Salvaging Specimens for the Slater Museum
Salvaged specimens make up an important part of the holdings of museums. Unusual records or species impossible to acquire any other way often come to us from animal rehabilitators or interested people finding specimens under windows or on the roadside or beach. We are adding to both our research and teaching collections; thus we can use specimens of any mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, if in reasonably good condition. Even decomposed or damaged specimens of rare species are wanted, as they are of value as records and may be saved as partial specimens. We intend to maximize the value of such animals, and we very much appreciate the efforts of those who take the trouble to bring them to us.
You can do two things to ensure a specimen's value:
1. Note when and where the specimen was found (the most critical items).
Specimens without such information are of little use to the scientific community, although they can still be used for teaching. When salvaging a specimen, the more information the better: cause of death, habitat, or any special notes, for instance. But at the very least, slip a piece of paper in the bag with it that includes the following information:
- Locality - be as specific as possible, for example "2 mi. S of Twisp, Okanogan Co., WA"
- Date - write out the month ("1/6/88" might be 6 January or 1 June).
- Salvager's Name, address, and telephone number, so we can contact you for more information if necessary.
- Data tags - Use pencil or indelible ink; some inks run when wet. You can print a page of tags. Don't use ink jet printers because the ink runs if water or ooze from the specimen get on the tags.
2. Package it properly (if possible) in a freezer bag and freeze.
Proper storage will greatly enhance the value of a specimen.
- Plug a bird's throat with a piece of cotton or tissue to prevent blood leakage.
- Birds should be wrapped in newspaper to keep their feathers undamaged.
- Use a sturdy plastic bag.
- Squeeze the air out of the bag.
- Close the bag tightly with a knot or twist-tie.
- If the specimen is to be in a freezer for many months, it should be double- bagged; desiccated specimens are more difficult to prepare.
- Feathers and appendages are breakable, the latter especially when frozen.
- Avoid puncturing the bag with the bill, claws or teeth; wrapping in newspaper will accomplish this. Fold long specimens up.
- Watch out especially for long necks, long legs, long tails, and tail feathers.
The museum will be pleased to provide potential donors with plastic bags and tags and we will be happy to show you the disposition of your specimens when they are prepared.
If you are on Vashon Island, specimens can be dropped off at 10925 SW Bank Road (green mailbox, first drive west of Augie's sign) in a blue cooler by the garage.
It is illegal to possess animals-either dead or alive and parts thereof-without a permit to do so, if they are protected by law. Most of the vertebrate animals of North America are so protected. If you intend to salvage animals, you should request a salvage subpermit from the institution to which your specimens will be donated. We will be happy to add you to our permits for anyone seriously considering this. At this time (October 2010), the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the source of federal regulations, has decreed that private citizens can salvage specimens legally without any permits. However, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department, the source of state regulations, still insists on salvage permits.
Donations for collection development, outreach activities, and research are welcome. For commercial use of wing images, we are asking for a tax deductible donation of $50 (or what you can afford). Contributions specifically for the wing collection will be used to enhance the collection by adding images and for image database development. If higher resolution images are needed, we can supply them and provide quotes. For more information see contact information at right.
- Check payable to the Slater Museum (see address at right). Currently this is the only option.