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Aquaculture Facilities

Many species of birds may take fish at aquaculture facilities including kingfishers, herons, gulls and cormorants. Because these birds are protected by federal and state law, they may not be removed without a Migratory Bird Depredation Permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Permits will be issued only after non-lethal techniques have been used correctly.  A permit is not needed to physically or mechanically exclude fish-eating birds or to harass or scare birds away. The USDA APHIS-WS provides information about non-lethal control methods at aquaculture facilities in their technical reports on double-crested cormorants, gulls, and herons and egrets.

Follow these steps if non-lethal control methods have been ineffective and you wish to apply for a permit.

  1. Contact USDA Wildlife Services for technical assistance at (217) 241-6700 or toll free at 1-866-4USDAWS.
  2. After assessing the case, if a permit is justified, a USDA biologist will issue a WS Form 37.
  3. Submit a permit application to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service including the WS form 37 and the permit application fee. USDA-WS can provide guidance on the permitting process.