Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

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technoendo
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Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » December 14th, 2014, 3:30 pm

Hello! This is my first post here. Yesterday I failed in an attempt to learn more about any state or county laws might exist around field herping in WA/OR. I saw one of the "Herping With Dylan" videos on youtube where Dylan picked up and photographed a snake which met some IL legal definition of "collection" and he said he had to pay a fine. I would like to better understand the law around this and avoid getting in trouble. What is the place you guys go to learn about this stuff? Are you calling up county/state fish and wildlife departments to learn about it?

Up till now I've been avoiding private land, indian reservations, and mostly looking for snakes on public hiking trails. I have no interest in actually taking any animals out of their habitat -- this is purely just to have some fun/exercise, take some photos/video, handle and release some harmless snakes and lizards, and file some reports to naherp.com. My hope is to go out on more herping trips in 2015 and I would hate to be in violation of any laws due to my ignorance. I'm wondering if our laws up here are fairly relaxed? I can't seem to find folks talking about them even on this forum (or maybe I'm just bad at searching).

Can anyone help educate me on any northwest herping related laws or point me at some resources where I could learn more?

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technoendo
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » December 14th, 2014, 5:06 pm

Hrmph, well after posting and more digging I did find a gold mine of a post on this forum that answers this question for WA:

http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... f=8&t=1056

Pretty dismal. Looks like interacting with wild snakes is against the law in WA as it might fall under "harassment", a $12 scientific collections permit seems to be one way to try and go legit, but I worry my justifications for such an application might be too flimsy.

Zonata (cali mountain king) is the only protected snake in WA. I once found one as a kid on the Oregon side of the Columbia River outside the city of Hood River, and I expect this means I should give up on any dreams of ever looking for these guys in the wild again (unless I was allowed to join some Department of Fish and Wildlife folks who seem to have the authority). I can accept this though as I do understand how rare and special they are in their WA range.

For years I have hiked along trails while carrying a snake hook in case of large gopher snakes and upon reading this makes me think I probably could have gotten in trouble for carrying "tools of collection".

Do folks on this forum file for scientific collection permits?

I guess the short summary for WA is that its technically illegal to even handle a garter snake, especially protected species like Zonata, especially on federal land and state parks. Outside of this on places like private property with permission of the owner there may be some grey areas where the state is unlikely to enforce, but the WFWD has the authority over wildlife and seems they could if they had enough reason maybe. Is it best not to carry snake hooks on the trails in WA? and just stick to taking reptile photos from a distance? Is that pretty much what folks here do? I imagine photos showing you holding a garter/gopher could become evidence used against you in court (especially if it included gps coordinates)? I guess its just photos from a distance although that sounds difficult for identifications and quality of content.

Sigh. I've been in the pacific northwest for 3 decades oblivious to this law and have infrequently been in violation of it. This makes me sad that the law sees me as a poacher and I'm not used to having a restraining order from wild snakes. I'm not collecting anything but I do admit that it probably is harassment. At least I've learned a bit more about the law today and can stay out of trouble.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » December 14th, 2014, 10:00 pm

technoendo:
I am a graduate in Fisheries and Wildlife (OSU '55') and without any reservations, will state that whomever crafted the Washington Regulations (dealing with wildlife being off limits to the public) is (or are) grossly incompetent. Oregon's wildlife agency has it shortcomings as well but nowhere as reactionary as is the case with the state of Washington.

If you have a scientific collecting permit in Washington, handling wildlife (I assume) would not be considered as harassment and producing harm to the specimens or its population. But without such a permit, to handle the same wildlife would be considered as harassment and thus potentially producing harm.

To make the Washington Wildlife agency and Commission appear even more incompetent, the agency and commission condone and even promote the harvest (killing) of thousands of game and commercial species. How such individual can justify the above yet claim that handling wildlife is harassment is simply mind boggling.

It has been my experience that you can often accuse governmental agencies of being rational.

On a different note, that you mention once observing a Lampropetis zonata outside of Hood River is of special interest. To my knowledge, the species has never been officially documented on the Oregon side of the Columbia, only in southwestern Oregon. I am going to pass your observation on to Alan St. John of Bend, Oregon. Alan has published a field guide of reptiles of the Northwestern U.S. and thus even though anecdotal, your account will interest Alan.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

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technoendo
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » December 15th, 2014, 8:25 pm

Richard,

Thank you for the reply sir. Can you speak on the laws in Oregon? I live up in the Seattle area and was thinking of a summer herping trip in central OR and still haven't found details on their herp laws and am wondering if they are as restrictive as WA. I did notice that Zonata (california mountain kingsnake), common kingsnakes, sharp-tailed snakes, and western groundsnakes are protected in OR.

EDIT: The document below has a removal/relocating section that seems to forbid this without a permit recommending that you call your local ODFW office and hire somebody to handle it. Is that true?

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/liv ... Snakes.pdf

I'll give the scientific collection permit in WA some thought. I don't see any harm in trying to apply as if I get rejected it won't be a problem for me to follow the law. In truth I am just a computer nerd with a lifetime of enthusiasm for reptiles and I would only just be taking pics/videos talking up some of the gems in our back yards on a tiny blog and youtube channel few will see. Education and public awareness related efforts would be the justifications I could support when applying for that science collections permit. I infrequently take co-workers and their children out on herping trips usually catching some garter snakes and running my mouth at length about reptiles for my city friends.

on Zonata in Hood River... I want to say the year was 1985 and I was somewhere under 10 years of age when I lived in a little farm house right on the Columbia River. My uncle had gifted me with those illustrated Audubon identification guides and the Reptiles of North America book was my most prized book and started my love of reptiles. I was aware of coral snakes and their mimics as well... they are the brightest snakes in the book, and coral snakes being elapids were in their own awesome section. One warm spring/summer day I was wandering along the railroad tracks alongside the Columbia River and came to an old rotting wooden structure not far from where I lived. The structure's door was about falling off its rusted hinges, the sole glass window was cracked or shattered with brambles outside growing into the shed though its mostly shadow with very little light coming in through cracks between boards and the shattered window. The floor was covered with seasons of grass and dried leafs that had grown on plants inside that had died and returned season after season. When I opened the door I saw a vibrant red/black/yellow banded snake exposed for about 20 seconds before it scuttled under the leaf litter and rotting wooden boards. Unfortunately I couldn't remember the red-touches-yellow limerick, did not understand that coral snakes do not live wild in Oregon, and assumed it was a hot reptile and bolted out of there. I was oblivious to Zonata in WA for a long time (they are *california* mountain kingsnakes after all) and just assumed my memory was more of a hallucination as it couldn't be explained, until 20 years later I learned of Zonata's tiny range and realized what a million-in-one chance encounter I had. I have no idea if there was any sizable Zonata population there as I only saw one snake -- although they are pretty secretive and I can't say I was really flipping rocks/logs at the time (just opening doors in run down places). There was more western fence lizards in this area than pretty much any other place in OR/WA that I've found and it makes me wonder if a Mountain King could hold on there (sister and I could collect dozens of "bluebellies" in a few hours). I did see gopher snakes too and am told there were lots of rattlesnakes but I never found any despite lots of looking. Tall mountains with jagged hills on one side going down to the river with lush orchards and patchy pine forests, the dryness from the gorge winds contrast against the wetter/greener areas when you go a few miles inland in Hood River away from the Columbia. I speculate that an individual could have been washed down the hills on the Washington side (maybe from the White Salmon River) into the Columbia, managed to cross the river, and climbed away from the river into the rotting structure. So yeah I was a child, it was years ago, and this is not a proper report but if Zonata wasn't protected in OR if I went back there are a few places in particular I would hike.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » December 16th, 2014, 9:40 am

In my recent post, it should have been, "It has been my experience that you CANNOT often accuse governmental agencies of being rational."

Richard F. Hoyer

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » December 16th, 2014, 9:43 am

technoendo:
Oregon is nowhere as restrictive as either Washington or Calif. There is absolutely no valid biological basis that would support the current regulations in Washington dealing with non-game species of wildlife. Hence my comment about 'incompetence".

It has been some time since I reviewed the regulations dealing with collecting non-game species in Oregon. So I do not know if the regulations in
Oregon have been revised. But at that time, resident and non-residents could collect any non-game species of herp. without a license with no closed season, or not bag or possession limits. Species listed in some category of concern (Endangered, Threatened, Sensitive) are off limits. There also is the stipulation that such collected non-game wildlife cannot be sold or bartered.

I believe that there is a separate regulation that indicate any retained specimens are to be maintained in a humane manner. I suggest you contact the Wildlife Diversity section of ODFW with respect to such regulations.

And thanks for elaborating on your observation of the Calif. Mt. Kingsnake near Hood River.

Richard F. Hoyer

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technoendo
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » December 16th, 2014, 6:31 pm

Thanks again Richard!

I'm glad to hear things are more relaxed in Oregon, but also bummed to hear California has poor reptile laws (in the original WA laws thread TravisK said in 2010 "I don't think I will ever say anything like this again, but I wish we were a little more like California." which I interpreted as a positive sign for their laws, but it seems I misunderstood). I also read too far into that LivingWithSnakes pdf on things that were probably more about public safety than the handling of reptiles being illegal.

I'll likely call WFDW/ORDW to doubly confirm the laws and protected species lists before I go out in the spring. If I learn anything new I'll bring it back here. Maybe we could summarize this up and get a post stickied here to make it a little easier for other Northwesters to be aware of the law.

You guys probably saved me from getting a ticket and some embarassment for not knowing the law in WA. I appreciate being given a clue, thank you.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by TravisK » December 18th, 2014, 3:51 pm

technoendo wrote:(in the original WA laws thread TravisK said in 2010 "I don't think I will ever say anything like this again, but I wish we were a little more like California." which I interpreted as a positive sign for their laws, but it seems I misunderstood).
No, you didn't misunderstand. Even CA has less restrictive herp related laws than WA. In CA I can legally go 'Herping' and 'interact' with the herps. In WA I can not. I will never have access to a collection permit either since I am not a professor or current student under such a Prof. with a collection permit.
technoendo wrote:Maybe we could summarize this up and get a post stickied here to make it a little easier for other Northwesters to be aware of the law.

You guys probably saved me from getting a ticket and some embarassment for not knowing the law in WA. I appreciate being given a clue, thank you.
That is actually something I have been thinking about. That would be a really good resource to have posted. If you find out any information re: OR law or someone I can email to get solid details from for that specific purpose, that would be Awesome.


Also.... Welcome to the Forum! :beer: I hope we can meet up in the field some time next year.

Cheers,
TK

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » December 18th, 2014, 7:22 pm

Hi TravisK! Thank you for the clarification on CA. That is good to hear!

I found the updated SCP forms and documentation for WA a few days ago:

http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/scp/

On reading your comment of never having access to a permit as you are not a professor or current student I went to verify and you are correct. TravisK you have sunk my battleship! (Seriously though thanks for the clue). I missed this in my readings about scp and may have been wasting my time pursuing it.

"State scientific collection permits are issued to scientists/researchers, educators/educational institutions, and museums, aquariums/zoos. They are NOT issued to the general public for collection/take of fish and/or wildlife."

This was a critical detail I had missed until today. I had been writing up my own justification for an SCP and was planning to submit it, but now I figure if I submitted I would just lose the non-refundable $105 once they read my qualifications and laughed at them. This is unfortunate as I was hoping to justify digital reporting to naherp.com -- that I provide some reporting data that the state could benefit from if they requested the data, I'd be doing something that would be easy to audit for a year end report, and all I request is briefly handling for the sake of identification with a generally low impact plan (catch/photo/release reptile where it was found, no messing with protected species).

It does make me wonder how scienstists/researchers and educators are defined as... like... those are words that could describe a field herpetologist that was willing to do some extra work. Are they really going to require you have a specific job or work for a particular organization to get an SCP?
That is actually something I have been thinking about. That would be a really good resource to have posted. If you find out any information re: OR law or someone I can email to get solid details from for that specific purpose, that would be Awesome.
It may take me a while but I'll see what I can find. It does seem like it would be valuable to fellow members even if its bad news.
Also.... Welcome to the Forum! :beer: I hope we can meet up in the field some time next year.
Cheers! :beer: Yes that would be fun! I haven't gone herping with other herpers before and am certain I could learn a lot from you guys.

Our poor laws doesn't kill my love for field herping and I'll still make a few trips this year even though I'm disgusted. I'd still like to find Thamnophis sirtalis pickeringii/concinnus/fitchi, a ringneck snake, and a striped whipsnake. I'm always a fan of gophers, rubber boas, and yellow bellied racers. I also have a modest goal of trying to get better at telling apart the many garter snakes we have in WA (seems there are a few that can look similar in color/pattern... do you count labial scales? I'm sure you guys have good tricks for this!).

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technoendo
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » December 18th, 2014, 8:46 pm

I just sent the email below to the WDFW SCP Licensing staff to just probe a little further on the "SCP not issued to the general public" bit. I figure it doesn't hurt to ask. ;)
I have a question about something I read on your SCP site here:

http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/scp/

"State scientific collection permits are issued to scientists/researchers, educators/educational institutions, and museums, aquariums/zoos. They are NOT issued to the general public for collection/take of fish and/or wildlife."

I'm interpreting this to mean that SCP are restricted only to certain professions and organizations. As a member of the public if I submitted a good project plan would I lose the $105 non-refundable application fee and be rejected based on my qualifications? Is that a likely outcome? Are SCP project justifications judged on their merits or is one's profession or employer a hard requirement?

By trade I work as a Network and Systems Engineer in the Computing/IT sector (software development company), consider myself to be scientifically minded, however as an "engineer of computers" its unclear if I meet the requirement of being a scientist/researcher/educator as those words are not in my job title. Some of the projects I have in mind would involve the capture/photo/release (for identification purposes) of common native reptiles. The objectives in mind could involve reporting reptiles to other research organizations (online reptile databases like naherp.com, herpmapper.org, or even wdfw's general wildlife observation reports). Does being a computer engineer by title or having project goals that align with research/education make me a scientist/researcher/educator or am I still joe public?
Digital reporting of herps seems like a good scientific/research justification for us as this is cooperating with a research organization for the general good and even WFDW could benefit if they submitted requests for data. I think I saw that they tend to like set end objectives and dates in the research projects and not ongoing things so that might be a problem, but this would be a moderately sane path through this mire for me if it works. I don't think naherp and WFDW lose on this deal.

I also wonder if I could hit the education justification by doing things like blog posting online about our native reptiles or making species web pages for a list of snakes (a set "curriculum"), in either case I'd be including media like photos+video captured in the field shared with the public for the fun of it.

Have folks filed for SCP and failed? Was the WFDW clear on why you were rejected? Wonder if I should just press on with getting an SCP and see what happens.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by ADCIII » December 18th, 2014, 8:51 pm

Just curious, with those regulations, what do they say about DORs? Thanks, Art

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technoendo
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » December 18th, 2014, 9:13 pm

ADCIII wrote:Just curious, with those regulations, what do they say about DORs? Thanks, Art
Hi Art! It doesn't look good sir if you are asking about Washington.

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=232-12-287
(1) Except as authorized by permit of the director or by subsection (2) of this section, it is unlawful to possess wildlife found dead. This rule does not prohibit the possession of naturally shed antlers of deer, elk, or moose.

(2) An individual may remove and dispose of wildlife found dead on his or her property or an adjoining public roadway. Before removing the wildlife, the individual shall, by telephone, notify the department or the Washington state patrol communications office, and shall provide his or her name, address, telephone number, and the description and location of the wildlife. The individual may remove the wildlife for disposal only, and may not retain the wildlife for personal use or consumption. Other laws and rules may apply to the disposal, including rules of the department of health (WAC 246-203-120). Wildlife removed under this section remain the property of the state.
http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/scp/
Under WAC 232-12-287, it is unlawful to possess wildlife found dead (unless with an appropriate hunting/fishing licenses and following the rules and regulations). One CAN collect/take naturally shed antlers of deer, elk, or moose.
http://wdfw.wa.gov/help/questions/257/W ... keep+it%3F++
Who do I call to have a dead animal removed from my property? Can I keep it?

In most instances, it is the property owner's responsibility to arrange for the animal to be removed and disposed of. The individual may remove the wildlife for disposal only, and may not retain the wildlife, or any part, for personal use or consumption. Other laws and rules may apply to the disposal, including rules of the Department of Health (WAC 246-203-120). Wildlife removed under this section remain the property of the state.
http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/scp/scp_ap ... ctions.pdf
2. Activities such as capturing, banding, marking, attaching radio telemetry equipment, and the salvage of dead fish, shellfish, or wildlife are all considered methods of collection and require a SCP. Any tissue sampling of fish, shellfish, or wildlife requires a SCP, whether lethal or non-lethal and whether the specimen is retained or released.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer (although providing disclaimers is probably something a lawyer would do), and be skeptical of the greenhorn who just came in here a few days ago with no clue on how bad the law is up here!

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by TravisK » December 19th, 2014, 11:50 am

The only thing you can do in WA is see and photograph without molesting the native wildlife. WA has some of the most restrictive non-game wildlife laws in the country. In fact, I am not aware of any other state that is at par or more restrictive than WA. I remember seeing billboards in Spokane WA with a person holding a turtle with the caption reading something like, "Discover Washington's Forest", which is illegal plain and simple. It's illegal for me to road cruise a Crote and POSE it for a picture with a snake hook but legal for me to kill the snake cause I happen to feel threatened by it.

I actually had a ranger tell me that you can't pick reptiles and amphibians up but you can kill them with no repercussions. He knew the irony in statement and how foolish it sounded. I don't see the law changing ever either. :(

Now.... Try not to get too depressed about it. You can still have a lot of fun on public lands and learn a lot about our wildlife and practice Feildherpery (I just coined that phrase ;) ) within legal bounds.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » January 1st, 2015, 3:30 pm

The WFDW SCP Permits response:
Thank you for your question regarding the Scientific Collection Permit (SCP). We do not typically issue SCPs to individual members of the public, one reason being qualifications for safely handling the wildlife. We have issued SCPs to local organizations conducting identification, local abundance, or presence/absence research in their local area. These are lay people, not scientist by profession, but with much experience in their species of interest.

That being said, if you are only photographing them for identification, which includes picking up and briefly handling then immediate release, you do not need a SCP at all.

We would very much appreciate any data you collect. Our herp person is (name omitted) and if and when you get to the point of reporting your observations, please contact her and she could let you know how she would like the data reported.

Thank you for your interest in collecting reptile data.
I immediately went back to re-read WAC 220-20-045 on the "handling for identification purposes" topic:

http://app.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=220-20-045
(a) "Collect" means to take control or to attempt to take control of fish, shellfish, wildlife, or the nests of birds. Collect does not include transitory holding of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates solely for identification purposes.
I think the regulars here that have posted in the 2010 thread about the laws already get it: the SCP can protect you better in any grey areas. Without it you can handle non-protected reptiles so long as you are mindful to move quickly on the capture/photo/release (though any WFDW staffers could enforce violations outside this "purpose of identification" narrow case so doing anything with wild reptiles seems like it could be risky if you aren't super diligent). There is no news here. I am just slow in understanding the ramifications of this law.

When I go looking to capture/photo/release some wild puget sound garter snakes in the spring I'll just pretend a WFDW staffer is watching from the bushes and be fairly quick and deliberate on snapping some pictures and releasing the snake. Its not all the time that I need to handle reptiles, but for garters I think getting decent photos of the head (labial scales around mouth, maybe overhead shape of skull), back patterns and colors, and belly colors will help with better ids and better reports.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by TravisK » January 16th, 2015, 3:49 pm

Tech,

IMO your interpretation of the law is not accurate. Picking up a snake even for a brief moment is illegal in WA from my understanding of the law. If you think otherwise, please point to verbiage from the State stating otherwise. There will be a Rules/Regs thread by State in the coming months. Stay tuned.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » January 24th, 2015, 5:38 pm

TravisK wrote:Tech,
IMO your interpretation of the law is not accurate. Picking up a snake even for a brief moment is illegal in WA from my understanding of the law. If you think otherwise, please point to verbiage from the State stating otherwise.
I don't mind being proven wrong (please correct me!), and am just stumbling around through this trying to verify and confirm myself through what I hope are authoritative channels like the WDFW SCP department. So you are already well aware of WAC 220-20-045 and its collection exception ("Collect does not include transitory holding of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates solely for identification purposes"). In the old law forum thread from 2010 it seemed like you and Scott Ray concluded that this may be part of the protection offered by an SCP (that if you have this permit, handle a sirtalis when you had a permit charter for pickerengii, you would not get in trouble). Is that about right? Was there more to it than that? Anyway, I went to the SCP folks with the email quoted earlier in the thread, got the response quoted a few posts later. It was clear to them that I was a member of the public, and the recommendation was that an SCP was not necessary due to the identification exception. Is there something anyone can point to that legally counters the identification exception?

I recognize that you are the northwest chapter president, that I'm mostly seeing responses from multiple experienced local field herpers to the effect of "handling of snakes in WA == illegal", and that I'm the greenhorn so I'm still uneasy (maybe this was just one person at the SCP that wasn't super familiar with this topic?). So today I found a herp specialist at DFW that manages their reptile reports and have sent an email asking for clarification on the handling/collection identification exception and a bunch of other topics. I'll report back with any findings.
TravisK wrote: There will be a Rules/Regs thread by State in the coming months. Stay tuned.
Fantastic! I am pumped.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by TravisK » February 2nd, 2015, 4:13 pm

Hmm, well there might be a little legal wiggle room IF you have a valid collection permit. The problem is getting that permit without being directly associated with a university. I highly doubt that SCPs would even be issued to K-12 teachers not actually collecting specimens but just for data collection for the purpose of teaching science and biology in the field.

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Joseph S.
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by Joseph S. » April 3rd, 2015, 10:29 pm

I was able to get a scp for the ymca camp I worked at in washington. They did question the amounts for a few things...apparently 500 squid raised eyebrows but overall a smooth process. I think it costs a few hundred bucks however

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TravisK
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by TravisK » April 6th, 2015, 12:02 pm

Nice Joseph,


That is good to know. Not that it helps for 'normal' herping, but I am glad they approved one for the Y.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by Hadar » January 13th, 2016, 11:27 am

technoendo wrote:Up till now I've been avoiding private land, indian reservations, and mostly looking for snakes on public hiking trails. I have no interest in actually taking any animals out of their habitat -- this is purely just to have some fun/exercise, take some photos/video, handle and release some harmless snakes and lizards, and file some reports to naherp.com. My hope is to go out on more herping trips in 2015 and I would hate to be in violation of any laws due to my ignorance. I'm wondering if our laws up here are fairly relaxed? I can't seem to find folks talking about them even on this forum (or maybe I'm just bad at searching).

Can anyone help educate me on any northwest herping related laws or point me at some resources where I could learn more?
Here are the rules and regulations for Oregon, http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... =8&t=22860. Hope that helps. If you ever have questions feel free to ask.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by AndyO'Connor » January 13th, 2016, 5:05 pm

The zonata in Oregon is interesting. Are you sure it wasn't a freshly shed (ie vibrant) valley or Oregon Spotted garter snake (I'm not sure without checking range maps which would be in Hood River, I think they'd be valley garters. The reason I bring this possibility is a few points.
First, MANY very skilled and experienced field herpers have looked/herped on the Oregon side for many years, and not a single Z has been reported. Also, the reason they are able to survive on the Washington side still is it is south facing and the bare rock slides collect warmth and hold onto it compared to the north facing, cool, dark slopes on the immediate neighboring shore. Finally, Having spent quite a few hours herping on the Washington side looking for Zs, I've been fooled more than once by a valley garter snake sitting in habitat, racing away as I flip cover, or slipping away out of the corner of my eye, and for a second I think "Zonata!, oh dang it"... I bet if I had a childhood memory as you described, and wasn't sure what it was at that time, that reflecting on it now, I might imagine it to be more zonata like than it was back then.

Sorry if I seem skeptical, maybe it was a 1 in a 1,000,000 zonata that swam across the Columbia and was alone and you saw it.

As far as the laws, everything people have posted here is true, but realistically, I don't know of anyone that has actually been cited a ticket/fine in Washington for herping specifically. I've been told that I wasn't allowed to have my hook in a state park, and I received a tresspassing on closed WDFW land ticket while herping once (later it was dismissed). I've been pulled over for driving too slow and suddenly stopping in the middle of a dark lonely highway on a couple of occasions and told I was crazy by the state patrol, but they don't care/know the laws well enough to cite me.

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TravisK
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by TravisK » January 18th, 2016, 11:45 am

AndyO'Connor wrote:As far as the laws, everything people have posted here is true, but realistically, I don't know of anyone that has actually been cited a ticket/fine in Washington for herping specifically. I've been told that I wasn't allowed to have my hook in a state park, and I received a tresspassing on closed WDFW land ticket while herping once (later it was dismissed). I've been pulled over for driving too slow and suddenly stopping in the middle of a dark lonely highway on a couple of occasions and told I was crazy by the state patrol, but they don't care/know the laws well enough to cite me.
Not gonna lie... I had a very close call at Hanford National Monument. Not going to go into too much detail on the forum but the law was innocently yet intentionally broken and it wasn't a very fun evening. Next time we meet up I will let you know all the details over a beer or something. ;-) Point is, you don't want to be in that position and I am extra diligent now about how I maintain myself in the field.

I'll just put this one last thought out there. The 'best' photo isn't worth violating the law. No matter how valid or invalid one perceives that law to be.

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technoendo
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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by technoendo » February 22nd, 2016, 8:58 pm

AndyO'Connor wrote:The zonata in Oregon is interesting. Are you sure it wasn't a freshly shed (ie vibrant) valley or Oregon Spotted garter snake (I'm not sure without checking range maps which would be in Hood River, I think they'd be valley garters. The reason I bring this possibility is a few points.
First, MANY very skilled and experienced field herpers have looked/herped on the Oregon side for many years, and not a single Z has been reported. Also, the reason they are able to survive on the Washington side still is it is south facing and the bare rock slides collect warmth and hold onto it compared to the north facing, cool, dark slopes on the immediate neighboring shore. Finally, Having spent quite a few hours herping on the Washington side looking for Zs, I've been fooled more than once by a valley garter snake sitting in habitat, racing away as I flip cover, or slipping away out of the corner of my eye, and for a second I think "Zonata!, oh dang it"... I bet if I had a childhood memory as you described, and wasn't sure what it was at that time, that reflecting on it now, I might imagine it to be more zonata like than it was back then.

Sorry if I seem skeptical, maybe it was a 1 in a 1,000,000 zonata that swam across the Columbia and was alone and you saw it.
Hey Andy,
I'm certain it was a Zonata. I went back last April to the same site and the homeowner mentioned running over the same tri-banded snake in a lawnmower in 2012. I had Alan St.John and some herping friends of his from ODFW and other places that came along. I spent a day herping that site (private land) and the property of a neighbor (old family friend, her orchardist of 30 years was shown a picture of zonata and said he had seen one 20 years before). Then I came back in July for 4 days of road cruising all over Mosier/Dalles/Hood River (it was hot enough I wanted to try nighttime), hiking around memaloose, and the mosier/hood river trail. I have no hard evidence until I have a photo voucher, as you said the habitat isn't as ideal as the Washington slope, and its always good to be skeptical especially around childhood stories. I am a little skeptical of the lawnmower story from the homeowner as I didn't grill her about valley garters or show her photographs, but she could also be right.

Yes I get that valley garters can have nice bright colors but I promise you that I'm attentive to the difference between stripes and banding even at my young age. I had caught many garter snakes by then, a few gopher snakes and rubber boas, but this was distinctly different. This one snake set my brain on fire for years. My young brain did get one thing wrong though -- the order of the color bands, I was convinced it was a coral snake even when I couldn't find them ranging into Oregon at all in my reptile identification books.

I'm not going to publicly disclose the site mentioned in Hood River for obvious reasons, but I will share that it was close to the railroad tracks that run along I-84. It was not on the northern facing hillside of the gorge, but in a dryer/flatter area that gets more sun exposure (still some trees and rocky structures so not perfectly flat). One of the ODFW workers had done zonata research on the WA side and he said the habitat looked like a zonata site. Fir tree forests giving way to small groves of oak trees mixed in with loose rock piles, more dry than wet, and plenty of lizards about.

Seems unlikely I'll ever find one, but I do enjoy visiting the columbia gorge and like to try looking as I can. They might be gone.

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Re: Any Laws in WA/OR around Field Herping?

Post by AndyO'Connor » February 27th, 2016, 9:54 am

Thanks for the detailed response. I hope my skepticism is not sounding disrespectful, as I'd hope they are there and believe that anything is possible, although unlikely. I believe that there is more likely a chance of an occasional male zonata getting washed into the Columbia from the White Salmon or Klickitat rivers and making their way across the Columbia without getting eaten or hit by a boat to the Oregon side, and then being fairly conspicuous as they wander around, or take refuge under "familiar" microhabitats such as railroad ties and rocks. The infrequency of this happening would certainly explain the infrequency of sightings and reports. I've not heard from any herper or local that they see multiple zonata on the Oregon side of the river. I'd be happy to join you on a search some time, it's not like there aren't other reptiles to be encountered while we search for a triad unicorn.

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