Using geoJSON for occurrence searches - troubleshooting issues

Hi all,

My job involves verifying species lists for wildlife refuges and providing evidence for their occurrence on a refuge. I want to use geoJSON files to search for species occurrences within a specific polygon, and then download that data as evidence for occurrence on the refuge. I am running into several issues and seeking advice:

First, the geoJSON file being too large. The ‘simplify’ button only goes so far when the file has several coordinates and decimal places. I also run into the issue of the URL being greater than 2,000 characters. It gives me the following error message:

“The URL of your query exceeds 2,000 characters and may not work properly in all browsers. For large and/or complicated queries, please consider using the download API.”

This option, despite the error message, is still capable of yielding search results. However, it does not allow for downloading data, assuming due to the file size and/or URL length.

Now, I have next to no experience using API’s, but I’ve been watching a bunch of tutorials to bridge this gap to try to use the occurrence/map APIs. In the meantime, I thought simplifying the geoJSON in Mapshaper would do the trick. However for some reason, when I simplify the file in Mapshaper, it processes the polygon and displays it in the search bar, but the search yields no data and instead displays the following error message:


Your filters might be invalid or the servers having issues. Please try again and report the issue if it continues"

I’m not sure why the simplified version of the geoJSON would not yield any results, but the much larger file does. So there goes the ‘easy’ way, or so I thought…

I’d appreciate any feedback from those who have utilized the geoJSON feature for their work! If you’re reading this and thinking ‘dang, this would be so much easier in the API…’ I’m also open to feedback with perhaps a bit more information on how you’ve used it.

Thanks y’all, happy Friday. :slight_smile:

Hi @jessikamcfarland,
We can’t really know why you got the error message without the query. Could you send your polygons to
Overall it seems like the best would be to use the download API. I suggest to write to to ask for some support, we are happy to help!

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