Well, we're a few short months away, so I thought I'd give everyone a sneak peek of what to expect in Az in August/Sept. I'll write something a bit more in depth up as the time draws nearer, but this should give those that have never been here an idea of what it's like...All of this is just one man's opinion, and in no way reflects the views of NAFHA, its affiliates or this station.
1) The weather can be spotty and unpredictable. You may have torrential showers in one area and 5 miles away it's dry as a bone. As such, it's generally a good idea to chuck the carefully laid plans out the window and go where the weather tells you to go. In my experience, the only things you'll find during a rain storm are amphibians...You may find reptiles that have been flooded out of their hiding place, but reptiles are usually found preceding or after a rain. Again, that's a general rule...The second I post it someone will cruise a coral snake in the middle of a rain storm, so it's not a hard and fast rule by any means. Follow the weather. Listen to the weather.
2) We don't do much flipping here. There's almost no point to it. You'll see what I mean when you get out here. Sure you CAN flip if you like (ALWAYS returning rocks, logs, etc. EXACTLY as found), but generally speaking you're best served to cover as much ground as possible whether hiking, cruising, etc....I know this may be a departure from how herping is done in the South or Midwest, but here there are so many other places for animals to hide and hang out that flipping just winds up tiring you out and it generally is a pretty big waste of time.
3) The closed season species in Arizona are as follows: Gila monster, Banded rock rattlesnake, Arizona ridgenosed rattlesnake, New Mexico ridgenosed rattlesnake, Desert massasauga, Twinspotted rattlesnake, any Tiger salamander, any Leopard frog, Narrowheaded Garter snake, Mexican Garter snake, Milksnake (Cochise Co. only), Desert tortoise, any Box turtle and Flat tailed Horned lizard. Any animal located in a National Park or other area designated as a "closed season" area is also considered a "closed season" animal..
In order to manipulate, pose, etc. these closed season species, one must be in the presence of someone on the Scientific Collecting permit issued by Game and Fish. As yet we do not have the permit in hand, but expect to very shortly. Game and Fish will be out there....They know about the NAFHA meeting so we can expect a presence. It's important that everyone have the appropriate licenses (Hunting for reptiles except softshell turtles) and/or fishing (for amphibians and softshell turtles). Licenses can be had at any sporting goods store/Walmart/etc. If there's a question as to the legality of posing or manipulating a particular animal and you cannot locate someone that can tell you the legal status of said animal, best to leave it alone and get in situ photos if possible. Again, one ***MUST*** be in the presence of a Scientific Collecting permit holder in order to pose, manipulate, etc. any closed season species. As with all NAFHA activities, no collection (aside from collection for photos and re-release exactly where found afterwards) will be permitted.
4) If you see an animal and it gets away into a rock pile, tree snatch, etc. PLEASE do not attempt to dig it out...I know we're all well meaning individuals, but the impulse to "catch it!" can be strong. If you found it basking and it bolted, chances are good that if you keep herping you'll run across another one. If you leave it alone and come back, there's also a good chance the animal may have come back out from hiding. Again, please don't go digging up rock piles and such because an animal dove. It happens.
5) Shining artificial lights out of a vehicle is illegal. If you see an animal in the road and want to get a closer look with your flashlight, head lamp, etc., you ***MUST*** must legally pull over (ensuring that your ENTIRE vehicle is off the roadway), exit the vehicle and inspect the animal. This is as much for public safety as anything else.
6) Have FUN! Arizona is an amazing place with amazing diversity. Respect the environment and the animals in it and have a blast while doing so. Can't wait to see ya'll there!
PS- Should anyone have any questions about Arizona law as pertains to reptiles and amphibians, I'll be happy to answer any questions I can. I can't promise I'll know the answer, but I've lived here for 20 years and am well versed in what is legal and what isn't. If I don't know the answer, I can find it.
Should anyone have any questions about GENERAL animal habits or natural history, I'll be happy to answer those too. I will NOT be giving out sensitive locale info, "honey hole" info, etc. so please don't ask. We'll be smack dab in the middle of some awesome habitat, so you probably won't need much info on specific locales to find animals.
Anyone attending the NAFHA trip is welcome to PM me any questions they have.
Dedicated exclusively to field herping.
Moderator: Scott Waters
2 posts • Page 1 of 1
Thanks Kris! I think a few of us from the western part of RMC intend to make the trek down together, either in one vehicle or in caravan. Hope to see you there.