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Incidental take permit application

This guide outlines the elements needed to complete and submit an incidental take permit application. This application must be submitted online by downloading the digital form (Section E), completing it, and uploading it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ePermits site OR by downloading an application form, completing it on paper, and submitting it by mail. Gathering the information provided in this guide ahead of time will streamline and improve the accuracy of the permit application.

Incidental take permits may be sought when a non-federal entity believes their otherwise lawful activities may cause take of endangered or threatened species. The term “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. A habitat conservation plan (HCP) must go with an application for an incidental take permit. The habitat conservation plan connected to the permit ensures that the effects of the approved incidental take are effectively lessened and mitigated. This permit type is most often issued for construction, utility, transportation, and other infrastructure-related projects.

Accuracy in the incidental take permit is critical because fraudulent or erroneous parts can invalidate permit coverage. Submitting an incomplete application will also delay permit coverage. Allow at least 60 days for review of most permit applications. However, you should allow at least 90 days for review of Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) or Endangered Species Act (ESA) permit applications.

Part 1. Before you act

Check with other offices, agencies, and countries. You must obtain all necessary federal, tribal, state, county, municipal, or foreign government approval to conduct the activity you propose. There may be other requirements necessary to conduct this activity of incidental take such as:

  • An import permit,
  • Collection permit,
  • Permission to work on federal or tribal lands,
  • Federal bird banding permit,
  • Corps of Engineers permits,
  • Environmental Protection Agency National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, and
  • Tribal, state, county, or municipal permits, etc.

Additionally, ensure that the incidental take permit is the permit you need by reviewing the following:

  • The USFWS Migratory Birds Program issues permits under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).
  • The USFWS Office of Law Enforcement states requirements for the import and export of wildlife and wildlife products.
  • The USFWS Endangered Species Program issues incidental take, enhancement of survival, recovery and interstate commerce permits for Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed species that are native to the United States.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has jurisdiction over whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has requirements for the import and export of plants and animals.

Part 2. Information needed for application

You will need the following information before you start filling out your application for a new incidental take permit:

  • Approval from Federal, tribal, State, county, municipal, or foreign government to conduct the activity you propose
    • Provide a copy of approvals
  • Application processing fee
    • $100 [or fee exempt (attach justification if required)] for a new permit
  • Authorized agent contact information (optional)
  • Final draft HCP
    • Species identification
      • This should be the scientific name (genus and species) and their status: endangered (E), threatened (T), proposed endangered (PE), proposed threatened (PT), candidate for listing (C), or species likely to become a candidate (LC).
        • Example: The scientific name of the Florida scrub-jay is genus Aphelocoma, species coerulescens or “Aphelocoma coerulescens” federally listed as threatened (T) in 1987.
        • Ask a veterinarian, scientist, or qualified appraiser to help you determine what type of wildlife or plant you have.
      • Provide the number, age, and sex of such species to the extent known.
    • Identification of location of the proposed activity
      • Provide the name of the state, county, tribal land, and the specific location of the proposed activity site(s). Include a formal legal description, section/township/range information, county tax parcel number, local address, or any other identifying property designation that will precisely place the location of the proposed activity site(s). Provide the approximate number of acres to be impacted and protected.
        • Example: [road/street/drive etc. name and number], Property Identification Number: ############, [city], [state]; ## acres
      • Attach a location map and plat of the project site clearly depicting the project boundaries and the footprint and location of all portions of the property that would be affected by your proposed activities.
      • Provide a complete description, including timeframes, for implementation of proposed voluntary management activities to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting federally listed, proposed or candidate species, or other species likely to become candidates. Include schedules for implementing these activities.
    • Description of the proposed activities
      • Describe the impact that will likely result from the incidental taking.
        • Example: Destruction of the species’ feeding, breeding, and sheltering habitat incidental to land preparation and construction. Single-family residential, so the development of each parcel would comprise the construction of a residential structure, driveway, installation of associated utilities and landscaping and possibly garages and pools.
      • Include quantification of any anticipated effects to the habitat of the species sought to be covered by the permit.
        • Example: Removal of native vegetation for these purposes will destroy suitable nesting, foraging, and sheltering habitat within occupied Florida scrub-jay regions. Residential development will impact 3.2 acres of occupied scrub-jay habitat.
      • Incorporate steps that will be taken to minimize and mitigate such impacts, the funding that will be available to implement such steps, and the procedures to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
        • Example: Minimization measures of avoiding clearing the lot for construction during the scrub-jay nesting season (March 1 through June 30) will be implemented when construction is almost ready to begin. Other minimization measures involving the planting or retention of scrub oaks or other native vegetation will be completed during the start of clearing or construction. Remaining minimization measures about providing information to subsequent buyers about Florida scrub-jays and the damaging effects of free-roaming cats will be implemented after the construction and sale of each new home is complete.
      • Explain the steps that will be taken to monitor and report on such impacts, including a copy of the monitoring plan.
        • Example: Due to the small scope of the proposed action monitoring will be limited to an annual qualitative assessment and report to summarize status.
      • Alternative actions to such incidental taking that have been considered and the reasons why these alternatives are not proposed for use.
        • Example: The applicant could avoid taking scrub-jays by purchasing other parcels and building elsewhere or selling the subject parcels to a third party who would not change occupied scrub-jay habitat. Neither of these options are economically viable. Furthermore, since the subject parcels are located within a subdivision and residential setting, purchase for conservation reasons by local governments or nonprofit organizations is unlikely.
      • The biological goals(s) and objectives for the HCP.
        • Example: The biological goal of this HCP is to ensure protection of xeric scrub habitat within an important population of scrub-jays through avoidance and minimization of impacts to occupied scrub-jay habitat, and to supply the maximum mitigation feasible.
      • The duration requested for the proposed permit.
        • Example: The applicant intends to complete land clearing and residential construction within 5 years of the issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP) from the Service. However, due to uncertain economic conditions, the desire to be able to transfer the permits in the future if needed, and to ensure against the possibility of the need for permit extensions, the applicant requests permit durations of 10 years.

Part 3. Accessing, creating, and using ePermits account

If you are submitting the permit application electronically, you will need to go to the USFWS ePermits Homepage and select “Create an account.”

Review the following as you fill out your application electronically:

  • Complete the application within 30 minutes or the webpage will lock you out due to security measures.
  • If a question on the application does not apply to your situation, be sure to write “N/A.”
  • Avoid responding to questions with “contact us for details,” or “please see our website.”

Review the following after you submit your application electronically:

  • If you make a mistake after submitting, contact your permit processor to make corrections.
  • Track application progress by clicking on “My Permits” in the ePermits portal.