[PERMIT-L] FW: Information on importing biological specimens

Shelton, Sally Y. Sally.Shelton at sdsmt.edu
Fri Jul 15 07:24:15 MDT 2011

Forwarded from MAMMAL-L. 
From: Mammalian Biology [MAMMAL-L at SI-LISTSERV.SI.EDU] On Behalf Of Robert Sikes [rssikes at UALR.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2011 4:38 PM
Subject: Information on importing biological specimens

Below is a message from Ellen Paul, Executive Director of the Ornithological Council, with valuable information about importing biological specimens.  This is good information to save to file and use as a starting point each time you face importation issues.


Hi, Bob,
Thanks for posting this to Mammal-L for me.

In the past month, 3 people have had problems importing samples of bat blood, tissue, and skin. This info is provided just to alert everyone where to START looking for info about import restrictions. It is a whole lot more complicated, particularly as to procedure, than this. CITES in particular is problematic.

Imports of wildlife "stuff" - as in whole specimens, body parts, tissue, blood, excreta, skin, feathers, etc - is regulated by at least one of three agencies.


Permits are required for anything protected under the

- Migratory Bird Treaty Act <http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/RegulationsPolicies/mbta/mbtintro.html><http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/RegulationsPolicies/mbta/mbtintro.html> which is almost every bird species in the U.S.
- Endangered Species Act (don't guess - look it up: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/)
- CITES (again - don't guess, look it up - http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/species.html).

In addition, the USFWS has two different Lacy Act enforcement authorities. First, your material must have been legally collected in the country of origin. You should be sure to have your in-country permit and any required export permits with you if you are carrying the material in yourself as you may be asked for it. This applies to ALL wildlife, not just species protected under U.S. Law. Second, the Lacey Act also prohibits the import of injurious wildlife; this applies primarily to live animals and the list is short:


for more info: http://www.fws.gov/fisheries/ans/ANSInjurious.cfm

USDA APHIS Veterinary Services

APHIS regulates the import of animal "stuff"  that could carry certain pathogens that are primarily of concern to agricultural animals.

Birds - permits are required to import bird "stuff." Always. Every single bird import. Regardless of species, regardless of origin. What changes is the conditions on the permit. Depending on where the bird stuff is from and whether or not your lab is USDA-certified as a BSL-2 lab, you may or may not be able to import that bird stuff untreated. There are specified treatment methods you can chose from.

For mammals, APHIS is concerned with certain pathogens that affect ruminants, swine, and equids. Permits are required for import and again, depending on where it is from and whether or not your lab is USDA-certified as BSL2, you may or may not be able to import that mammal stuff untreated. There are specified methods you can chose from. I have a list (below) but it may not be up-to-date.


CDC regulates the import of animal "stuff" that could carry pathogens that are primarily of concern to human health.

Animal species restricted by CDC include certain turtles, nonhuman primates, bats, civets, and African rodents. For details on restricted animals, please see Bringing an Animal into the U.S.<http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/BringingAnimalToUs.html>


Unlike APHIS, the CDC does not, to the best of my knowledge, have a formal permit application process for animal products (they do have formal applications for live animals and etiologic agents). This page and the guidance and forms posted on it may be helpful: http://www.cdc.gov/od/eaipp/importApplicationForms.htm

I have no idea what treatment methods are approved by the CDC.

Bottom line: whenever you are importing wildlife, you have to determine if permits are needed from one or more of these agencies. And again, there are lots of documents other than the permits such as a UWFWS 3-177 declaration for ALL wildlife, whether protected by a permit or not; lots of procedures (you can't use the international mail if a permit is required; you need to mark packages a certain way, if you are carrying the material in and it is something that requires a USFWS permit, you have to enter at a designated wildlife port, M-F, 9-5, no federal holidays....and much, much more).


Ellen Paul
Executive Director
The Ornithological Council
Email: ellen.paul at verizon.net<mailto:ellen.paul at verizon.net>
"Providing Scientific Information about Birds"


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