Resolution Regarding Specimens Collected on National Park Service Lands

WHEREAS, the properties administered by the National Park Service comprise some of the most important reserves of biodiversity within the United States; and

WHEREAS, scientific programs involving the collection, identification, and curation of biological voucher specimens are critical to the documentation, study, long-term management and conservation of biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, it is imperative that archival voucher specimens continue to be collected and maintained such that the maximum amount of information can be recovered by qualified researchers, both now and in the distant future; and

WHEREAS, significant expertise and resources are needed to maintain collections of biological specimens which may be damaged by insects, ultraviolet light, fluctuations in humidity and temperature, mishandling and other threats; and

WHEREAS, few National Park Service units have the trained personnel, facilities or resources to properly identify, curate and store biological specimens in perpetuity; and

WHEREAS, the American Society of Mammalogists and other professional scientific societies have developed standards for maintenance of biological collections and programs of accreditation to recognize institutions that meet these standards; and

WHEREAS, many universities and museums with accredited collections contain mammal specimens collected on property administered by the National Park Service, and these specimens are readily and freely available for study and use by National Park Service staff and others in accordance with American Society of Mammalogists Collections Accreditation Guidelines; and

WHEREAS, National Park Service policy currently dictates that institutions curate and store such specimens only on a long-term loan basis, subject to recall at any time; and

WHEREAS, this policy concerns collection administrators and scientists because it jeopardizes the integrity of research collections and the activities they support. As a result, many accredited collections have policy that currently prohibits them from accepting specimens collected on National Park Service lands. This severely limits the number of qualified scientists able and willing to conduct research critical to the effective management of these public lands;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Society of Mammalogists, meeting at their 83rd Annual Meeting at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, 21-25 June 2003 calls upon the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to work with the scientific community in developing a policy that allows the unrestricted transfer and permanent retention of biological specimens collected on National Park Service lands by accredited institutions with a history of curatorial responsibility and expertise in maintaining scientific collections.