Florida Statute 1004.57

Florida Statute 1004.57 sets forth the State of Florida’s declared intent to protect and preserve vertebrate fossils and vertebrate paleontology sites. All vertebrate fossils found on lands owned or leased by the state belong to the state with title to the fossils vested in the Florida Museum of Natural History for the purposes of administration. Field collection of vertebrate fossils may be conducted under the authority of a permit issued by the Program of Vertebrate Paleontology in accordance with FS §1004.575 and the University of Florida RULE 6C1-7.541 F.A.C. The purpose of the fossil collecting permit is not only to manage this non-renewable part of Florida’s heritage, but to help paleontologists learn more about the range and distribution of the state’s fossil animals.

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What Areas are Covered?

The state intends to encourage preservation of its heritage wherever vertebrate fossils are discovered; the state encourages all persons having knowledge of such fossils to notify the Program of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. A permit is required for most collecting activities on all lands owned or leased by the state. This includes sites located either on submerged lands or uplands. Please note that existing regulations prohibit collecting in state parks and certain other managed areas. Check the regulations to see if your activities are covered. Fossil collecting on private land does not require a permit (but you will need the permission of the land owner or manager to enter, collect on, and retain fossils from private property). Having a permit does not give you the right to collect fossils on private property without the permission of the land owner.

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What Objects are Covered?

It is Florida’s public policy to protect and preserve vertebrate fossils, including bones, teeth, natural casts, molds, impressions, and other remains of prehistoric vertebrate animals. Fossil shark and ray teeth are specifically excluded from these regulations, as are the fossils of plants, invertebrate animals (e.g., mollusks, sea urchins, crabs, etc.), and other organisms, so no permit is required to collect such specimens. A permit is required to collect fossils of all other kinds of vertebrates, namely fish (except shark and ray teeth), amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals (non-human). Collecting archaeological objects including human remains and human-modified objects (e.g., arrowheads, pottery, modified vertebrate fossils, etc.) is illegal on State land in Florida.

Who May Obtain a Permit?

Any adult with an interest in Florida vertebrate fossils may apply for a permit. These regulations apply to both residents and non-residents of Florida. Minors may also collect with a permit-carrying adult who assumes all responsibilities and obligations for the collected specimens. Minors cannot hold their own permits.

Who Must Obtain a Permit?

How is a Permit Obtained?

If you have never had a permit before, please apply for a fossil permit and follow the directions. If you have had a permit in the past, please renew your permit for another year.

By appointment only, permits may also be obtained in person at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s research and collections building, Dickinson Hall. Our staff work in multiple locations and are not always present. Please set up an appointment in advance to make sure someone will be present to issue you a permit. We can be reached at vertpaleo@floridamuseum.ufl.edu or (352) 273-1821.

What Obligations does a Permit Carry?

As a permit holder, you can help unlock the secrets of Florida’s fossil heritage and preserve this knowledge for future generations. Each year permittees add new discoveries to Florida’s fossil heritage. The holder of a permit must report any unusual specimen or unusually rich site to the PROGRAM OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY as soon as possible. At any convenient time, no later than the end of the permit year, the permit holder shall submit to the PROGRAM OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY a list of all vertebrate fossils collected during the permit year along with appropriate locality information; or the actual collections with appropriate locality information. If within sixty (60) days of receipt of the list or the actual collection the PROGRAM OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY does not request the permittee to donate one or more of the fossils collected, they may be released as ‘non-essential fossils’ to be disposed of however the permit holder may choose.

If you already have a fossil permit, you should renew it about three to four weeks before the expiration date to ensure that you receive your new card before the old one expires. Unless you indicate otherwise, the starting date for the renewed permit will be one day after your current permit expires.

Questions about Florida Program of Vertebrate Paleontology may be directed to:

Tel: (352) 273-1821
E-mail: vertpaleo@floridamuseum.ufl.edu

Mailing Address:

Program of Vertebrate Paleontology
1659 Museum Road
Gainesville, FL 32611-7800, USA

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