Wildlife Scientific Programs and Permits

All persons who take or attempt to take wildlife and aquatic specimens for education, research, or collection must possess a Scientific Permit or be in the presence of a Scientific Permit holder.  

All persons who enter any WMA for scientific or educational purposes must possess a WMA or Research Permit. 

Sub-permittees listed on a Scientific Permit may collect outside the presence of the Scientific Permit holder.

Scientific Permits will not be issued to students. Professors may apply for the permit and add the student(s) as sub-permittee(s).

The Scientific Permit does not relieve you of compliance with other state and federal regulations and does not authorize trespass.  Collecting on public lands not owned by TWRA may require a separate permit.

FEDERAL PERMIT is required to collect MIGRATORY and/or FEDERALLY ENDANGERED OR THREATENED WILDLIFE and BAT projects where there is a potential for take of federally protected bats.

A Federal Permit is also required in order to salvage whole or parts of migratory birds, owls, and raptors.


The Scientific Permit Final Report is due within thirty (30) days of permit expiration.  Failure to submit the Final Report may result in future permit applications being denied. 

Prior to conducting any field work, the permit holder or sub-permittee is required to file a report with the appropriate regional TWRA Dispatcher (Contact information supplied with permit).

The information you collect is very important and contributes to the body of knowledge regarding our natural resources.  TWRA requires that you share your information with us so that we can better manage our fish and wildlife resources.

Equipment (Gear)

All equipment or gear left unattended in the field must be marked with the permit holder’s name and permit number.  Failure to do so may result in loss of equipment/gear. 

Permit Types

Terrestrial Permits are for people who wish to conduct research/consulting on wildlife (mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians- (does not include amphibians that spend their entire life in an aquatic habitat).


  • An educator wishes to study frogs and will be conducting their study on public and private lands throughout the state.
  • A person who is authorized to band birds wishes to set up mist nets to capture migratory birds to band them.

Aquatic Permits are for people who wish to conduct research/consulting, on aquatic species including amphibians (who spend their entire life in an aquatic environment), or any type of water quality testing when fish are collected.


  • A researcher wishes to conduct a study on hellbenders.  They only wish to study their habitat.  They only wish to observe the hellbenders in their natural environment.
  • A consulting firm bids on a job to do a presence/absence study on a stream.
  • An educator wishes to take their students out to a stream to demonstrate proper techniques for electroshocking and identification of all fishes in the stream.

WMA (Wildlife Management Area) Permits are for people who wish to conduct research pertaining to wildlife and/or fish solely on a WMA. Same as Terrestrial and Aquatic permits.


  • An educator/researcher wishes to study wildlife or fishes on one or more WMAs.  Their study area does not include any other public or private lands.

Research Permits are for people who wish to conduct any type of study or field trip on a WMA that does not include wildlife or fish.


  • An educator wishes to take a class to a WMA to teach students how to identify trees by their leaves, bark, and twigs.  Students will be taking samples from trees for their lab books.
  • A researcher wishes to study the butterfly lifecycle. 

Reporting Requirements

Once you have received your permit, prior to any fieldwork being conducted, you must notify the appropriate regional TWRA Dispatcher. 

  • You must report who, when, where, and what you are collecting prior to collecting in the field. 
  • A document containing all the contact information will accompany your permit. 
  • Failure to do so, is a violation of the law.

All persons who receive a Scientific Permit must file the required reports at the end of the permit cycle (one year). 

  • Final reports shall be filled out accurately and submitted in a timely manner. 
  • The reports are located in your account. 
  • You may either upload the report using the form supplied or fill out the online form inside your account. 

Apply for a Scientific Permit

Apply for a Scientific Permit for the state of Tennessee.

If you already have an account, log into the system using your username and password. 

Tennessee Aquatic Stream Clean-Up Grant Program

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has a grant to assist with stream clean-up projects across the state.  The program is designed to assist cities, schools, community organizations, civic groups, watershed organizations, and conservation groups, with stream clean-up projects.

Learn more about the program and fill out an application here.