Interacting with wildlife
IntroductionApply for a permit to hold, catch, handle or release wildlife.
Changes to Wildlife Act authorisations from 19 August 2019
We have reviewed the types of activities that can be permitted under the Wildlife Act 1953 following a recent court decision. Get more information.
Key information for applicants:
- Authorisations to capture birds for falconry are unlikely to be granted because the purpose of the activity is for sport rather than 'the protection and/or control of protected wildlife and game'.
- Applications relating to accidentally killing protected wildlife during earthworks etc. will not be considered as the Courts have made it clear that there needs to be intention. An application to kill wildlife can be considered.
- Authorisations for pure disturbance, such as playing bird sounds to attract gannets, to encourage them to establish breeding colonies, or even feeding birds are not something an authorisation can be granted for. DOC will no longer accept these types of applications. Whether or not these activities are an offence will depend on the risk of significant harm and the level of mental agitation it causes the protected wildlife.
To catch, hold, release or kill most wildlife species you must have permission from DOC. This includes the following activities:
- catching, handling and releasing wildlife at one site
- holding wildlife for rehabilitation
- holding wildlife in captivity
- holding lizards in captivity
- disturbing or killing wildlife or their eggs
- developing land where lizards or frogs are present
- exporting live/dead wildlife
- catching and/or holding wildlife for rehabilitation
- holding dead specimen (eg, any part of the wildlife)
- transferring captive wildlife from one facility to another
- catching protected wildlife in order to hold them in captivity
- releasing captive wildlife into the wild
- catching wildlife in the wild and moving them to another wild location into which they are released.
Applying for a Wildlife Act authorisation for the first time can be complicated. To ensure your application goes smoothly we offer a free pre-application meeting.
We’ll help you to:
- Understand the authorisation you will need to apply for.
- Navigate our statutory planning documents, so you can consider whether the activity you wish to undertake is consistent with them.
- Understand DOC’s responsibility to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, which requires consultation with Treaty Partners on most applications. If you wish, DOC can help you contact the local iwi, hapū, and whānau to assess whether your proposed activity will have any cultural effects. Often this consultation can enhance the activity you are considering.
- Fill in the relevant Wildlife authorisation application form.
- If your activity involves catching protected wildlife in order to hold them in captivity and/or transferring or releasing wildlife you will also need to fill in a translocation application (available from DOC).
- If your activity involves holding protected wildlife in captivity there are some extra requirements you must fulfil. See holding wildlife.
- Email the form(s) along with the relevant documents requested to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identify the name and status of the public conservation land you wish to use by checking DOC maps.
Find out more about the process and how to prepare your application.
Permits for the allocation and use of taoka species in Otago
Note that in Otago, members of Ngāi Tahu can gain access to deceased taonga specimens or material (eg bone, feathers) for traditional purposes by completing the Komiti Taoka Tuku Iho form and are exempt from needing a permit.
If you are not a member of Ngāi Tahu, you must attain a permit under the Wildlife Act.
Complex applications could take a number of months to be processed.
Complex applications are based on the nature and complexity of the proposed activity, whether there are significant environmental effects and the number of locations where the activity is being carried out. Applications that take more time to process include:
- commercial use of the material (a concession will also be required)
- taking of any sample (including DNA) for genetic modification purposes, eg the creation of a new organism
- material being removed from New Zealand (except for purely taxonomic classification purposes)
- the application or conduct of the activity will generate significant public interest
- applications covering a large number of locations.
To get your permit as quickly as possible be specific about the area(s) and species you would like to interact with. A broader permit that covers many regions and / or species takes much longer to process because it requires considerable liaison between district offices, as well as consultation with multiple iwi.
If your application involves large areas, or the whole of New Zealand, you must also clearly express the conservation benefit or we will request that you narrow your application down.
After your application is assigned to an advisor for processing, your advisor will contact you to provide you with an estimate of the time required to process your application and let you know if there will be any associated processing fees.
Most non-commercial applications will be processed free of charge because they benefit conservation.
For standard commercial applications your fee is likely to be $400 plus GST ($460 including GST).
For complex commercial applications your fee will be $800 plus GST ($920 including GST) (including registered companies). If the application is particularly complex you will be provided with an estimate of processing costs.
We will invoice you once we have processed your application.
Exporting game birds
To export game bird carcasses, you will need a Wildlife Act Authority. The processing fee for this type of authority is $130 plus GST.
If your Wildlife Act authorisation involves:
Protected marine species
Fill in the Protected marine species: application form 9d (PDF, 1,678K) or (Word, 1,072K).
Holding or disposing of dead protected wildlife
If you are in possession of dead native wildlife you must contact DOC for instruction on its disposal.
This includes whether you have a permit to hold protected wildlife which dies, or you come across protected wildlife which is deceased ie, road kill.
Dead protected wildlife may only be held by persons with the appropriate authority. Possession of dead native wildlife without a permit carries a penalty of up to $100,000 or imprisonment of up to 6 months.
You may need to provide DOC with an annual report of your activities. This will be specified in your authorisation.
If you would like to access other research that may inform the work you are doing, get in touch.
For more information or assistance with your application, contact the nearest of these DOC offices.