any time to check the status of any submitted application.  This feature is available to any public user of the site.

Paper-based scientific collecting, migratory bird nest removal, and non Florida resident falconry applications are also available upon request.  However, online application submission is preferred for a more timely review process.  Please contact the SCP Protected Species Permit Office to request a paper application.

The eagle disturbance application Adobe PDF and incidental take application checklist Adobe PDF are currently available only in paper form.  The submittal information is available on each form. All other requests for special purpose land dwelling listed/protected species permits not specified on this website should be prepared and submitted to the SCP Protected Species Permit Office.

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Timely response

The Florida Statutes require state agencies to approve or deny complete applications within 90 days of receipt.  Therefore, we ask you to submit a complete application and include all relevant information as attachments (e.g. scientific project proposals, educational plans and brochures, site plans, photographs, etc.). Complete permit applications, renewals, and amendment requests should be submitted a minimum of 45 days prior to the requested effective date.

Gopher Tortoises

Gopher tortoises are protected by state law, Chapter 68A - 27, F.A.C. If you have gopher tortoises on your property, you need to get a FWC relocation permit before disturbing the burrows.  A disturbance includes any type of work within 25 feet of a gopher tortoise burrow. Most typical activities associated with residential lawn and landscape maintenance do not require a permit, provided they do not collapse gopher tortoise burrows or harm gopher tortoises.

There are four available options to address the presence of gopher tortoises on lands slated for development:

  1. Avoid development;
  2. Avoid destruction of tortoise burrows;
  3. Relocate tortoises on-site (permit required); or
  4. Relocate them off-site (permit required).

Effective April 22, 2009, the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation's, Species Conservation Planning Section (SCPS) issues three types of gopher tortoise relocation permits.



FWC Facts:
The organism that causes red tide in Florida, Karenia brevis, owes its name to a state researcher of harmful algal blooms, Dr. Karen Steidinger.

Learn More at AskFWC