Firstly, I would ask how one can regulate the collection of restricted species while at the same time having no regulations? Whether collecting can really effect the population of insects is another question that I don’t think we can answer without speculating. But species end up getting listed for a reason. In any case, there are other considerations beyond just bugs that would justify land-managing agencies to want to know what collecting activities are taking place, by whom, etc. For example, sensitive habitats of non-insect species (we’re all collectors here – we know we aren’t leaving behind only footprints – we’re in the forest cutting out or widening clearings to set up Malaise traps, we’re making new trails, etc.; sensitive archaeological sites (particularly for ground dwelling insects, we dig). So even from the standpoint of collecting activities themselves, their impact could go beyond the simple take of the insects we go home with.


Second, so you would claim that because cars kill lots of bugs, then there is no reason to pay attention to them in terms of regulations. So there is no sense in conservation efforts to use insects as example organisms? Or would that only be relevant to areas that aren’t near roads. Bottom line is, people kill stuff. Cars kill humongous numbers of bugs, but also vertebrates to relatively small extent. We cut down forests for agriculture. Mining destroys habitats. We do lots of things that kill wildlife. But that doesn’t mean there should be no interest in conservation. I think suggesting that because cars kill lots of bugs that they aren’t worth worrying about sends a poor message, and one that is contrary to what many feel is the importance of entomology.


Don’t get me wrong. I wish I could just go out collecting anywhere and everywhere, and just do it. I’ve done that for years. But I also recognize that maybe there are reasons that go beyond my desire. People *can* collect all over the state (speaking of CA). Research is not being thwarted, just because a person has to do some extra paperwork. You just need a permit. It isn’t unique to CA. It isn’t unique to the US. This is becoming the case everywhere – having collected in 7 different countries in the last 3 years, every one had permit requirements, every one cost money (mostly more than the CA permit (Ghana being an exception), not to mention having to pay a little extra to grease the wheels much of the time), and every one had bureaucratic hassles to deal with. One post in this thread mentioned we’re becoming like India with regards to collecting. I’ve heard very few things more ridiculous than that.






From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Frank T. Krell
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 7:29 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: collecting permits in the U.S. or Canada


The general question is: Why should insect collecting regulated at all if 20 million butterflies are killed every week on Illinois roads alone by traffic (, or if trillions of insects, i.e. several  hundred tons, are killed by traffic in Austria annually ( - what Germans and French call billions is trillions for Anglophones). This is traffic. So let’s look at development – or better not.


Isn’t collecting used as a defenseless strawman so that agencies and lawmakers can say: We do something! Or is it the ownership issue? Do all insects *belong* to an agency or a park or the government (not to the people)? And if so, for what purpose? I do not see the cost of regulating insect collecting (for both the agencies and the collectors) translating into any benefits, neither for the insects nor for society. Regulating the collecting of threatened species might be justified in particular cases, but are they really threatened by collecting?





Dr Frank T. Krell

Curator of Entomology

Commissioner, International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature

Chair, ICZN ZooBank Committee
Department of Zoology
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Boulevard
Denver, CO 80205-5798 USA
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Phone: (+1) (303) 370-8244
Fax: (+1) (303) 331-6492

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The Denver Museum of Nature & Science salutes the citizens of metro Denver for helping fund arts, culture and science through their support of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).






From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Thomas Schultz
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 7:04 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: collecting permits in the U.S. or Canada



I appreciate all of the discussion about this issue and see the pros and cons.  One issue that I haven't seen discussed is the prospect of obtaining permits for college courses in entomology or biology courses at the primary and secondary education level that involve students making an insect collection.  In my experience, this activity has had enormous impact on students in promoting appreciation for and interest in insects, both as an advocation and professionally.  While my college could easily absorb the cost of obtaining a blanket permit  for an instructor teaching our insect course, I wonder if a $420 permit might discourage other institutions and especially pre-college teachers with limited or no funding. 

Also the logistics of meeting the potential specifics requirements of such permits concerns me.  To be required to list the target species prior to collecting would be impractical and defeat the purpose of having students make a general collection.  Also, specifying the dates for collecting and resubmitting whenever plans change is impractical if there are 20+ students collecting insects outside of class time throughout a semester.

I appreciate the argument that insects are no less deserving of management that other wildlife whose taking requires permits.  I keep abreast of which species are rare or protected in my state and instruct my students to avoid them.  I also appreciate the bureaucratic hassle of obtaining permits for taking insects for research, pest control, etc.  And it is hard to imagine any practical means of enforcing such regulations.  Tiger beetles, a group with which I am familiar, include several rare and threatened species, some of which are listed at the state and federal level, and it is nearly impossible to protect them from collectors unless they occur in a National Park or Nature Preserve with an informed and alert staff. 

My point is that if proposals evolve to advise or make recommendations to agencies regarding permits to collect insects, that the issue of general collecting by students of education institutions be considered.



On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 12:48 AM, John M Heraty <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


Dear all,


I want to clarify a few points. I am trying to think of Eric Metzler's comments and not simply pursue an argumentative debate. He is absolutely right, and we need to find a common ground. However, I am having a hard time trying to find a purpose for their permitting. I intend these comments to be different from my survey results - I apologize for the length....but...


a) the purpose of the new CDFW enforcement is simply to raise money for their agency (see comments b, c and d from their posted powerpoint). I can't see a logical sense in one state agency (CDFA or the California University System) paying another state agency to do science. Steve thinks this is a minimal cost. Maybe this is true for a set of bona fide collectors, but it does not work well in a university system, where people (including students) and projects are ephemeral. As a point, the CDFW charges $105 for each amendment to a permit, including personnel changes. As far as I can tell from my one correspondence with CDFW, they see no limits on their permitting (agricultural or natural ecosystems and research). 


b) From the F&W site: Purpose [and bounds]: Bona Fide Science: Includes basic or applied research with direct application to conservation or management of wildlife resources, natural history studies, inventory or monitoring to evaluate impacts involving data reporting." Education: "Formal instruction or educational display requiring the possession or take of the State's natural resources." One has to ask the question - WHY? It is easy to see the need for revenue from hunting or fishing licenses, these go directly back to the consumer. There is no posting anywhere on what the CDFW is doing with the information from permits on insect collecting or education.


c) From the F&W site: [reason for new enforcement] "For the last 7 or so years, CDFW reviewed 1,200 to 1,500 SCPs or amendments/ year, while spending approximately $6 for every $1 of fee revenue" [if they had an interactive website, instead of pdf form submission, to do this, there would be minimal to no cost]. In fact, if there were a website, there would not have to be a cost at all. They are now trying to more broadly enforce permits so that they can increase their workload and their revenue. How does this make sense? If they provided a waiver for collecting insects, arachnids, mites and nematodes, there would be no cost at all!


d) From the F&W site: [Goal] FGC § 1002(i): fee adjustment to recover costs (not to exceed implementation costs). Fund permanent, dedicated staff.


e) are they entitled to regulate invertebrates? What is the "law" versus interpretation:


F&W Website: "A permit is required to take, collect, capture, mark, or salvage, for scientific, educational, and non-commercial propagation purposes, mammals, birds and their nests and eggs, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and invertebrates (Fish and Game Code Section 1002 and Title 14 Sections 650 and 670.7)."


Fish and Game Code Section 1002: "General. Except as otherwise provided, it is unlawful to take or possess marine plants, live or dead birds, mammals, fishes, amphibians, or reptiles for scientific, educational, or propagation purposes except as authorized by a permit issued by the department.

Notwithstanding Fish and Game Code Section 86, take includes capturing, marking, and releasing any animal."


I can find no reference to "invertebrates" anywhere in the  § 650. Scientific Collecting Permits documents, or in their posted FG1379d.pdf. Of course in the latter document, there may be more ambiguity in the interpretation of "wildlife": "to collect specimens used in laboratory work in the school under supervision and in connection with a course in wildlife research or in the conduct of wildlife investigations and studies on behalf of the public."  There is no use in their legal documents of "invertebrate", this only appears in their permit. Does this all come down to a personal interpretation of "wildlife"?


Of course, there may be a "law" that details these changes to the rules that I have not found, but they are certainly not what is posted. If there is no law, do they have appropriate jurisdiction?


f) State Permits require collectors to "notify the local Department office of the event and location of your activities prior to collecting. Notification must be made during normal business hours, at least 24 hours prior to collecting". You can also fill out their detailed form that is online.  [Ann Ray already commented on this]. I have always complied with these same requirements when I collect in California State Parks and it makes logical sense - they want to know where you are and what you are doing so that they know you are legal when they see you from a distance. F&W can do no such similar regulation - nor do they care. Steve has told me that they have negotiated not to have to file this information - so what is the point of the requirement?


g) plants are not included: "The collection, possession, transplantation or propagation of rare, threatened or endangered plants or manipulation of their habitat requires a Rare, Threatened or Endangered Plant Collecting Permit or Plant Research Permit. These permits are free and are required for activities conducted on both private and public land." This is an extremely appropriate and well thought out permit process that applies only to protected species - why can't it be the same for insects?


h) my request for information to the person in charge of wildlife permitting: "Do researchers need permits to conduct research in agricultural field plots? Do researchers need permits to take students into the field to make an insect collection for a class? What you are proposing will take an immense amount of time and effort to control, audit and oversee. I am not sure that you understand the overwhelming diversity of native (non-protected) insects in California. Please understand that these are not vertebrates. My wasps are on average 2-3 mm in size and in a single sweep net, we can collect hundreds of specimens, most of which are new to science (no scientific names). [maybe this is antagonistic, but I think not, I was only asking for their stance]


i) insects are not vertebrates. Entomology is an enterprise that spans urban entomology, pest control, agricultural entomology, biodiversity studies, education (general collecting), invasive species monitoring, ecology studies that involve thousands of people in California alone. To enforce the CDFW rules on all of these enterprises is simply impossible and illogical. Note that I am fully supportive of their efforts in monitoring protected and endangered species.


j) insects are not vertebrates. We have a tremendous untouched biodiversity that needs to be discovered. We have normal processes to monitor collecting in reserves, state parks and other protected lands. I have worked for over 20 years in California with managers to control catch, areas where I collect, and provide them with the information they need to consider further conservation efforts (for free). I have not heard anything from CDFW about their intent to use the information collected from insect collecting in any way. No other state agency in California (that I know of) charges a fee for permitting or has such onerous permitting requirements. Why CDFW?


From your general ECN correspondence, this is not just an issue in California. Overall I see this as an impossible battle. It would be easier if this were a federal regulation and we could focus on one agency. Rather we have different rules and protocols, some reasonable and some not, in every state. I don't know how to address this. Ideas are welcomed.


Steve did mention the extreme effort he went through to develop a broad collecting permit through the CDFW. This comes at a cost to all of us.


Many of my questions may be inappropriate. I have tried to contact Justin Garcia at CDFW, but after his first reply that I had to get a permit (January 5), I have not been able to get a further response to my queries (other than Feb 11 apologizing for not replying because he was too busy, but he promised an answer soon....). I simply want a waiver so that I can get a State Park Permit .... and follow their rules.


I look forward to your comments. 




John Heraty 



P.S. To address a few of Steve's concerns.


1)   Should an environmentally-focused state (any state) department *not* express a vested interest in their invertebrate fauna? Frankly, they will not (or should not) have any intervention on what we do in agricultural plots, reserves or State Parks - this is entirely up to the local permitting agencies. They understand what is best, and they do not charge. Will CDFW regulations have no impact? We generally can, and likely will, ignore the rules (especially agricultural researchers). However, I do know on someone (my daughter) being told by her PI that she could not pursue an entomological experiment on the UC Davis campus because, after contacting CDFW, she would need a permit that was beyond the costs of the project. This is scientific infringement.


2)   Given that we entomologists try to sell the importance of invertebrates (which of course they are!), why would we expect or want them to be ignored from this perspective? Insects are not mammals or vertebrates. You (or I) cannot supply CDFW with species names or even reasonable numbers of what we collect. We could certainly do this with vertebrates. So... what is the point? I have my own ways of promoting biodiversity studies, and it is not filling out endless, meaningless reports.


3)  Given that an entity permit can have as many participants as you want, is it unreasonable to charge a $420 fee to cover the entire group for three years? Is $100 unreasonable to make changes within that three year timeframe? It is not just the cost, it is the time and wasted effort to no end. IF CDFW could explain in any way a purpose to the regulations, permitting and cost of licensing collecting permits, I would be glad to do so. In other countries (and I wish there were more like this), I am providing funds for agencies and countries that are generally not very well funded. California instead is taking the approach of India, in which collecting is essentially dead. Why are they, and we, not promoting the collection and archiving of our unique faunas for posterity. This is about reason - if they did not try to actively pursue getting permits to collect insects, they could be more active in doing what they should be doing, which involved the illegal hunting and fishing of those damn things with a spine.


Please.... supply me a reason for what they are doing that makes sense.





Tom D. Schultz. Ph.D.

Department of Biology

Denison University

Granville, OH 43023

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