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


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. 

Rule 68A-16.003 of the Florida Administration Code became effective on March 2, 2017.  The new rule eliminates the need for a FWC permit for on-site destruction of an inactive nest (meaning a nest that does not contain eggs or flightless young) of nonlisted birds which are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The rule does not provide authorization for birds listed in rule 68A-27 F.A.C. (federal and state listed species) or rule 68A-16.002 F.A.C. (bald eagles).  Accordingly, on-site destruction of inactive nonlisted migratory bird nests is currently permitted by rule and no longer requires a FWC permit.

We recommend that you contact the USFWS Region 4 Migratory Bird Permit Office by phone at (404) 679-7070 or email to determine what federal authorization or permits are required for any activity involving nonlisted and listed migratory bird species, their nests and any part thereof.

The FWC will be updating osprey nest removal policies in 2017.

Florida Burrowing Owls

The Florida burrowing owl is listed by the FWC as a Threatened species. 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. Incidental take permits are needed for the collapse or removal of burrowing owl burrows. Incidental take permit applications are reviewed on a case by case basis. Protection criteria for non-urban situations or situations where numerous burrows will be impacted will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. To assist applicants, please review the Frequently Asked Questions. Applicants should include the Burrowing Owl Supplemental Application with their online application materials.  

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.

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, a listed/protected species scientific collecting or educational possession permit, 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.

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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 Sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) is the official state tree of Florida. Its berries are eaten by wildlife.

Learn More at AskFWC