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.