Fossils & The Law

The fossilized remains of plants and animals, or traces of their activities, are protected under the Government of Alberta's Historical Resources Act which has one of the strictest fossil protection laws in the world. Violation of the Act is punishable by fines of up to $50,000 and/or one year in prison.

Identify a Fossil

If you find a fossil, and would like it identified, please complete the following form:

Identify a Fossil Form

If you are a professional palaeontological consultant and inquiring about an ongoing project or locality please complete the following form:

Locality Information


Learn More About Fossils


There are two methods of collecting fossils:

SURFACE COLLECTING (collecting isolated fossils that are clearly on the surface of the ground) is only permitted on private land with the landowner's permission and on provincial Crown land.

EXCAVATING (digging) refers to dislodging in any manner, fossils imbedded/buried in the ground or rock face. Excavating requires a permit, which is available only to professional palaeontologists.

Fossils in Protected Areas

Fossils may not be collected in any provincial/national park or protected area. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is located in Midland Provincial park-598 hectares of grassland in the Red Deer River valley. Collecting in this area is not permitted.


If you find a fossil, note its location as that is as important as the fossil itself.

  1. Photograph it and note any visible features.
  2. Located it on a map, using permanent landmarks (or GPS if available).
  3. Leave it buried. However, if a piece of the fossil has been dislodged and is laying on the surface of the ground, bring it to the Museum.
  4. Contact the Museum to report the find, make arrangements to provide the map, specimen and/or photograph.
  5. Images of fossils may also be sent here for identification. 


If you live in Alberta, and legally surface collected, you may keep the material as a custodian of the fossil, although ownership remains with the Province of Alberta.

The Historical Resources Act prohibits removal of fossils from the province without a Disposition Certificate issued by the Government of Alberta.

For more information on the Historical Resources Act, contact the Royal Tyrrell Museum's Resource Management Program.

To purchase a copy of the Historical Resources Act, contact:

Publication Services
Main Floor, Park Plaza
10611 - 98 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2P7

To view the Historical Resources Act online visit The Queen's Printer - Province of Alberta.


Fossils collected in Alberta cannot be sold without obtaining permission from the Government of Alberta through the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Fossils sold in Alberta shops are often collected in the United States, Europe, and Africa where laws regarding fossils are different.

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©2010 Government of Alberta and ©2010 Royal Tyrrell Museum | Last Review/Update - April 09, 2015