Interacting with wildlife
IntroductionApply for a permit to hold, catch, handle or release 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.
Find out what authorisation you will need and how to apply.
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 also help you contact the local iwi to assess whether your proposed activity will have any cultural effects.
If you're not sure which research or wildlife authorisation you need, try our decision-making tool.
- 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 email@example.com.
Identify the name and status of the public conservation land you wish to use by checking DOC maps.
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.
Applications take at least 20 working days from receipt – if we consult with our Treaty partner it will take longer. Once your application has been assessed an advisor will be able to provide an estimate of the timeframe.
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, contact our Hamilton office.
For more information or assistance with your application, contact our Hamilton office.