Meteorite Hunting Laws & Guidelines

Meteorite hunting can be a very satisfying endeavor that may take you to the farthest reaches of the Earth. Though a collector of meteorites may never become a hunter of meteorites, both the hunter and collector should be aware of the laws governing the collection and collecting of meteorites. We are not lawyers and can, at best, only offer our perspectives and personal guidelines on these complex issues. However, we can state with confidence that the large majority of meteorites available to collectors are legal to own and were found and acquired in accordance to the laws of their country of origin.

In the United States, meteorites belong to the person, business or government agency upon whose land they fall or are found. Meteorites found on federal lands, such as land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), may belong to the federal government. There are many online resources available, including the BLM (check out their FAQs on Meteorites on Public Lands), to learn more about hunting on federal lands. We shall leave it to the reader to research this topic further, because coming as no surprise, dealing with any government agency is difficult. Fortunately, if you find a meteorite on your land, buy a meteorite from someone who found it on their land, search for and retrieve meteorites with permission of the landowner, or receive it from a person or institution that has a legal right to it, then the meteorite is legally yours.

Laws in countries outside the United States governing the hunting, export and ownership of meteorites are often based on antiquated laws with seemingly arbitrary enforcement and can seem overly harsh. However, laws are laws and these laws should be respected. Some well known meteorite hunters have been prosecuted and jailed under terrible conditions due their blatant or inadvertent disregard of the laws of the country where they were found hunting.

If you have questions, then ask your source or dealer for clarifying information. Dealers with nothing to hide will gladly give you the required information.

This post is based, in part, on content licensed from E. Wichman from the defunct website that was purchased by SkyFall Meteorites. 

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