Legalities and Practicalities of Salvaging of Dead Birds for Museum Specimens

TitleLegalities and Practicalities of Salvaging of Dead Birds for Museum Specimens
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsKirchman, JJ
JournalThe Kingbird
KeywordsBird salvaging, legalisties, Museum collections

Recently on the NYSbirds-L listserv, an observer reported that a possible Pacific
Loon had washed up on a Long Island beach. The birder, recognizing that this
might be an important record to document with a specimen, wondered if s/he
should pick up the bird and bring it to a museum, and whether it was legal to do
this. Digital photos eventually made the rounds and it turned out that the bird,
which was never salvaged, was a Common Loon. This incident provoked a very
long “thread” of discussion among the listserv readers regarding the legalities
and practice of bird specimen salvage by the bird-observing public. By the time
the listserv administrator cut off the discussion it was clear that New York
birders appreciate the scientific value of specimens (e.g., as discussed by
Kirchman 2008, Kingbird 58: 214-219), but that the legal implications of
picking up a dead bird are not well known. One point of agreement was that
there is a need for some clarification of the laws and permits that govern the
salvage of birds in New York. As curator of the ornithology collection at the
New York State Museum, and an enthusiastic (and permitted) salvager, I am in a
position to provide some of the needed clarification and have decided to
summarize in this article what I know about the subject.