Brazilian Butterfly Permit Department?

Doug Yanega dyanega at
Wed Feb 2 18:48:03 EST 2000

>Dear Fellow Entomologists:
>I am interested in conducting a specific butterfly study at an area along
>the Tapajos river in Para, Brazil. Does anyone know of a good agency or
>department for processing and obtaining a permit to conduct the study? The
>number of specimens needed to export back to the U.S. for identification and
>additional analysis will be nominal.
>Please e-mail me with any suggestions you may have,

You do not need any US permits. All you need to do is file USFWS form 3-177
within 180 days stating what you brought back, and confirming that none of
it is CITES-protected.
        As for Brazil, however, the situation with Brazilian butterflies is
different from other insects; I was informed while working there that in
order to collect butterflies, the permit (which you must obtain from CNPq
in Brazil) needs to specify *in advance* which species, exactly how many,
and where. Then you wait a few months to see if the permit is approved.
What is especially unusual is that this is also required even for Brazilian
researchers, and it's the ONLY group of insects where a permit is
mandatory. You see, butterflies - alone among all invertebrates, as I
recall - are included in the regulations governing birds and mammals. No
one, Brazilian or otherwise, is allowed to kill birds and mammals without a
permit - and, because of the wording of the regs, same for butterflies.
        It is my recollection (from when this was explained to me) that
this was part of a recent revision of Brazilian wildlife laws, and isn't
something that has been in effect for very long, but *is* in effect now,
and ignoring it is potentially dangerous (though goodness knows many
Brazilians ignore it).
        As happens in many countries, the US included, sometimes these
blanket wildlife regulations have astounding consequences for
entomologists. Another 1998 law makes it a Federal crime to destroy or move
an animal nest in Brazil, which technically makes knocking a paper wasp
nest down from the rafters a Federal offense, with a *minimum* sentence of
6 months in jail. You can imagine the collective jaw-dropping that occurred
when Paulo Nogueira-Neto announced this, stating "We are all criminals in
the eyes of our government", to a roomful of Brazil's foremost bee and wasp
experts, who routinely destroy and move animal nests (and had never heard
of this law).
        Please note that I'm not trying to stir up a discussion of "stupid
regulations" and our peeves about them - we've all been there, done that,
many times over the years on these lists. But for people contemplating
butterfly collecting in Brazil, the situation is about as bad as it gets,
and it's worth spreading the news. Of course, the situation could have
changed in the last year, for all I know, but I did get this info directly
from one of the chiefs within CNPq, who personally reviews permit
applications, so it was as reliable a source as one can find.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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