Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act is designed to regulate a wide range of activities affecting plants and animals designated as endangered or threatened, and the habitats upon which they depend. With some exceptions, the ESA prohibits activities affecting these protected species and their habitats unless authorized by a permit from the Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Fisheries. Permitted activities are designed to be consistent with the conservation of the species.
What are the different types of permits?
The FWS Endangered Species program, located in each of our Regional offices, issues permits for native endangered and threatened species, except for import or export permits, which are issued by the Division of Management Authority. NMFS also issues permits involving certain aquatic species. Permits issued by the Endangered Species program are of three basic types:
- Incidental take permits are required when non-Federal activities will result in take of threatened or endangered species. A habitat conservation plan or “HCP” must accompany an application for an incidental take permit. The habitat conservation plan associated with the permit ensures that the effects of the authorized incidental take are adequately minimized and mitigated.
- Enhancement of survival permits are issued to non-Federal landowners participating in Safe Harbor Agreements or Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances. These agreements encourage landowners to take actions to benefit species while also providing assurances that they will not be subject to additional regulatory restrictions as a result of their conservation actions.
- Recovery and interstate commerce permits are issued to allow for take as part of activities intended to foster the recovery of listed species. A typical use of a recovery permit is to allow for scientific research on a listed species in order to understand better the species’ long-term survival needs. Interstate commerce permits also allow transport and sale of listed species across State lines (e.g., for purposes such as a breeding program).
Find answers to other frequently asked questions regarding permits.
For all the details, download the Permits fact sheet. [296KB]
Get information on other types of Service permits.
View Federal Register announcements soliciting public comment on permit applications (browse the “Notices” section for a specific year).
Learn how to apply for an endangered species permit.
Access the full library of documents related to Permits.