I’m curious about a message I received asking me to collect something (I actually know they were wrong, and I legally cannot do what they were asking me to do, and told them thusly) but they referenced some overarching iNat rules on collecting specimens which I cannot find, specifically they said:
“As per iNat guidelines and so you are aware, as we are not dealing with any vertebrates, no permits are needed to collect this plant unless you find it in a State or National Park or on Native Land or Conservation area. Areas like National Forests are okay to collect.”
Well, this is actually not true for my state in multiple ways; but have been looking around and cannot find any iNaturalist stated rules (which would make sense, how can this site keep track of every state and every country and municipality etc) but just making sure…that something doesn’t need to be changed and I am not missing something.
Oh they are a legit researcher, just being shady which is an easy way to get my dander up. It further annoys me because I know a colleague who already corrected them, so I have searched out and sent an email to their advisor, as what they are actually asking for is illegal without a state permit so I am sure their advisor would like to know what their student is doing.
I was quite concerned though with them sending this to everyone with this, as many wouldn’t know, and they’re just saying according to iNaturalist it is okay. So since there are no “iNaturalist says this is okay” reference, in actuality, I am thinking I should send this to email@example.com because they are invoking inaturalist?
i think this is fair. you may also want to reach out to the researcher’s organization, if it turns out this is intentionally shady behavior.
before you said that you researched and determined that this communication was with a legitimate researcher, i was thinking that this sounds like a potential case of scamming. (iNat has rules about spamming, but i’m not sure they have any particular guidance about scamming, except to say that the system is not supposed to be used for profit.) had there been bad actors trying to push scams on the platform, it might have been time for the platform to develop policies and methods to deal with that.
Inat, to my extent of knowledge cannot “stop” you from taking plants, animals, fungi, etc; they can flag a post if poaching is seen in a photo. Legal laws take precedence over the Inat guidelines, i.e. it is illegal in NY to pick any wild orchid due to their rarities/vulnerability. I would NEVER ship anything to anyone that contains biological matter(wild plants, fungi, dead insects, etc) due to the fact that there is a chance it could contain native species that would establish itself as an invasive species in the area. Collecting federally threatened organisms without a legal collection permit can result in hefty fines and prison time, and these types of organisms may be sold on the black market and can lead to invasive species problems(Monk Parakeets in New York and Burmese Pythons in Florida).
This is a true statement. You shouldn’t need a permit to collect in National Forests.
There are no “iNat guidelines” for collecting, as others have mentioned.
For areas owned by your county or state, contact officials from the local parks service to obtain a permit. For collecting in privately owned areas, contact the owner of the land for explicit permission.
In case it wasn’t clear - I am NOT going to collect for them.
I actually work in a similar field, and know for a FACT that it would be illegal here. They actually are interested in invertebrates (that may be on the plant) which require a state permit.
Was just trying to check on if there was some iNat page out there that should be edited or that I was missing or… but to be trying to get people to collect stuff because iNat says it’s okay…I wanted to know if iNat really says that’s ok xD
Basically, someone is saying, “As I’m sure you’re aware…” as a bluff, hoping people will go along with it. If this is a one-off, it’s probably not worth worrying about one way or the other. If this is more common, it might be worthwhile for iNaturalist to have an actual statement about collecting specimens to make it easier to figure out that the claim about iNaturalist is incorrect.
If iNaturalist were to have such a statement, I recommend something noncomittal. Perhaps along the lines of “iNaturalist does not take a position either in favor of or in opposition to the collection of specimens, but if you are going to collect specimens, we urge you to do so only with the consent of the land owner and to follow any applicable laws and regulations.”
The national forest near me actually requires a plant collection permit :)
Most states allow collections in National Forests, so it tends to be assumed all, but actually, not all. Alabama is an exception - uncommon - but exception. I have colleagues in botany here. :) IIRC Mississippi is another exception but I don’t do much botany so I could remember that convo wrong.
Depends on the plant/material. Here in North Carolina, permits are required for gathering of botanical products (specifically ginseng, galax, blood root, black cohosh, ramps, firewood - this last one probably due to risk of spreading invasive pests).
For what it’s worth, some of the comments describing U.S. Forest Service rules at the state level seem a little odd, to me. The hierarchy in the Forest Service is: nation: region: forest. “State” isn’t in the hierarchy, so generally speaking Forest Service decisions are not happening at the state level. A couple of the regions (5, 10) are the same as state boundaries (California, Alaska), and I assume there are some states with only a single National Forest. Some decisions happen to apply at the level of a state through these kinds of coincidences. So far as I can tell, there’s a fair amount of discretion at the National Forest level. When in doubt, I would call or visit the offices of the National Forest in question and ask.
(It occurs to me that there’s at least one National Forest, Humboldt – Toiyabe, that crosses Forest Service region boundaries. What happens in that case, I do not know. It might not be safe to assume that a decision made at the region level applies to the entirety of a state even when the region and the state are depicted as having the same boundaries.)
I think I was messaged about the same thing! Was it about Ghost Pipe plants (genus Monotropa?)
I was kinda put off by the request, so I didn’t respond. I think they were asking me to check the flowers for certain insects or something.
I received one professional message about collecting a milkweed longhorn beetle, but I haven’t seen any since to help the researchers. Obviously, if it’s something you are uncomfortable with, ignore the request or politely explain why they are incorrect about local laws.
A year or two prior, we received a request from a University (student researcher) to collect milkweed seeds in support of research on hybridization. We didn’t do any research on permitting. We simply replied that the land was owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy and that the researchers could pursue written authorization to be presented to us before we would consider collection. They did not communicate further with us about it.
If a researcher wants you to collect something on their behalf, and you’re at least half-way willing to do so, I would put the burden on them to look into the legality of it and provide the documentation supporting it. You shouldn’t have to do the work of ensuring that your collecting won’t get you in trouble.
I’m not sure I fully understand what you are saying, so forgive me if I am way off base. “National Forests support state permitting requirements”, means if you are collecting in a National Forest in North Carolina, you must have all the permits that are required by NC. And if you are collecting in the same National Forest but across the state border in Virginia, you must have all the permits that are required by VA. In other words, you don’t need any additional permits from the National Forest, but you still must conform to the laws of the state.
In practice, I’d say it is wise to take care yourself for appropriate permits or ensure that none is needed. In case someone says that it is legal to collect something and it proves that they informed you wrong, who will be in trouble?