Endangered Species Permit Law and Legal Definition

Endangered Species Permit is a document issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under authority of Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) allowing an action otherwise prohibited under Section 9 of the ESA.

Persons planning to conduct any activity resulting in the ‘take’ of an endangered or threatened species, whether or not deliberate, must possess a permit to perform that activity.

Endangered Species Permits are of two types:

1. Recovery and Interstate Commerce Permits: Permits for scientific research on a listed species or to enhance the propagation and survival of the species (ESA Section 10(a)(1)(A)).

2. Incidental Take permits: Permits for taking species incidental to (not the purpose of) an otherwise lawful activity (ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B)).

Section 10(a) of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C.S. § 1539, allows the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue endangered species permit. The section reads as below:

(a) Permits.

(1) The Secretary may permit, under such terms and conditions as he shall prescribe--

(A) any act otherwise prohibited by section 9 [16 USCS § 1538] for scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species, including, but not limited to, acts necessary for the establishment and maintenance of experimental populations pursuant to subsection (j); or

(B) any taking otherwise prohibited by section 9(a)(1)(B) [16 USCS § 1538(a)(1)(B)] if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity.

(2) (A) No permit may be issued by the Secretary authorizing any taking referred to in paragraph (1)(B) unless the applicant therefor submits to the Secretary a conservation plan that specifies--

(i) the impact which will likely result from such taking;

(ii) what steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate such impacts, and the funding that will be available to implement such steps;

(iii) what alternative actions to such taking the applicant considered and the reasons why such alternatives are not being utilized; and

(iv) such other measures that the Secretary may require as being necessary or appropriate for purposes of the plan.

(B) If the Secretary finds, after opportunity for public comment, with respect to a permit application and the related conservation plan that--

(i) the taking will be incidental;

(ii) the applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impacts of such taking;

(iii) the applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be provided;

(iv) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and

(v) the measures, if any, required under subparagraph (A)(iv) will be met;

and he has received such other assurances as he may require that the plan will be implemented, the Secretary shall issue the permit. The permit shall contain such terms and conditions as the Secretary deems necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this paragraph, including, but not limited to, such reporting requirements as the Secretary deems necessary for determining whether such terms and conditions are being complied with.

(C) The Secretary shall revoke a permit issued under this paragraph if he finds that the permittee is not complying with the terms and conditions of the permit.