Where to collect plant & animal specimens?
January 23, 2009 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Where can I - legally - collect plant and insect specimens, in the southwest?

One of my classes in Tucson this semester involves creating a plant-press notebook and a pinned-insect collection; every park website, be it state or national, says removal of anything other than garbage and buffelgrass is illegal.

Is there a category of terrain that's not privately owned where I could look for specimens? Or is this the sort of activity where participants generally just ignore the rules and regulations? (This isn't killing hundred year old cacti).
posted by unmake to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It has been years since I did any collecting, but as an entomology major in college, we learned that we could collect at will in "National Forests", not to be confused with "National Parks".
posted by Edubya at 3:30 PM on January 23, 2009

You want to contact the BLM. Arizona seems more restricted than Nevada, according to a cursory googling.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:37 PM on January 23, 2009

Best answer: State recreation areas (as opposed to parks) are good places to collect (as in it is 'allowed', at least in my current state of IN).

BUT...I usually ignore the rules, and collect in the parks. I admit it! I am sorry for having sinned against the gods of the National Park System. (get a collapsible net, for quick stashing in the backpack).

You could call the individual parks to request permission. I have done that before, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

AND... you have to be careful that you are not on tribal land, because the tribal police won't take to kindly to that sort of thing.
posted by bolognius maximus at 3:46 PM on January 23, 2009

Yes, BLM land is probably your best bet. But even there, you may need a scientific collector's permit if any of the flora/fauna you want to collect is endangered or otherwise listed. Talk to your prof about this.
posted by rtha at 3:48 PM on January 23, 2009

Highway right-of-way? Not sure of the rules there, but that's one possibility.
posted by crapmatic at 4:15 PM on January 23, 2009

You can probably find a lot of stuff in people's yards and vacant lots.
posted by fshgrl at 8:27 PM on January 23, 2009

Best answer: Possession of an insect net in a national park is a $300 citation. I know alot of guys that it's happened to. The USDA, which administers the national forests, doesn't care if you collect insects (not sure about plants), but in California the State Fish and Wildlife people want you to have a fishing license. I don't know anyone who's been busted on this, and I've never been challenged, but I've met F&W people who claimed to have issued such citations.

The sky islands and Chiracauas (I'm sure I've spelled that wrong) are supposed to be fan-freaking-tastic, the other Tucson-area-specific tip that I've heard is that you want to drop everything and go the day after a monsoon.
posted by Eothele at 7:41 PM on January 27, 2009

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