Courtesy of UCANR
Courtesy of UCANR
DAVIS, Calif. — A state agency is dialing down a proposed rule requiring costly permits for collecting insects for research after hearing complaints from entomologists.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the University of California-Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology, said a plan to charge up to $75 per student or $400 per team and require lengthy paperwork for each bug-collecting expedition would “obstruct the scientific work of researchers and teachers.”
In agriculture, the rule could complicate UC Cooperative Extension’s ability to identify and study crop pests, although growers would be able to collect bugs without a permit, Kimsey said.
“Certainly all the Cooperative Extension agents and farm advisers are surveying all the time, and growers are doing the same thing,” she said. “The growers would not be doing it for research purposes, but the Cooperative Extension people might be. We constantly have growers coming to us saying, ‘Can you study this and tell me how to control it?’”
But the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking a second look at its proposal and will likely require the permits only for bugs on a “prioritized list” that would include imperiled species or other species the agency considers sensitive, spokeswoman Jordan Traverso said.
“We’re working on narrowing down the specific insects that are sensitive, which should help with the problem,” she said.
The agency received over 100 letters during a recent public comment period and has decided to seek a second round of public comments, Traverso said. In any event, if the purpose of the collection is the study or control of agricultural pests, no permit will be required, she said.
The rule is the state’s attempt to update existing regulations for collecting invertebrates that had become “really, really outdated” and weren’t being followed, Traverso said. The original rule was part of a larger set of controls on using animals for research, Kimsey said.
There are at least 100,000 different types of insects and other invertebrates in California compared to about 1,000 species of plants and less than 300 species of animals with backbones, Kimsey said. About 6 percent of the insects in nature have yet to be identified and named, she said.
If everyone in the state who was working with insects and teaching about them had to send specimen data to the DFW, they might be submitting hundreds of thousand of data entries and thousands of reports annually, most of which would provide very little data, Kimsey said.
“Museums would literally have to hire additional personnel to do the paperwork,” she said.