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Cultural & Scientific Collectors Permit (Fisheries)

New online application

To apply for a Fisheries' Cultural or Scientific Collector's Permit, you must fill out and submit the online application below. Paper applications are no longer accepted. In the online application below, applicants will have to provide contact information, a "study plan" detailing what it is they would like to do, why it is being done, where the proposed activity will occur, a description of the species to be worked with, and whether animals will be removed from the wild or held in captivity. 

If you wish to provide supplemental information with your permit application in addition to the categorical information that is required to be filled out, those supporting documents can be attached within the online application environment.

Once the application has been filled out completely, choose "Submit" to submit the form electronically to the DNR.

Any applications with missing information or lacking clarity will be flagged during processing and program administrators will contact the applicant directly. 

NOTE: Applicants should avoid using the web browser Internet Explorer. If you need any assistance with this online form, please email Tom Goniea or contact by phone at 517-599-5734.

Scientific Collector Permit Application

Processing time

Processing time for applications received at the DNR Fisheries Division office in Lansing is approximately one month. Please allow a minimum of five to six weeks prior to the desired start of anticipated field activities for processing.

Approved permits will be emailed to the primary permittee in the form of a PDF at the email address provided in their application which can then be printed off and carried in the field as necessary.

If it becomes necessary to request an amendment to a permit that has already been issued, permittees are to contact and work with the program administrator directly on the requested updates.

Mandatory annual report

Permits are issued by calendar year and expire on Dec. 31. All permit holders are required to provide an annual yearend report online of the activities conducted and specimens collected or possessed under their scientific collector's permit. This report is required even if no collection or field activities occurred during the permit year.

Reports

Your report must be submitted using the online Scientific Collector Permit Report.

NOTE: Applicants should avoid using the web browser Internet Explorer. If you need any assistance with this online form, please email Tom Goniea or contact by phone at 517-599-5734.

Only reports submitted through the online portal above will be accepted. Paper or electronic reports mailed or emailed to the DNR will not be accepted or satisfy the annual reporting requirement for the Scientific Collector's Permit Program. Failure to report jeopardizes future permit eligibility.

Disposal instructions, field mortalities and end of possession information

Information for applications interested in fish

  • Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) is listed as a threatened species in Michigan and therefore additional care is required to reduce the chance of unnecessary mortality occurring during survey work. The following restrictions will be placed on all approved permits to work with adult lake sturgeon:

    1. Gillnet sets will for no longer that 2 hours;
    2. No gillnet sets will be allowed when the surface water temperature is above 20°C or 68°F;
    3. Any captured Lake Sturgeon are to be transported in a live-well containing sufficiently oxygenated water to cover the fish. On sunny days the live-well is to be covered when containing fish.
    4. At no time will any lake sturgeon be tied by a rope around any part of its body to any object for holding. Lake sturgeon must never be transported by trying a rope around any part of the body and dragging it through the water.
    5. If tagging surgery is to be performed, a sturgeon may be out of the water for no more than 10 minutes maximum. The surgery must occur out of the sun in the shade. During surgery the head of the fish is to be covered with a cloth and a constant stream of water must be flowing over the cloth. Alcohol is recommended to clean the site of incision before any cutting. No alcohol is to be used once the incision has been made.
  • NOTE: The following requirements will generally apply to all Scientific Collector Permits working with fish as a universal precaution regardless of whether the permittee is working in VHS positive waters or not.

    A few exceptions I have been made for single source permits. Examples:

    1. A nature center that takes trips to a single lake or stream a couple times a week with students; and
    2. A research study where the boat and equipment is assigned to a single body of water and is not removed during the entire survey season.

    If live fish collection, transport, and holding are going to occur:

    In response to the VHS virus concern in Michigan, the following is required for collecting, transporting, and holding live fish from the wild:

    1. All equipment coming in contact with water and/or fish and/or specifically working with aquatic invertebrates including: boat hulls, boat trailers, buckets, waders, nets, etc. must be disinfected using a 1 cup of bleach to 10 gallons of water solution at the end of each sampling day or prior to entering each successive water body if more than one is being sampled per day. If long periods of time (a week or longer) are anticipated in between sampling events, thorough drying of all equipment in the sun is an acceptable alternative to using the bleach solution.
    2. If using a boat, live wells and bilges must be emptied and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 10 gallons of water at the end of each sampling day or prior to entering each successive water body if more than one is sampled per day.
    3. All water used to transport live fish or aquatic invertebrates from the point of capture to the holding location must be disposed of in a municipal sewer system w/ water disinfection capabilities or on the grass/ground at least 300' from a water body.
    4. All live fish that have been held for study, when they are no longer needed, must be euthanized and disposed of in a licensed landfill or any other approved location provided by the applicant. Under no circumstances are any live fish after being removed from a water body and held elsewhere to be released.
    5. All water used to hold and rear fish or in performing any experiments must be disposed of in a municipal sewer system w/ water disinfection capabilities or on the grass/ground at least 300' from a water body.
    6. All voucher specimens must be euthanized while in the field and preserved in a formalin or ethanol solution prior to transportation.

    If the permit is strictly catch and release (w/ a few voucher specimens):

    In response to the VHS concern in Michigan, the following is required:

    1. All equipment coming in contact with water and/or fish and/or specifically working with aquatic invertebrates including: boat hulls, boat trailers, buckets, waders, nets, etc. must be disinfected using a 1 cup of bleach to 10 gallons of water solution at the end of each sampling day or prior to entering each successive water body if more than one is being sampled per day. If long periods of time (week or longer) are anticipated in between sampling events, thorough drying of all equipment in the sun is an acceptable alternative to using the bleach solution.
    2. If using a boat, live wells and bilges must be emptied and disinfected with a 1 cup of bleach to 10 gallons of water solution at the end of each sampling day or prior to entering each successive water body if more than one is being sampled per day.
    3. All voucher specimens must be euthanized while in the field and preserved in a formalin or ethanol solution prior to transportation.

Information for applicants interested in reptiles and amphibians

  • Reptile and Amphibian Disinfection Protocol

    Disease transmission between reptile and amphibian populations is becoming an important issue. To prevent disease transmission between study/collection locations that are not "water connected" or that animals don't move freely between, the following disinfection protocols are provided. The procedure should be completed on all gear/equipment that may have touched site water or was used to handle animals, including but not limited to:

    • Waders
    • Shoes/boots
    • Dip nets
    • Rulers and other instruments
    • Specimen bags/containers
    • Traps

    Materials that will be needed for disinfecting equipment include:

    • Plastic bucket
    • Gallon of chlorine bleach
    • Two stiff scrub brushes, one for sterilization and one for cleaning off mud/dirt
    • Spray bottle

    Procedure:

    Step 1: Before leaving the site, wash off as much of the mud/dirt on equipment and gear in the site's water source removing any vegetation or detritus attached.

    Step 2: Fill bucket with two gallons (eight quarts/32 cups) clear water.

    Step 3: Add 36 capfuls (1 cup) of bleach (3% concentration) and stir to mix.

    Step 4: Rinse off any equipment used in the bleach solution. NOTE: Do all sterilizing with bleach solution well away from streams or ponds

    • Dip shoes in solution and scrub and shake off.
    • Dip and scrub waders in bucket or lay them on the ground and pour solution on them. A spray bottle can also be used to apply solution.
    • Sterilize brushes in solution.

    Step 5: If possible, save any remaining sterilization solution in a sealable container for future use. If solution must be discarded, dispose of on asphalt, cement or hard roadbed, away from any water bodies.

    Step 6: If at all possible, allow gear and equipment to dry completely before use at next site.

    NOTE: While it is still recommended, permittees collecting or working in a single site location are not obligated to disinfect gear/equipment. This includes nature center permittees working solely on their own property.

  • Be very cautious on handling reptiles and amphibians as they are carriers of Salmonella bacteria. Whenever possible, wild reptiles and amphibians should be left in the wild unless they are being harvested according to state regulations.

    If you handle any reptiles or amphibians, wash your hands thoroughly before moving on to the next activity. Reptiles and amphibians have the potential to carry and transmit Salmonella on their bodies regardless of how clean or healthy they appear. Furthermore, animals may carry the germs regardless of whether they are a pet, at a school, in a petting zoo, or in the wild.

    The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that each year Salmonella causes an estimated 1.2 million illnesses; 23,000 hospitalizations; and 450 deaths in the U.S. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours after infection that last four to seven days. Although most people recover without treatment, in some, the severity of the illness can lead to hospitalization.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a brochure on the connection between reptiles and amphibians to Salmonella and some precautions people can take to limit their risk of getting sick. The emphasis of the brochure is on small turtles because children are more likely to come into contact with them and then touch their mouth or eyes, but the precautions suggested can be applied to contact with all reptiles and amphibians.

    For more information and to download the brochure, visit the FDA's website.

  • Importation of Protected Native Turtle Species

    The North American wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta), Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina), and Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) are native to Michigan and protected as a Species of Special Concern from wild collection and possession. The spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) is also native with elevated protective status as a threatened species. As protected species, a scientific collector's permit is required to collect and possess these turtles from the wild, however authorization to collect these or any other native species listed as special concern, threatened, or endangered for personal possession will NOT be issued. There are no legal captive breeding programs for native reptiles or amphibians in Michigan, so in state purchase of any kind is also not legal. Furthermore, a scientific collector's permit will not be given to import or possess these turtles from outside Michigan regardless of source.

    The Department of Natural Resources regulates the collection and possession of native/endemic species from the wild. The Department does not regulate the pet trade (unless it involves the poaching of native species from the wild). Purchase and possession of native turtle species from legal sources outside Michigan is legal but not advised. The onus is on the person who purchases and brings them into Michigan to prove that any native species in possession did not come from the wild. Bill of sale listing the species, number purchased, and location of purchase is required to be kept with the animal at all times for the duration of its life. A clean health certificate is also advised. This documentation must be provided. All native protected species in possession without documentation of origin will be assumed to be from the wild, subject to confiscation, and in all likelihood destroyed. The person in possession would be subject to ticket. Due to disease transmission and genetic concerns any turtle that is purchased or intermingled with store bought turtles cannot be released to the wild under any circumstances.

    Do not let any imported native turtles breed. Even with parental documentation of origin, there will be no documentation for the juveniles produced. The offspring will be illegal and subject to confiscation and ticket. It is also illegal to release any offspring.

    The Michigan Department of Natural Resources STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST the purchase, importation, and possession of protected native turtle species obtained outside of Michigan. Besides the legal onus on the individual to prove they did not come from the wild, when cared for properly, these turtles will live 50 to 100 years. That is the commitment expected of anyone getting turtles to make! Where will you be 50 years from now? Obviously given the type of time commitment required it is advised that turtles not be given to children as pets. If at any point in the future, a pet turtle is no longer wanted it can either be adopted or killed. Those are the ONLY two options. If adoption is not an option, the owner must be willing to euthanize. Again due to disease transmission and genetic concerns any turtle that is purchased or intermingled with store bought turtles cannot be released into the wild under any circumstances.

    Finally, evidence strongly suggests the purchase of these protected species (even from "legal" sources) supports illegal collection/poaching activities in their native ranges. Michigan has a history of the illegal collection and funneling of these species to out-of-state middle men or over the internet for sale in the pet trade or movement overseas (Operation Slither 2003). As recently as March 2009, similar poaching activities were investigated and charges brought in New York State (Operation Shellshock).

    If a person insists on obtaining a native Michigan turtle as a pet, the department strongly suggests a painted turtle which may be collected for personal use in limited numbers under a Michigan recreational fishing license. This species is considered extremely common throughout Michigan and its native range. 

  • The Michigan DNR has partnered with Herpetological Resource and Management, LLC to create and administer an inclusive database of reptile and amphibian sightings in Michigan. This project has become commonly known as the Michigan Herp Atlas. While not required, you are encouraged as a Michigan Scientific Collector's Permit holder working with herp species to aid in this effort by visiting the project website and providing locations (Lat and Long or Township/Range/Section) of any reptiles or amphibians you encounter while in the field. The Michigan Herp Atlas website is https://www.miherpatlas.org/. Observational reports can be made online through the atlas website or by contacting David Mifsud (DMifsud@HerpRman.com). Reports of all species are welcome. 

Additional information

  • ATTENTION: A Scientific Collector's Permit does NOT authorize legal access to or use of DNR-managed public lands. For any potential activities taking place in Michigan's state forests, state parks, state recreation areas or state game areas, a land use permit may also be required in addition to the Scientific Collector's Permit. There is no application fee for scientific collectors to secure a state land use permit and obtaining the permit will help ensure that conflicting uses on state lands will be minimized during your research or collection activities. On the State Land Use application, under the type of use, choose "other" and specify "scientific collectors permit". 
  • In addition to the Fisheries Division's Scientific Collector's Permit, applicants interested in working with or possessing a fish, reptile, amphibian, mollusk, or crayfish species listed in Michigan as either threatened or endangered must also secure a Threatened and Endangered Species Permit. Interested persons should contact Casey Reitz or call 517-248-6210.

Recognized Michigan species and their health status

(special concerned, threatened, endangered)

Note: When applicable, the list includes established exotic species

Salmon in the classroom

Schools participating in the program will have permits which expire May 31 of each year and should visit the Salmon in the Classroom web page for additional information.

Learn more about Salmon in the Classroom