Permits, IACUC, and Documentation

HBS has facilitated field biology research for over 90 years, providing high-quality research, meeting, and residential facilities, field and lab equipment, data sets, and access to a diversity of field sites.  All researchers are expected to follow their home institution’s research protocols as well as HBS. If you are unsure what permits or documentation you’ll need for your research, please contact Dr. Jim Costa We recommend you file all paperwork several months prior to your visit.


Researchers are expected to secure the appropriate Federal or State permits if they seek to conduct research in the nearby National Forests or National Parks.  A permit from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission may be required as well.  Copies of all required permits must be provided to HBS prior to commencing research at HBS.


Please note that HBS IACUC procedures have changed, aligning the HBS protocol review process with that of our parent institution Western Carolina University. Please read through the following instructions for IACUC approval for research involving vertebrates at Highlands Biological Station.

In accordance with Federal law, researchers planning on conducting any work involving vertebrates at HBS must have an IACUC application approved by the WCU/HBS Animal Use & Care Committee prior to undertaking their research. Please refer to the appropriate section below for guidance on submitting applications for (I) new research project protocols, and (II) requests for modification of approved protocols or (III) reporting of adverse events. Purely observational research generally does not require an HBS IACUC submission, but HBS may, at its discretion, require an IACUC protocol submission. Plans for such research must be reported to the HBS Executive and Associate Directors for evaluation.

IACUC applications may be submitted at any time, but PIs should allow at least one month lead time prior to anticipated research start date. Protocol application receipt will be confirmed by email to the PI. Applications will be reviewed as expeditiously as possible, and the committee shall make one of the following four determinations: (a) Approved as Submitted; (b) Approved with Conditions; (c) Deferred; and (d) Disapproved. The Research Compliance Office will convey the committee decision and any additional information and further instructions to the researcher via email, typically within 10 days of the meeting.

Projects are approved for a period of 3 years, after which a new protocol must be submitted for review. However, at the discretion of the WCU/HBS IACUC, a project may require annual review within that 3-year period. At the time of initial submission approval, the investigator receives a letter documenting the approval and expiration dates. For studies requiring annual review, PIs must submit a renewal request each year during the 3-year period; click here to download the HBS IACUC Renewal Request Form.


    Data Management Policy

    Researchers basing their work wholly or in part at HBS are expected to adhere to the HBS Data Management Policy for Researchers.

    Acknowledgement & Research Products

    Researchers making use of HBS facilities are asked to kindly acknowledge their HBS research support explicitly in the “acknowledgements” or financial support section of all publications stemming from their work at the Station, including theses/dissertations and scientific papers. Researchers are further requested to please promptly provide PDFs of all such publications, and consider sending a print copy of your thesis or dissertation to be added to the E. E. Reinke Library.  More than standard academic etiquette, such acknowledgement is vitally important for institutions like HBS, helping us both gauge the impact of our research support and document scientific productivity stemming from HBS support for university reporting, grant proposals, and more.