MDC to require permits for commercial photography on conservation areas

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Photographers will soon need a permit for commercial or for-profit photography/videography on Missouri conservation areas. The change to the Wildlife Code of Missouri is effective July 1, 2021.

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval to the Conservation Department to make the change.

What does this change mean? The professional photographer that you hire to take your photos at any conservation area in Missouri will have to pay a $100 yearly permit fee. Professional videographers will need a Commercial Videography Permit for all commercial videography on department areas with an associated fee of $500 per day.

Historically, the MDC  has restricted professional or for-profit photography and filming on conservation areas. According to the MDC, the new regulations come amidst requests from photographers and videographers to allow commercial photography and videography on conservation areas.

Commercial Use

The MDC defines commercial use as any activity that directly or indirectly results in financial gain, or where money is exchanged in connection with the activity. News agencies, hobby photographers and videographers, or those taking personal pictures or videos will not need permits.

Photography and filming on MDC areas for non-commercial use have been and remain allowed on MDC areas without the need for a commercial-use permit.


Professional photographers and videographers can apply for MDC’s commercial-use permit at https://mdc.mo.gov/permits/commercial-confined-wildlife-permits.

The MDC will require a Commercial Photography Permit for commercial photographers on department areas with an associated fee of $100 annually (expires June 30 each year). They will also require a Commercial Videography Permit for all commercial videography on MDC areas with an associated fee of $500 per day.

Commercial photographers will also need to apply for a no-cost Special Use Permit in certain situations (allow 30 days for processing):

  • Special accommodations requested (activities normally not allowed on conservation areas, such as after-hour access, vehicles on non-public roads, etc.);
  • Use of unmanned aerial system (UAS) or drone;
  • Use of props (larger than average person could carry);
  • When more than ten people are involved;
  • On MDC areas associated with nature and education centers, staffed ranges, offices, and on the following department areas:
    • Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area
    • August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area
    • James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area
    • Rockwoods Reservation

For more information on commercial photography and videography permits, visit https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/activities/photography.

More details

Other county, state, and federal land management agencies allow commercial photography and filming on their areas through the use of commercial permits with associated fees. MDC staff reviewed other agencies within and outside the state to determine a price structure.

The Missouri Conservation Commission initially approved the regulations in September 2020. Following initial Commission approval, the proposed regulations were submitted by MDC to the Office of the Secretary of State for a 30-day public comment period in October 2020. Following a review of comments received, the Commission gave final approval to the proposed regulations in December 2020. The regulations go into effect July 1.

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