Your Bug Collection May Be Breaking The Law In California

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – If you’re a researcher, teacher, or even a student collecting bugs to study, without a permit, you’re breaking California law.

“Yet if I was an amateur building my own collection, I don’t need a permit,” said UC Davis Entomologist Lynn Kimsey.

She has spent her life discovering new species and has only ever filed a report or had a permit for gathering endangered insects.

“I would spend all my time doing paperwork,” she said.

To collect any animal for research, you need a permit. But technically you also need one to collect insects and file a report with the state per collection.

“That piece of it has always been the case. We didn’t redraft that or change it, just the process of revamping the program has brought this piece to life,” said Jordan Traverso with California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

With millions of species to study, Kimsey said that would be impossible.

“I would need a permit to collect these, even though they’re pests,” she said while pointing to a tray of insects.

Following the letter of this law would cost researchers $400 annually.

“For us, OK, I can cover the cost, but I’m not going to make my students pay $75 a person to collect bugs, that’s just not right,” Kimsey said.

It would also affect kids K-12. Students collecting grubs for school science projects, Kimsey said would also need a permit.

“If kids were having to get permits, they’d be graduating before they would get it,” she said.

Traverso with the state department said it has to regulate all species.

“What if someone took every single earthworm because they wanted to do a project. We are responsible for monitoring that,” she said.

But due to public outcry, the state is coming up with a solution.

“We’re now working to make it easier so people can follow regulations that’s not too onerous,” Traverso said.

Kimsey believes permitting for endangered species makes sense, anything beyond that would be pesky.

The state is working on revisions, then there will be another public hearing.

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