Did you know it is illegal to collect nests, feathers, eggs, and other bird parts from the wild to use in the classroom?

This is because most birds in Minnesota are migratory or protected and fall under the protection of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "Migratory Bird Treaty Act." To collect these items, you must possess both a State and a Federal Salvage permit.

  1. State Permit Instructions: Contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at 651-259-5203 to apply for a Wildlife Salvage Permit. No fee.
  2. Federal Permit Instructions to download the Special Purpose - Salvage form and mail it in. (There may be a $50 - $100 permit fee.)

Neither the State nor the Federal permit covers the salvage of endangered or threatened species. Check with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the DNR before accepting animal carcasses or parts from other parties. Use this as a "teachable moment" to ensure that wanton collection of wild birds don't threaten the health of important species. Keep your permits in your classroom, and you're covered. If you have questions, contact your local DNR Conservation Officer


graphic drawing of a bird's nest with eggsCollection Tips

(taken from Project Learning Tree PreK-8 Activity Guide)

  • Never collect material from an area unless you have permission from the person or organization who owns the land. You may not collect any material form national or state parks.
  • Never collect rare or endangered species.
  • Never collect a plant if it's the only one growing in a particular area. Instead, collect plants that are growing in groups, or stands.
  • Collect only healthy plants. Don't dig up plants that are infested with insects or look sick. Also be sure to wash the leaves, stems, and roots of all the plants you collect before you plant them in your terrarium.
  • If collecting specimens for a terrarium, be sure to collect plants that grow in under the same light, temperature, and moisture conditions that are in the terrarium. As you dig up each plant, be sure to collect as many of the plant's roots as you can.
  • Use plastic bags to protect the plants you collect. Loosely wrap the plant's roots in a wet paper towel, place it in a small plastic bag, and then trap some air in the bag and seal it.
  • If you collect your own soil, be sure to sterilize it before you use it in your terrarium. Just place the soil on a shallow baking pan, bake it at 250 F for two hours, and then let it cool.