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.

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 drive entrance. Leave message or text for Gary Shugart (206 949-9381 or ( In Tacoma, drop off freezer is in the hall outside of Thompson 295 if no one is in the museum, however buildings are closed as of 15 March 2020. An outside dropoff freezer is located at the NE corner of Thompson Hall 1/2 way down the steps. Otherwise text or email to make dropoff arrangements). A rarity or specimens of special significance can be shipped overnight - call 206 949-9381) to make arrangements.

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 January 6 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 gets 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.

Note: As of 2010, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the source of federal regulations, allows specimen salvage with the intent of donating specimens to a permitted institution.

Monetary donations

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.

Payment Options

Check payable to the Museum. Currently, this is the only option.


What Do I Do With a Bald Eagle?

Unfortunately, Federal and State permits prohibit museums from accepting dead eagles. If you are so inclined you can send one to the USFWS eagle repository for distribution of parts. A prepaid Fed Ex overnight label for the shipment will be sent to you. Instructions and a fact sheet can be found in the highlighted link.