Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

Moderator: Scott Waters

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 28th, 2014, 8:02 am

Received this last night from a TX Game Warden with whom I've corresponded via FaceBook and telephone. He works in West Texas and is a herper himself.
Hey Chris, I hope all is going well. I was just on Fieldherpforum.com and seen some of your posts while looking to see what was the word in in the herping community. I appreciate you spreading the word about the law on there. It has been a mixed bag summer as ar as what I have encountered while checking herpers this summer. Started out checking lots of road cruisers as usual. Writing some warnings and citations when needed. Lots of verbal warnings. Most everyone giving the "im just taking pictures" statement that I've become familiar with. All had licenses though until we encountered a group that several did not have licenses. Then this weekend actually checked 3 people that were walking cuts and completely legal. Well found one that was clearly hunting snakes but lied his ass off telling us other stories. Anyway, its been fun and challenging working "snake hunters" this summer so far. It is a far different animal from checking hunters or fisherman. Have you heard anything regarding Game Warden encounters lately?

Key points:

1. Whether you agree with herping-specific laws or not, FOLLOW THEM. If laws are introduced leaving you scratching your head as to why they came about, work to get those laws updated/changed to provide beneficial outcomes for both herpers (so we can enjoy what we love) and LE (so they don't have to figure out if someone genuinely is "just taking pictures"--and many of us do--or is up to no good). People that aren't above-board in their herping activities only hurt the rest of us that are trying to maintain good practices and relationships. Police each other, or the job will fall on LE and they aren't necessarily as accommodating.

2. Should go without saying, but Game Wardens read Field Herp Forum. This is a good thing.

3. Similar to Point #1--regardless of whether you agree completely with this Game Warden's perspective, it is important to realize that it IS his perspective, and one shared by many others in the Game Warden community. It is good to receive this sort of feedback as it should help us in how we conduct ourselves in the field and what the expectations are.

User avatar
BillMcGighan
Posts: 2308
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
Location: Unicoi, TN

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by BillMcGighan » July 28th, 2014, 8:20 am

This is the best Chris, and it can't be stated enough:
Key points:

1. Whether you agree with herping-specific laws or not, FOLLOW THEM.

It frustrates the hell out of me when I hear folks argue with a LEO in any position, over the value of the law, like this person actually wrote, voted, and enacted it.

In the dark and on a remote road is not the place for debate with a working person who may or may not agree with the law themselves.

For every badge-heavy bad story about a wildlife officer, there are many positive ones.

User avatar
Soopaman
Posts: 923
Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Soopaman » July 28th, 2014, 10:22 am

If they read the forums then maybe they'll read this:

I'd love to have a game warden help to get canebrakes off the road during their peak road active season out here, and do something about the locals that brag about killing them.

I was taking photos of a DOR canebrake the other day and had a police cruiser pull up to me. I explained to the police what I was doing, which they were fine with. What wasn't fine, to me, is that LEO didn't know that this was a protected species and then proceeded to tell me "I just run over them when I see them." I told them they can do whatever they want, being cops and all, but this is a protected species and they should avoid killing it/running it over.

It seems absurd to me that in an area where this species has a great presence, nothing is ever done to protect it or raise awareness to LEO in the area, even if they aren't game wardens, but there's tons of focus on herpers in west Texas and making sure they wear their vests while they shine cuts. I'm not saying that's not important, but I'd like to see some attention given to help protected species.

tanks
Posts: 22
Joined: October 10th, 2011, 7:38 am

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by tanks » July 28th, 2014, 1:33 pm

Here is the problem, we now have LE making this determination and saying people are lying, maybe some are and maybe some are not??? Now the warden becomes the judge and jury along the roadway for a law that makes criminals out of photographers and people assisting in research projects?? or maybe just a kind hearted person moving a turtle off the road so its not killed. So far to date out of the group of so called liars we have now made criminals by charging several professional photographers, authors, and just plain naturalist. I know a few of the people that this email refers too and one of them was here taking pics for a new book they are working on, he was not here collecting and in fact posses scientific permits but did not activate them because he was not collecting so he saw no need to activate them. What is wrong with a system that makes criminals out of these types of people coming to my state to spend their money, whats wrong with a system in which law enforcement picks and chooses who is lying?? This is a slippery slope for LE, they have a job to do and i understand that but sometimes discretion is better judgement to have rather than presuming people are lying. When we have laws that allow animals to be run over but cannot be removed from the roadway, or we have laws that prevent people from stopping a snake along the road to take a pic we have a system that might just need to be changed.

The whole premise of the law was just crazy and the last legacy of a dictator that is now gone, its about time that we work with TP&W and make some changes to the law that will allow a little bit of movement, although this law allows some hunting in some areas we all know it does nothing for south texas, east texas, etc, etc to allow for collecting, photography, for data collection or for just plain and simple conservation. There should be no reason why someone could not locate an animal from a vehicle, park in a safe manner and remove the animal from the roadway to collect, photograph, record data or just save the animals life.

Remember this law only pertains to this tasks at night due to the artificial lighting clause that was changed at the last minute before the vote, you can drive down the road during the day and locate animals with natural light all day long, one can kind of see how crazy this is. The whole thing is actually nuts and a non impact activity, the key here is it has to be done in a safe orderly fashion. We do not need to run people off from texas and make the general public a criminal for conducting the above listed tasks, nor do we need our LE to even begin to try to determine who is telling the truth or who is not, lets change the wording of law in the last sentence from no artificial lighting to locate to something like no hand held artificial lighting from a moving vehicle. PROBLEM SOLVED and then we can truly separate the liars from the good guys.

Just remember 4 people this year alone have been stopped, hassled and cited for doing no more than taking pics and were actually not hunting (NO LIE)

Jacob
Posts: 122
Joined: July 1st, 2010, 7:07 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Jacob » July 28th, 2014, 2:24 pm

First: Thanks Chris for forwarding the message on.

Second: Sorry Chris for all the "herpers" ranting and turning this informative thread into a subjective soapbox. Unfortunately, not all LE are going to be as diligent as the one above. Hopefully, some light will be shed out east on the canebrake situation.

Third: Never had a problem with LE...EVER and I have spent plenty of time out West. I really appreciate a fellow herper that is among the ranks of LE that takes the herp hunting seriously and spends time to reach out to some one respected in this community.

I would rather encounter this gentlemen at 2am (and pay a citation) than the majority of other humans roaming around out West.

Thanks again for being the calm and unbiased voice.

User avatar
Mike VanValen
Posts: 2074
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Location: Connecticut
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Mike VanValen » July 28th, 2014, 3:12 pm

chris_mcmartin wrote: 2. Should go without saying, but Game Wardens read Field Herp Forum. This is a good thing.
This needs to be said because there are people who don't believe it. I've known it for at least 7 years, because I've been straight up told by them.

tanks
Posts: 22
Joined: October 10th, 2011, 7:38 am

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by tanks » July 28th, 2014, 4:47 pm

Jacob maybe you havent had this occur but it does, i personally havent collected a snake for personal use in 12 yrs, i have collected DOR's for museum specimens. I have been stopped and harassed for moving an animal off the road. If you havent had this you are lucky, the ability is there for it to occur and you are the type of guy that needs to play the loto because you might win, same reason i dont play it. The problem isnt LE other than trying to decide who is lying, it is the law that prevents such things & as i stated if we are charging people with a crim or hassling them due to a law that has stepped over a line a little we need to fix it, but i do not want LE deciding that if i stop to take a pic ( i take lots) that i am a liar. That is a big issue, i dont have the problem with enforcing the laws but at a huge cost to the tax payers to put 3 wardens out on the road with an expensive dog to try to prevent 5 people from an activity that may include research, photography or conservation along with collectors is nuts. We have enough drain on the economy, lets get a law that will allow folks to assist in research projects (INaturalist), conservation by removing animals from the road and spend their hard earned money in my state to further my wealth lol.

Lets not even go down the road of the unfairness under the ADA, we know have created a law that discriminates against handi capped folks, which was all known when this law was re written by a few bureaucrats at the last minute. Its a simple 3-4 word switch-aroo and bam done. Now you still have to park off the road, etc and not be an ass but it just solves a hell of a lot of problems, it also will open the state up for much more data collection that can be used for years to come for research projects. Who knows how important the data i send in my be one day. I might be as famous as Klauber when i die, who knows. I just dont want to see anymore people scared to come to texas to take pics or notes for a book they are writing. Once is to many but its much bigger than just one person cited and harassed!!

Please dont take this all the wrong way i do understand there is a job to be done by the wardens, this is not an attack on them in any fashion. ITs a fine line between the job they have to do and making determinations and i do understand that, so lets simplify that job. Once we fix this ill move on to health care seams that might need some looking into as well lol

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 28th, 2014, 7:20 pm

I have to admit that I've no sympathy whatsoever for folks who complain that all they want to do is take photographs (so they shouldn't have to have a license...). If one is pointedly making use of a resource and it's a resource that is or should be managed (and in my opinion that includes all wildlife that people target for recreational activities), then it seems only appropriate to me that one pay a user fee, i.e. in this case buy a license. I don't care whether one is hunting the animals for the cook pot, collecting them for pets, photographing them for keepsakes or documentation or just watching them for entertainment and education. Having a license greatly simplifies LE's work, too; a field officer doesn't have to try to determine the veracity of a user's claim that the user is only involved in this activity, not that one. For all the complaining some folks do about licenses, they really aren't very expensive, especially compared to everything else a herp hunter will spend money on while enjoying the pursuit.

I think it's great that your TX game warden corresponds with you, Chris, and that you've shared some of that correspondence with us here. Such communication can only help both herpers and LE, who really should be working together on behalf of the resource rather than treating each other with suspicion or worse.

Gerry

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 28th, 2014, 7:30 pm

gbin wrote:I have to admit that I've no sympathy whatsoever for folks who complain that all they want to do is take photographs (so they shouldn't have to have a license...). If one is pointedly making use of a resource and it's a resource that is or should be managed (and in my opinion that includes all wildlife that people target for recreational activities), then it seems only appropriate to me that one pay a user fee, i.e. in this case buy a license. I don't care whether one is hunting the animals for the cook pot, collecting them for pets, photographing them for keepsakes or documentation or just watching them for entertainment and education.
I can't agree with this. Anyone who pulls over to look at/photograph a pronghorn (if they're lucky enough to see one before it gallops away) needs a hunting license? Talk about an enforcement nightmare! I guess there will have to be a special "Flickr Patrol" subset of game wardens tasked with this. :P

Having a license greatly simplifies LE's work, too; a field officer doesn't have to try to determine the veracity of a user's claim that the user is only involved in this activity, not that one.
While that is true, you know what else greatly simplifies LE's work? Restoring the law to pre-2007 conditions (where no special stamp was needed, and you could scoop a herp off the road with no need to worry about getting a ticket for shooing a turtle out of harm's way, or collecting a DOR for a museum, etc. ).

Obviously I sympathize with the Game Warden on patrol, often alone, in the middle of night, in the middle of nowhere, trying to gauge whether someone is on the up-and-up...that is why I think the vests are a good idea. Vests are worn by someone who knows the law; therefore the someone inside the vest is probably not a shady character....probably.

I think it's great that your TX game warden corresponds with you
I can't claim him...he's EVERYONE'S Game Warden. 8-) In any case, he may be joining this discussion soon (pending approval of his request to join FHF).

luv_the_smellof_musk
Posts: 55
Joined: December 4th, 2012, 6:19 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by luv_the_smellof_musk » July 28th, 2014, 7:42 pm

As an outside, I don't really get it. What is the big deal about some people walking around roadsides looking at snakes? What could they possibly hurt?

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 28th, 2014, 8:01 pm

luv_the_smellof_musk wrote:As an outside, I don't really get it. What is the big deal about some people walking around roadsides looking at snakes? What could they possibly hurt?
To my knowledge, yours is the mindset of every state except Texas... :?

VICtort
Posts: 687
Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
Location: AZ.

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by VICtort » July 28th, 2014, 8:54 pm

Dear Chris, Tanks, others,

I am not sure it is as you say in every state... and those who are critical of LE, please consider they get lied to frequently, by persons from all walks of life, not just "bad guys ". Further, almost every defendant/subject has an excuse, rationalization for behavior.

Chris's analogy to observing pronghorn is interesting. Do you think catch and release anglers should buy a license , even though they don't kill/collect?

When I hear vague references to "being hassled" by wardens, I cringe at what is either rationalizing suspicious behavior or profound naïveté to what violators commonly do. Many cases start with minor infractions or omissions, and a savvy officer develops the case. Obviously investigating will often prove innocence and the warden will conclude that and move on.

Remember also most wildlife officers/agencies have a broad definition of take and attempt to take. Photographers that alter an animals behavior in any way are often deemed to be "taking", similar to catch and release angling.

I am in Gerry's corner on this one, just get the license and move on and have fun. I also support the idea of changing some of these laws that serve little purpose. Does anyone recall who specifically put these laws/ interpretations on the books? They should be held accountable.

This is a contentious issue that just keeps coming 'round...

Vic

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 29th, 2014, 2:42 am

chris_mcmartin wrote:
gbin wrote:I have to admit that I've no sympathy whatsoever for folks who complain that all they want to do is take photographs (so they shouldn't have to have a license...). If one is pointedly making use of a resource and it's a resource that is or should be managed (and in my opinion that includes all wildlife that people target for recreational activities), then it seems only appropriate to me that one pay a user fee, i.e. in this case buy a license. I don't care whether one is hunting the animals for the cook pot, collecting them for pets, photographing them for keepsakes or documentation or just watching them for entertainment and education.
I can't agree with this. Anyone who pulls over to look at/photograph a pronghorn (if they're lucky enough to see one before it gallops away) needs a hunting license?...
That's not what I said or meant. I spoke of "pointedly making use of" and "target[ing] for recreational activities," in other words, putting in effort specifically to hunt for (regardless of whether the hunt ends in a killed/collected/photographed/what-have-you animal). A parallel can be found in our national park system. I recently had occasion to visit Cedar Breaks National Monument in southwestern UT, which offers one example. It's one of those parks where some people drive through with the intent of seeing the park whereas others do so simply with the intent of getting from one end to another as they're traveling along. One is supposed to pay the park's fee if one stops at any of the overlooks (though many don't, I suppose rationalizing to themselves "why should I have to pay just to look?"), i.e. pointedly makes use of the resource, whereas one need not pay the fee if just driving through. Some people like to maintain the self-serving fiction that going somewhere/doing something just to photograph or look isn't using the resource. I can't agree with that.

And yes, I agree that some interpretation by field officers is still involved. But it's a lot easier for them to tell whether a person is hunting herps than it is for them to tell what the person intends to do with whatever herps s/he finds.

Gerry

User avatar
justinm
Posts: 3423
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Location: Illinois
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by justinm » July 29th, 2014, 4:29 am

As a guy from the Great Plains, I'm not in the know on how to get legal in Texas? I'm in Texas every two weeks or so for work. I would like to make sure I'm not going to wind up on the wrong side of the law trying to see some snakes. Can anyone give me the gist of what I need to do? Thanks I've never had an issue with Game Wardens, cops are a different story but I try to keep it cool with Game Officers.

User avatar
kansascrote
Posts: 64
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 2:29 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by kansascrote » July 29th, 2014, 5:58 am

It just depends on the game warden! I have watched a GW here in Kansas help KILL a small timber stating it was to close
to humans???? While as I looked around there was nothing in eye view except the farmer, the game warden and me????
I have been worked over in Texas, even after I proved I was legal, the game warden proceeded to serch my truck, give me a
hard time about snakes that had been collected with permits, in another state, with out a clue that sidewinders could not have
been collected in Texas, or that they were even sidewinders! At the same time I have had game wardens take me to sites
and watch me photo rattlers that I wanted to find and even go as far as to tell me where they had seen these animals and
the best times to find them! I always tell the truth to LE, but when LE starts that "Macho BS" I always feel anger that they even stopped me! I think they have a job to do and I am OK with that! At the same time once you see I am not breaking the law, leave me alone and let me enjoy my hobbie and free time! As to the timber, if LE will not follow the law then who are you
to talk to me???????

User avatar
chrish
Posts: 3295
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chrish » July 29th, 2014, 6:42 am

I think Vic's analogy is perfect. We are exactly like catch and release fishermen and should be treated and licensed similarly.

But fishermen aren't stopping in the middle of the road at night to pick up their quarry.
tanks wrote:So far to date out of the group of so called liars we have now made criminals by charging several professional photographers, authors, and just plain naturalist.
..........who refused to follow the law and so were cited for their violations. The game wardens didn't act as judge and jury. They simply enforced the laws as they are mandated to do. Those cited are still welcome to go before a judge (and even a jury) to give their side of the case.
I know a few of the people that this email refers too and one of them was here taking pics for a new book they are working on, he was not here collecting and in fact posses scientific permits but did not activate them because he was not collecting so he saw no need to activate them.
Activate the scientific permit? You don't have to activate a scientific permit. You have one issued to you and it is valid. Are you saying the person chose not to present it to the warden? Then that was just stupid. That would be like having a hunting license but choosing not to show it to the warden and taking the ticket for not having one.
What is wrong with a system that makes criminals out of these types of people coming to my state to spend their money, whats wrong with a system in which law enforcement picks and chooses who is lying??


Was anybody who had all the necessary permits ticketed? Again, think about the catch and release angler analogy. They should have licenses and so should someone who is photographing snakes on the road. (Yes, the photographer should be able to move the animal off the road, but that is a separate issue).
When we have laws that allow animals to be run over but cannot be removed from the roadway, or we have laws that prevent people from stopping a snake along the road to take a pic we have a system that might just need to be changed.
I agree, but until then I think we have a responsibility to abide by the laws as they currently exist.
There should be no reason why someone could not locate an animal from a vehicle, park in a safe manner and remove the animal from the roadway to collect, photograph, record data or just save the animals life.
You are correct. But the problem is that there are liars among us. There are those who say they are only there to take photos or take "data" who have every intention of collecting their target species should they come across it. What's the old phrase.....one bad apple (great, now I have that stupid Donny Osmond song going through my mind!).
.....nor do we need our LE to even begin to try to determine who is telling the truth or who is not,


You are correct. The game wardens should issue citations to suspected violators and let the violators go before a judge to examine the evidence and hear the testimony. To not issue those citations would be an example of the game warden acting as "both judge and jury", which was your complaint.
Just remember 4 people this year alone have been stopped, hassled and cited for doing no more than taking pics and were actually not hunting (NO LIE)
That is considered hunting. I don't agree, but I don't write the laws.
The thing is that those individuals knew the law, knew the requirements and chose to not purchase the appropriate licenses. They weren't caught unawares.
Complaining about that is analogous to complaining when you get a speeding ticket because you felt like you should have been allowed to drive 90mph on that road. You weren't, you knew you were violating the law, take the ticket.

Yes, the law is imperfect, but it is improving.

BTW Jeff. Good to see a well thought out rant from you on the forums again. I thought you might be softening in your old age. :lol:

Chris

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 29th, 2014, 7:16 am

kansascrote wrote:I have been worked over in Texas, even after I proved I was legal, the game warden proceeded to serch my truck, give me a
hard time about snakes that had been collected with permits, in another state, with out a clue that sidewinders could not have
been collected in Texas, or that they were even sidewinders! At the same time I have had game wardens take me to sites
and watch me photo rattlers that I wanted to find and even go as far as to tell me where they had seen these animals and
the best times to find them!
Stories like this are why it's essential to welcome and encourage Game Wardens to post here...for their education and benefit as well as ours.


Getting back to the "catch-and-release" analogy: it's not quite an apples-to-apples comparison--unless you are handling the herps. In situ photography is growing in popularity, so handling is not necessary and, among some purists, is even strongly discouraged. In this example, herp photography is like fish photography. I've never been cited for photographing a fish (though the pics aren't spectacular).

If we have a special stamp for reptiles and amphibians, it should grant us the ability to handle herps for photography, or even (shudder) collect some, within bag limits.

- From a population/ecological perspective, it doesn't matter whether a snake or a toad is on asphalt or in the grass 20 feet away.

- From a "user-pays" perspective, we are PAYING extra to utilize this particular resource--on top of breeder permits, dealer permits, etc. should one decide to propagate. (a separate concern of mine is that the money from the TX herp stamp goes to the general fund vs. the nongame programs fund where it would directly benefit herps...perhaps we can also get that changed).

- From a safety perspective, it's no different than stopping to retrieve something that fell out of/off your car (like my hubcap on washed-out 2400 this summer...)...or engaging in falconry (specifically exempted from the road ban)...or wildflower photography, rock-hounding, highway cleanup, etc. In fact, it's MORE safe, because we herpers are the only group singled out to require wearing reflective vests (highway cleanup being the possible exception, if it's done as an organized event).

- From a law-enforcement perspective, simplifying the law reduces the need for extensive probing in trying to divine someone's intent. There will still be people doing other things not allowed, but more likely from a public-safety standpoint (like not pulling completely off the road) than a hunting standpoint (unless they're discharging a firearm across the road!).

Though I agree that "just getting the license and stamp" is more expedient for all involved since it helps reduce ambiguity and potential misunderstandings when in the field, thereby reducing time spent discussing concerns with LE and affording more time actually herping (and I'm sure I've suggested that to prospective TX herpers elsewhere on these forums), if someone is not doing anything which requires the stamp as explained in the current TX Parks and Wildlife Code, they do not need a hunting license, let alone a herp stamp. It would be like someone issuing a birder a citation when they pull out a pair of binoculars.


Also, chrish: perhaps some Scientific Collection Permits read differently. Mine says I must activate it each time I use it by notifying the applicable Game Warden offices at least 24 hours in advance...on my last trip to Texas, when I called with my list of counties I'd be traversing, I told the secretary it would probably be easier if I just said "Texas." She had me list them anyway, and when I was finished she said, "Yeah, you probably would've been fine just saying 'Texas.'"

In the end, the Texas Natural History Collection got some nice new specimens (DORs), and the folks who ran over them never had to call to get permission, let alone pay for a license and permit.

I cannot speak for the individual(s) involved with the latest discussion in the field, having NOT activated their SCP, but there may be the perception that activating an SCP merely serves to highlight a herper's presence in a certain area, giving Game Wardens an area in which to focus in the hopes of catching the herper doing something for which they can get written up.

Lawbreakers will be lawbreakers regardless of whether the "good guys" have to comply with more laws or less laws. I advocate making it easy for people to do the right thing. Selective enforcement of the road/right-of-way laws, between regions of the state and between individual wardens, only makes it more difficult to stay above-board while balancing access to the herps.

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 29th, 2014, 7:49 am

chris_mcmartin wrote:Getting back to the "catch-and-release" analogy: it's not quite an apples-to-apples comparison--unless you are handling the herps. In situ photography is growing in popularity, so handling is not necessary and, among some purists, is even strongly discouraged. In this example, herp photography is like fish photography. I've never been cited for photographing a fish (though the pics aren't spectacular).
Most people who photograph fish do catch and at least temporarily hold (in streamside photo tanks if nothing else) the fish involved, hence they do indeed generally need a fishing license.

But I agree that the national parks parallel that I drew - and that you didn't comment on ;) - is a better fit, especially because it focuses the attention where it belongs. People like to self-servingly consider nothing but the end result of their pursuit rather than the pursuit itself ("It doesn't matter that I was hunting herps because I was only photographing those I found"), as I mentioned, but I don't believe that's appropriate. What I believe is that all of us should support wildlife/wild lands management and conservation to at least some extent (e.g. through taxes), and those of us who make particular use of wildlife/wild lands should accordingly support their management and conservation to a greater extent (e.g. through licenses). That's what actually makes sense, regardless of whether it costs me a few more bucks here and there. The argument that "I shouldn't have to buy a herp hunting license because I don't disturb the herps I hunt" is no more persuasive to me than the argument that "I shouldn't have to pay taxes in support of national parks because I never visit national parks," which is to say not at all.

Gerry

Jimi
Posts: 1881
Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Jimi » July 29th, 2014, 9:12 am

This gives me a little heartburn:
Lawbreakers will be lawbreakers regardless of whether the "good guys" have to comply with more laws or less laws.
Here's why. From Wikipedia:
In social psychology, the fundamental attribution error, also known as the correspondence bias or attribution effect, is people's tendency to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics to explain someone else's behavior in a given situation, rather than considering external factors. It does not explain interpretations of one's own behavior, where situational factors are more easily recognized and can thus be taken into consideration. The flip side of this error is the actor–observer bias, in which people tend to overemphasize the role of a situation in their behaviors and underemphasize the role of their own personalities.

As a simple example, consider a situation where Alice, a driver, is about to pass through an intersection. Her light turns green and she begins to accelerate, but another car drives through the red light and crosses in front of her. The fundamental attribution error may lead her to think that the driver of the other car was an unskilled or reckless driver. This will be an error if the other driver had a good reason for running the light, such as rushing a patient to the hospital. If this is the case and Alice had been driving the other car, she would have understood that the situation called for speed at the cost of safety, but when seeing it from the outside she was inclined to believe that the behavior of the other driver reflected their fundamental nature (having poor driving skills or a reckless attitude).
This below I agree with wholeheartedly. Note the logical contrast with the sentence preceding it in the original - in effect it says "government" should not trick or nudge normal, "97% good" individuals into outlaw behaviors. This statement doesn't categorize people into "good" and "bad" bins, the cognitive bias of which was the point of the wiki snippet:
I advocate making it easy for people to do the right thing. Selective enforcement of the road/right-of-way laws, between regions of the state and between individual wardens, only makes it more difficult to stay above-board while balancing access to the herps.
I hope I'm not leading this conversation too far afield. Back to basics - just buy the license or stamp if one is offered, and go have fun. "Minor martyrdom" has little chance of doing much good, unless you're willing to throw down some time and money and go to court or a long series of public meetings, to try to get stupid laws or rules, or wacky interpretations, or selective enforcement changed. "Minor martyrdom" has especially dim prospects for success if it's being attempted with poor understanding of the realities of - and differences between - legislative codes, agency rules, and the vagaries of interpretation and enforcement. Do that, and your "principled stand" is reduced to just another dumb statistic.

Cheers,
Jimi

Kfen
Posts: 400
Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
Location: CT

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Kfen » July 29th, 2014, 9:32 am

One quick note to those who say just buy the license and be done with it:
A couple of years ago I went to Texas with my wife to visit some friends. I wasn't sure if I was going to have time to go out road cruising or not. An out of state hunting license was going to cost me over $100. I don't know about you, but $100 to MAYBE get out for a couple hours is a lot of money for me, especially since I wasn't going to take anything but pictures home. I did end up going out one evening, and saw 1 DOR ribbon. I made the right choice not to waste my money.

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 29th, 2014, 10:14 am

gbin wrote:Most people who photograph fish do catch and at least temporarily hold (in streamside photo tanks if nothing else) the fish involved, hence they do indeed generally need a fishing license.
I have several photos of fish taken from the bank, bridges, etc. Like I said, they're not the best, but no handling--and no license--is required. Similarly, I have in situ shots that are terrible--but they comply with the law (don't handle, corral, herd, etc.). That is my point.
But I agree that the national parks parallel that I drew - and that you didn't comment on ;) - is a better fit, especially because it focuses the attention where it belongs.
Sort of. 8-)

There are park roads, and there are public highways. Park roads are not thoroughfares and are often gated after hours. Public highways through parks are exactly that. Should we only look straight ahead, down the road, so as not to inadvertently "use the resource?" As I've said (at least, I THINK I did!), it's not necessarily a question of propriety, but one of enforceability.

What I believe is that all of us should support wildlife/wild lands management and conservation to at least some extent (e.g. through taxes), and those of us who make particular use of wildlife/wild lands should accordingly support their management and conservation to a greater extent (e.g. through licenses).
If I may be so bold as to infer what I think is the main thrust of your stance--If you enjoy something in particular, you should do what you can to support it. I agree, and/but there are other ways of doing it than purchasing a license (primarily intended for consumptive use of the resource, and technically requiring Hunter Education--firearms safety training) and a stamp (whose funds DO NOT support herps!).

My additional point don't let the existence of "freeloaders" who don't buy said licenses (because, by letter of the law, they are not required to do so)--lessen your personal experience.

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 29th, 2014, 10:48 am

Kfen wrote:A couple of years ago I went to Texas... An out of state hunting license was going to cost me over $100...
From TPWD's website:
Non-resident 5-Day Special Hunting

Type 157:
$48

Legal for any period of 5 consecutive days (valid hunting dates will be printed on the license when issued). Valid to hunt:

exotic animals,
all legal game birds (except turkeys),
all nongame animals, squirrel, javelina and alligator (not valid for other game animals, NOT VALID FOR DEER).

Stamp endorsement requirements apply.

...

Reptile and Amphibian Stamp

Type 178:
$10

Required for any person to capture indigenous reptiles or amphibians on the shoulder of a public road or any unpaved area of a public right of way. Holders of lifetime licenses and persons under 17 years of age are not exempt from this stamp.
Setting aside apparent math errors, I wonder, how much did your trip to TX cost overall? Including travel expenses, going out to dinner, whatever other recreation you engaged in, etc.?

I wonder, too, do you think deer hunters shouldn't bother to buy licenses given that some of them won't manage to get deer?
chris_mcmartin wrote:
gbin wrote:Most people who photograph fish do catch and at least temporarily hold (in streamside photo tanks if nothing else) the fish involved, hence they do indeed generally need a fishing license.
I have several photos of fish taken from the bank, bridges, etc. Like I said, they're not the best, but no handling--and no license--is required. Similarly, I have in situ shots that are terrible--but they comply with the law (don't handle, corral, herd, etc.). That is my point.
Hence my saying "most people"... ;)
chris_mcmartin wrote:There are park roads, and there are public highways. Park roads are not thoroughfares and are often gated after hours. Public highways through parks are exactly that. Should we only look straight ahead, down the road, so as not to inadvertently "use the resource?" As I've said (at least, I THINK I did!), it's not necessarily a question of propriety, but one of enforceability.
1) The road through Cedar Breaks National Monument that I mentioned is a public highway, not a park road. As I said, the fee is required for folks stopping at the overlooks, not just driving down the road.

2) Once again (sigh...), inadvertent use of the resource is "not what I said or meant. I spoke of 'pointedly making use of' and 'target[ing] for recreational activities,' in other words, putting in effort specifically to hunt for (regardless of whether the hunt ends in a killed/collected/photographed/what-have-you animal)." You know whether you're traveling through a national park to see the national park or just to get to the other side; do the right thing and pay the entrance fee if it's the former. Likewise, you know whether you're out looking for herps or just happen upon one while doing other things; do the right thing and pay for the license if it's the former. This is only complex if one is determined to make it so.
What I believe is that all of us should support wildlife/wild lands management and conservation to at least some extent (e.g. through taxes), and those of us who make particular use of wildlife/wild lands should accordingly support their management and conservation to a greater extent (e.g. through licenses).
chris_mcmartin wrote:If I may be so bold as to infer what I think is the main thrust of your stance--If you enjoy something in particular, you should do what you can to support it...
Not quite, Chris. I'd say instead that you should be required to pay to support public resource management and conservation in one or two ways: At the very least via taxes if you don't directly make use of the resource, and via an additional user fee if you do. It should not be - and often is not - up to you to decide whether or how much you contribute, at least legally. (What people actually do is of course largely up to their own consciences.)

Gerry

Kfen
Posts: 400
Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
Location: CT

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Kfen » July 29th, 2014, 11:08 am

gbin wrote: Setting aside apparent math errors, I wonder, how much did your trip to TX cost overall? Including travel expenses, going out to dinner, whatever other recreation you engaged in, etc.?

I wonder, too, do you think deer hunters shouldn't bother to buy licenses given that some of them won't manage to get deer?


Gerry
I was there for more than five days, and like I said, wasn't sure when, or IF I was going to get out at all. Last time I checked, $48 x 2 plus $10 is over 100. I wont even try to add up my total trip costs for fear of being wrong in your eyes.

For everyone else reading: The point was, $100+ (or even $58) seems excessive to me to possibly take a couple pictures. That is my opinion.

User avatar
tdimler
Posts: 19
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:02 pm
Location: Borden County, TX

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by tdimler » July 29th, 2014, 11:19 am

chrish wrote:
BTW Jeff. Good to see a well thought out rant from you on the forums again. I thought you might be softening in your old age. :lol:

Chris
Jeff softening? Maybe you need to go pay him a visit! LOL

Regarding all other discourse and superfluous chatter on licenses and resource use ....I don't think there is anyone who is complaining about having to buy a license and herp stamp. If you are out there without a license and vest, I agree that is stupid and you deserve to deal with the fallout.

However, someone from out of state getting warned/ticketed for legitimately photographing a herp on the road is way out of line. Even if that person was in TX with the purpose of collecting a target species, just like the rest of us (hopefully), 99% of our finds are truly photographed and sent on their way. If road collecting remains illegal, it is always going to give LE the position to interpret what we're doing out there. We need to get the regulations such that all a LE officer would have to check on said person is for a license, vest if at night, and to see that they are not breaking any traffic code. There is not much room for interpretation on those items.

Travis

User avatar
cbernz
Posts: 547
Joined: March 16th, 2011, 11:28 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by cbernz » July 29th, 2014, 12:32 pm

I was in Texas in April with a group of mixed birders/butterfliers/photographers with casual interest in herps. We asked the rangers at one particular park about the possibility of driving the park roads at night and photographing animals on the road. The rangers said that it was fine with them, as long as we didn't linger too long. They also told us about some of the better roads and the snakes they had seen on them. People are generally reasonable with you when you carry cameras and binoculars instead of snake hooks and bags. I've had experiences elsewhere where I looked more suspicious and have been followed and accosted by rangers, but in the end, when I explain what I'm up to, I always get treated well, and almost always get a tip or two on places to look. One thing that I imagine LE officers get really good at is having an instinct for the type of person they are stopping - they probably know before you even speak a word to them what kind of person you are and what you're up to.

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 29th, 2014, 1:18 pm

Kfen wrote:I was there for more than five days...
Fair enough. That's not at all how you made it sound, though; you emphasized how little, if at all, you were planning to get out. You didn't need to buy a license to cover the entire time of your TX visit, you know, you could have just bought a license that covered a portion of it. They're so widely available (including via the internet) that you could very likely have purchased it just before you needed it, too.
Kfen wrote:...I wont even try to add up my total trip costs for fear of being wrong in your eyes.
I don't think that's why you're not addressing this point of mine, but ok.
Kfen wrote:For everyone else reading: The point was, $100+ (or even $58) seems excessive to me to possibly take a couple pictures. That is my opinion.
Understood, and I readily concede that we're each entitled to our own opinion. (Mine is that I'm not sympathetic with your view on this, as I said, nor would I have been sympathetic had you been cited for herp hunting without a license/stamp.) Of course, the law is the law, not a matter of your or my opinion.

And I bet some of the people who don't manage to have a successful deer hunt think what they paid for a license just to try was excessive, too. The fact of the matter is that you're not paying for a hunt's success by buying a license, but for the hunt itself. Focusing on a lack of hunting success - or what happens to the animals turned up while hunting (e.g. whether they were bagged or photographed) - to rationalize not having paid for a license is just that: mere rationalization for misbehavior. That is my opinion. ;)
tdimler wrote:...I don't think there is anyone who is complaining about having to buy a license and herp stamp. If you are out there without a license and vest, I agree that is stupid and you deserve to deal with the fallout.

However, someone from out of state getting warned/ticketed for legitimately photographing a herp on the road is way out of line. Even if that person was in TX with the purpose of collecting a target species, just like the rest of us (hopefully), 99% of our finds are truly photographed and sent on their way...
Sorry, but I'm not following you. You seem to be saying two very different things right next to each other - and wouldn't you know it, I've managed to find things I disagree with in both parts! :lol: Oh well, I've had my say and have no interest in arguing for arguing's sake.

Gerry

User avatar
Mike VanValen
Posts: 2074
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Location: Connecticut
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Mike VanValen » July 29th, 2014, 1:55 pm

I wish there was a license or stamp I could get to make things a bit easier. But, herping is not big enough here to warrant it. My problem is when I am questioned or harassed for simply walking around the woods with a camera in my hand. It's becoming more and more difficult in this paranoid world we live in.

User avatar
regalringneck
Posts: 563
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:20 am

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by regalringneck » July 29th, 2014, 2:13 pm

... lots to disagree w/ above, & numerous nuggets too ... but i shan't take the time to elucidate once again why, but will instead point out an overlooked inconveinient fact that negates or moderates many of those arguments; lots of us buy our own state licenses annually, so the idea that we're freeloading when we are photographing wildlife in another state (often while on federal land or a public road) is absurd. It is also absurd to charge a suv load of college kids 100.- + EACH for the cover charge just to play, ... even if thats chump change for Dr. B.
These fees are all user taxes, the wardens function largely as field tax agents, yet we in the wildlife profession know anything that seperates young people from interacting w/nature is a bad long term strategy... hey if america can afford endless war, i suggest we can also afford gen tax revenues for wildlife mngmt.
For the record, when im out of state; im birding/owling or potatoebugg'n ... heres the proof & remember your cellphones & cameras are no longer areas for warrantless searches ... except @ the frontera ... b safe out there & have fun, our troop's need to keep their cool & remember whats actually important (& it aint wildlif on the road!) & what really makes a difference; pollution/habitat issues ... : }

Image

Bob McKeever
Posts: 116
Joined: July 9th, 2010, 4:39 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Bob McKeever » July 29th, 2014, 3:54 pm

Holy smokes! This subject hits close to home and I’d like to comment on about every point that’s been made or on every question that’s been raised, but that would involve an extremely long post. Warning: This one is going to be too long as it is. Several individual threads could profitably be started & fleshed out from this one.

I recommend not reading this without tissues readily available.

Few folks on the forum know me beyond my sporadic posts. Those that do, know me to be a retired 30 year LEO (federal land management agency) and a long-time herper who collects both data and photographs, collects an occasional live animal and, when there is a purpose matched to an identified repository, collects road-kills. I’m, unashamedly, a consumptive user when it’s permitted and don’t mind buying a license to do it. The subject of what constitutes a “take” and when a license should be required for photography requires a more lengthy exam.

Having worked along-side several score officers both in the field and in the management end of things, I’ve been exposed to a broad spectrum of LEO behavior regarding violators (a relative few of the persons encountered over a given time) and potential violators (everyone else). Some I admired & learned from, others I scrupulously avoided (when possible) after my first exposure to their attitude and tactics.

Having some 40+ years of herping experience, heavily weighted toward road-cruising for reasons that are my own, I’m reasonably sure I understand the discussion from at least one of the broad range of herper points-of-view. And, as a herper, I’ve had more contact with representatives of law enforcement than I ever had with herpers while I was a member of the LE community.

With my herping focus having been the warm deserts of the southwestern U.S., I’ve had more contact with the border patrol than any other single agency. I’ve also been pulled over or otherwise checked while herping by park rangers, state police, county sheriff’s deputies, tribal police, and, of course, game wardens. Other than the obvious herping behavior recognized by some of these folks, goodness only knows what some of their suspicions were. In these interactions, I avoid identifying myself as a former LEO and have always had the required license or permit to be doing what I enjoy. I hunt for herps and, sometimes, even collect (gasp!) a herp or two.

In my experience, the border patrol has been the most consistently professional and public-service oriented in their approach. In most cases, the others have at least been professional. However, on two separate occasions I’ve been pulled over by sheriff’s deputies who “lied their ass off” as to why they pulled me over, but neither instance turned into anything more than snake-story-sharing-time after the initial contact was finished. Game wardens, while also professional, have almost universally shown disappointment when I produced the proper license. Rather the opposite of what I would have expected given the intent of license/permit requirements.

But, now to Texas. Some years ago, as an avocational pursuit, I decided on a project to compare the snake assemblages that a road-cruising herper could encounter in each of America’s three warm deserts and in the transitions between them. So I did some research and a lot of travel to identify roads in each, with west Texas harboring one of the transects I chose in the Chihuahuan.

My Texas transect doesn’t seem a popular herping destination. In the years that I road-cruised there (armed with a license), I never encountered another herper or a game warden while I gathered data on over a hundred snakes, moved or followed most of these from the road, photographed many of them, and collected a few. To my chagrin, Texas eventually determined my activity to be something of a criminal enterprise and, as one would expect in such cases, made it illegal. No more road-cruising, no more data collection, no more photography, and no more collecting of any extent, minimal or otherwise.

Wait! How could I be more obtuse? I could walk the transect of some 72 miles, round trip, wearing a reflective vest and still accomplish my goals. Not. Don’t mind the vest or the license but the walk, at my age, is a bit much. I didn’t much mind those nights when I drove those miles and saw nothing. While disappointing, I still considered it time well spent. But to walk the same miles, if I could handle it (I can’t), and not see anything . . .!

So, I continue gathering data from a New Mexico transect (the 2nd from the Chihuahuan Desert), and from several others (Sonoran & Mojave Deserts) in Arizona, California, and Nevada, I have to wonder how much longer I’ll be able to get away with an activity so obviously detrimental to the health, safety, and purity of any natural bodies concerned. When will these states eventually join Texas in the 21st century?

Rest assured, however, Texas is safe from my depredations. With neither tongue-in-cheek nor sarcasm intended, I fully agree with Chris in that we need to go along with regulation for, among other things, the betterment of the image of herpers and herping. And so I go along. I avoid Texas. In the final analysis, I’m completely satisfied that the powers-that-be are pleased and that they don’t miss me at all.

PS: It just occurred to me that I could still travel to Texas and road-cruise to my heart’s content. I just need to do it only on those nights when the snakes stay home. I’m reconsidering the comment about time well spent.

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 29th, 2014, 6:51 pm

I know this discussion has derailed from the initial intent (I don't mind too much, since I've been fanning the flames myself) and I don't want it to get lost:

I think we can all agree that the main concerns, in the context of feedback from both LE and herpers concerning encounters in the field, are:

- standardized enforcement of the law (and working to change the law if we deem it NOT fair and equitable, rather than arguing with LE in the field, who are largely just trying to do their job)

- holding people accountable only to the law as written, not what an individual thinks is "OK" or not, or otherwise implied

- professionalism and courtesy both on LE's part as well as the herpers' part.

Yes?

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 29th, 2014, 7:17 pm

regalringneck wrote:... lots of us buy our own state licenses annually, so the idea that we're freeloading when we are photographing wildlife in another state (often while on federal land or a public road) is absurd...
I'm not following your argument, John. If a person buys a hunting license in one state, s/he shouldn't have to buy such a license in another? Or it's again somehow related to the fact that a camera rather than a gun is involved (even though it's the hunt itself that is licensed, not its outcome)?
regalringneck wrote:... It is also absurd to charge a suv load of college kids 100.- + EACH for the cover charge just to play, ... even if thats chump change for Dr. B.
These fees are all user taxes, the wardens function largely as field tax agents, yet we in the wildlife profession know anything that seperates young people from interacting w/nature is a bad long term strategy...
Chump change? No, I don't quite view it as that, but I can't help but recognize that it's not really all that much money compared to what we spend on other things, both in the context of herp hunting (for which more than a few of us will fly or drive across the country, rent a car for driving at our destination if we flew, pour plenty of gas in and put plenty of miles on whatever car we're driving at our destination, stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, etc.) and elsewhere (what do you want to bet each of those college kids you mentioned has the latest smartphone in his/her pocket, having recently replaced the previous model - which they also didn't have for very long - "just because"?). Heck, go to a fast food restaurant for a quick meal these days and it might well end up costing you $10. But a $100 or so license for a year's worth of herping is too much to spend? I don't think we're really talking about economic hardship here, I think we're talking about spending priorities.

I'd be happy to seek middle ground, though. For example, I don't like the fact that states commonly charge non-residents so much more than residents, so I'd be fine with seeing non-resident prices reduced. And I'd also be fine with everyone, users and non-users alike, paying more in taxes to support the resource (and you can bet I'm no flat-taxer), too, and I don't mean just to make up for reducing non-resident prices. I'm all for creativity and flexibility in getting the money needed for public resource management and conservation, but so far as I'm concerned basic fairness dictates the bones of the program I outlined above: everyone should pay something whether or not they use the resource, and if they use the resource they should pay additional.
chris_mcmartin wrote:I know this discussion has derailed from the initial intent (I don't mind too much, since I've been fanning the flames myself) and I don't want it to get lost:

I think we can all agree that the main concerns, in the context of feedback from both LE and herpers concerning encounters in the field, are:

- standardized enforcement of the law (and working to change the law if we deem it NOT fair and equitable, rather than arguing with LE in the field, who are largely just trying to do their job)

- holding people accountable only to the law as written, not what an individual thinks is "OK" or not, or otherwise implied

- professionalism and courtesy both on LE's part as well as the herpers' part.

Yes?
Yes. I've been talking about both how the law should be and how we should behave, not just how we should behave.

I'll add that being courteous toward LE doesn't mean surrendering your rights because they asked you to (or maybe even did a bit of bullying to persuade you to). Deny permission for a search without probable cause. Fight a citation you feel you were wrongly given. Etc.

Gerry

User avatar
PrimitiveTim
Posts: 154
Joined: September 8th, 2013, 8:05 pm
Location: Florida
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by PrimitiveTim » July 29th, 2014, 9:25 pm

gbin wrote:
regalringneck wrote: I'll add that being courteous toward LE doesn't mean surrendering your rights because they asked you to (or maybe even did a bit of bullying to persuade you to). Deny permission for a search without probable cause. Fight a citation you feel you were wrongly given. Etc.

Gerry
That right there is one thing that worries me. I don't trust LE. Why? Most of them have been cool and some even ticketed me for less than I was guilty of. On the other hand there was the one that violated my rights, cuffed me, and searched my car with no probable cause for marijuana after I told him he did not have my permission. Then had my vehicle towed all because I was driving an unregistered vehicle, which I had proof I owned and proof that I had just bought it very recently. At that point there was nothing I could do. If I resist arrest then I go to jail... which is worse than being left stranded on the side of the road. I know I was guilty and that's fine punish me for that but don't go accusing me of another crime. Judge let me off with no fines. All these LE wear a badge and I don't know the good from the bad. The one who hates life and the one who actually cares about people. If they're out there in the field or back roads with another reason to stop me for doing something harmless that doesn't do any good at all.

I'm wondering how many poachers do they catch in the act? It seems like they could catch wayyy more wildlife violators scrolling through facebook or instagram than patrolling back roads.

I don't know about Texas but I can't imagine any LE around here even bothering to know anything about laws pertaining to herps. From my experience LE is pretty ignorant about minor laws like this and game wardens mostly just care about game species.

Now Vic, I know you're an exception to my experiences but just because y'all get lied to a lot does not mean that everyone is lying to you. This is the mentality of the LEO that I had a bad experience with and when I told him I had no cannabis he didn't believe me and treated me like a criminal because he deals with a lot of scummy people. That is NOT OK! Don't you work with people that you don't respect much? Who are hard to get along with? They're representing you to the public so when you interact with someone possibly breaking the law just keep in mind that they've probably run across one of those unpleasant LEOs.

Here's my opinion on the licenses. If you're using your hands to catch an release something you shouldn't need a license. If you have a fishing pole, gun or snake hook then you should need a license as you're obviously actively in pursuit of the animal with intentions of capturing it. If you want to catch and release deer or fish or snakes I don't see why you should need a license. Although anyone that gets their brains knocked out trying to catch a deer shouldn't expect to get air-lifted out of the woods. They kind of deserved that one.

Anyway those are my thoughts and I know I'm young and not real learned like a lot of these scientists on here but here's just another perspective based on my experiences. Thank God I live in Florida!

Kfen
Posts: 400
Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
Location: CT

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Kfen » July 30th, 2014, 5:00 am

gbin wrote:
And I bet some of the people who don't manage to have a successful deer hunt think what they paid for a license just to try was excessive, too. The fact of the matter is that you're not paying for a hunt's success by buying a license, but for the hunt itself. Focusing on a lack of hunting success - or what happens to the animals turned up while hunting (e.g. whether they were bagged or photographed) - to rationalize not having paid for a license is just that: mere rationalization for misbehavior. That is my opinion. ;)

Gerry
Hunting deer and moving a snake off the road is a very different scenario. There was no chance I was going to physically take an animal out of the wild. Removing an animal from the population is the exact goal of people hunting deer. People going out to photograph deer (or birds or insects or any other wildlife) do not have to buy a license.

I would have no problem buying a license if I was going to remove wildlife.

User avatar
kansascrote
Posts: 64
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 2:29 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by kansascrote » July 30th, 2014, 5:17 am

When you have that deer shot dead, the game warden kinda knows what your plans are!
When you have that snake in your hand or on a hook, it's kinda hard to know if your
planning to bag it or move it off the road?
Besides, buying the license allows the state to have money so the game warden is there
to protect the SAME snake you wanted to move off the road!

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 30th, 2014, 6:35 am

Kfen wrote:Hunting deer and moving a snake off the road is a very different scenario...
I reckon you're right about that. But hunting deer and hunting snakes (even if you don't end up bagging a deer or a snake) is not. Focus on the end point of the exercise rather than the exercise itself all you want, but that's not what the law does with respect to hunting licenses, and I wholeheartedly agree with them.

Is anyone gaining anything from this repetitious back-and-forth?

Gerry

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 30th, 2014, 7:38 am

gbin wrote:But hunting deer and hunting snakes (even if you don't end up bagging a deer or a snake) is not. Focus on the end point of the exercise rather than the exercise itself all you want, but that's not what the law does with respect to hunting licenses, and I wholeheartedly agree with them.

If I'm understanding your position correctly, all the pics of Gila monsters or any other closed-season herp posted here should result in citations. After all, it doesn't matter if you have a hunting license or not when it comes to protected animals...

Some people share a Facebook meme encouraging people to move turtles off the road. It's illegal to do that now in TX. When this has been mentioned (I believe in the last round of TX legislative hearings, someone brought up that moving a turtle off the road was illegal under the new law), I think the response was, "Well, of COURSE nobody's going to get written up for that." Why not? It's nothing more than selective enforcement of the law, and demonstrates why it's a bad law.

Jimi
Posts: 1881
Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Jimi » July 30th, 2014, 8:24 am

I liked hearing from Vic and Bob very much, and also thank Chris for sharing the note he received from his LEO contact.

I think Bob is right about the potential for several threads or at least posts. I'll also add, in my experience Border Patrol has become the most professional LE outfit regularly encountered by herpers, and I *seriously* admire and respect them for that, being an organizational-change practitioner myself - but starting about 25 years ago I had a ~ 5-yr series of bad experiences and *really* did not like them for a long time.

They have overcome my former prejudice against them - they have earned my respect and trust (that they aren't going to sport-ream me). I still do not like to give them, or anyone, my precious field time. This contributes very much to my attitude and advice - "just buy the license, if one is offered - whether or not a minute examination of the rules shows it's required". It's relatively cheap credibility, and it will often make a law enforcement guy leave you alone quicker, so you can get back to herping. It shows him you're not a complete dissident (even if you're not completely happy with the way things are, which is not his problem or his business).

I agree with Gerry, about
1) everyone paying something (because we're ALL the "owners") and
2) "users" - which requires definitions to be written, work which ought to include herpers - paying even more (for the privilege of using other people's stuff, even if only temporarily). Like him, that's the way I think it ought to be. I - literally, not "literally" - lose sleep over the fact that this is not the way it is. Not yet. It will never be that way if herpers and all other wildlife enthusiasts won't get organized and start working to influence rules and/or legislation (depending on the system in your state).

And because some posts indicate the writers could stand to hear this again, I'll repeat something:
"Minor martyrdom" has little chance of doing much good, unless you're willing to throw down some time and money and go to court or a long series of public meetings, to try to get stupid laws or rules, or wacky interpretations, or selective enforcement changed. "Minor martyrdom" has especially dim prospects for success if it's being attempted with poor understanding of the realities of - and differences between - legislative codes, agency rules, and the vagaries of interpretation and enforcement. Do that, and your "principled stand" is reduced to just another dumb statistic.
My suggestion - if you think things are screwed up, learn how to fix them (the right way), and try to do so (Chris' route, my route). Or choose not to fight back, and just get over it (Bob's route, in Texas). Or, don't try to fix anything, and do whatever you like (take the passive-aggressive route), and be prepared to pay. But if & when you have to pay, when you've become another dumb statistic - please don't whine about it here. Just take what's coming to you, and think about what to do next. More of the same, or something different?

cheers,
Jimi

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 30th, 2014, 10:48 am

chris_mcmartin wrote:
gbin wrote:But hunting deer and hunting snakes (even if you don't end up bagging a deer or a snake) is not. Focus on the end point of the exercise rather than the exercise itself all you want, but that's not what the law does with respect to hunting licenses, and I wholeheartedly agree with them.
If I'm understanding your position correctly, all the pics of Gila monsters or any other closed-season herp posted here should result in citations. After all, it doesn't matter if you have a hunting license or not when it comes to protected animals...
No, Chris, I'm not sure why, but you don't seem to be understanding me correctly at all. You're still focusing on the end point of the exercise (something these people have, in this case photographs of animals they found) rather than the exercise itself (the hunts that presumably resulted in at least some of those animals being found and photographed, though doubtless at least some of them were found incidentally rather than while herp hunting, too).
  • - If folks are going out herp hunting then they should have a license where a license for such is required. (And in my opinion a license for such should be required everywhere.)

    - If they're caught herp hunting without a license where a license for such is required then they should get cited for it.

    - I don't know how it would be identified in the field, but if they're caught hunting for gilas or another protected species then they should get cited for it even if they have a license for hunting unprotected species.
I've never advocated chasing people down for pictures they've taken (unless the pictures show people messing with protected wildlife or worse than just messing with unprotected wildlife, i.e. obvious law-breaking). What I have strongly advocated is that people who know they're going out hunting buy the relevant license rather than make excuses for not doing so, and obey the relevant hunting laws rather than make excuses for not doing so. Yet again: A person buys a hunting license to enable them to engage in the act of hunting, not killing, bagging, photographing, posting photos to Facebook, etc. I really don't know how to be more clear about this. :?
chris_mcmartin wrote:Some people share a Facebook meme encouraging people to move turtles off the road. It's illegal to do that now in TX...
And I too think that it's wrong for that to be illegal, and I'd very much like to see the law changed (though I think people should keep safety a high priority while in a roadway). Of course! But as long as it's illegal, unfortunately I think people shouldn't do it, or if they do they should be prepared to accept the possible consequence of a citation for it.

Good post, Jimi! And I don't just mean this part, though I liked it best:
Jimi wrote:I agree with Gerry, about
1) everyone paying something (because we're ALL the "owners") and
2) "users" - which requires definitions to be written, work which ought to include herpers - paying even more (for the privilege of using other people's stuff, even if only temporarily). Like him, that's the way I think it ought to be. I - literally, not "literally" - lose sleep over the fact that this is not the way it is. Not yet. It will never be that way if herpers and all other wildlife enthusiasts won't get organized and start working to influence rules and/or legislation (depending on the system in your state).
:beer:

Gerry

User avatar
regalringneck
Posts: 563
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:20 am

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by regalringneck » July 30th, 2014, 11:31 am

Gerry, one of my central pts. was that any license purchase is a contribution to conservation, when i used to patrol the colo river, i'd see nevada, mostly calif, a few az ... heck i'd even see ut w/ powell stamps once in awhile; they all were good by me w/ w/o a "colo river stamp" if you can believe we even nickle & dimed that one ... & dont get me started on the 2-pole stamp; what a joke ... jajaja ...
Furthermore any & all attempted analogies (metaphors at best) of take & release angling to photographing herps in-situ are hereby rejected. Bird watching & playing a tape or "pishing" at birds is a much better candidate activity for criminal-tax consequence purposes ... now dang it where did that baldheaded potatoebugg go? : }

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 30th, 2014, 12:45 pm

regalringneck wrote:Gerry, one of my central pts. was that any license purchase is a contribution to conservation, when i used to patrol the colo river, i'd see nevada, mostly calif, a few az ... heck i'd even see ut w/ powell stamps once in awhile; they all were good by me w/ w/o a "colo river stamp" if you can believe we even nickle & dimed that one ... & dont get me started on the 2-pole stamp; what a joke ... jajaja ...
I get you, John. And as I said, I'm fine with all kinds of schemes with respect to the details (and I'm about as big a fan of individual states' rights to wildlife/wild lands as I am of a flat tax rate ;) ). What really matters to me is that we all support public resource management and conservation to at least some extent whether we make use of the resource or not, and that we support it to a greater extent if we make use of it. Oh, and while I'm dreaming, that we support it at an ample - not barebones or worse - level, too!
regalringneck wrote:Furthermore any & all attempted analogies (metaphors at best) of take & release angling to photographing herps in-situ are hereby rejected...
Which is why I drew a different, I believe much more accurate comparison above (offering the example of Cedar Breaks National Monument). ;) The main counterpoint I've made, though, is that the focus belongs on the act of hunting, not on what happens at the end of the hunt.

Gerry

User avatar
Mike VanValen
Posts: 2074
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Location: Connecticut
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Mike VanValen » July 30th, 2014, 1:25 pm

Not agreeing with the laws is one thing, but going out into the field without the license because "you don't feel you should have to" is just plain stupid. Buy the license, folks!

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 30th, 2014, 1:35 pm

gbin wrote:No, Chris, I'm not sure why, but you don't seem to be understanding me correctly at all. You're still focusing on the end point of the exercise (something these people have, in this case photographs of animals they found) rather than the exercise itself (the hunts that presumably resulted in at least some of those animals being found and photographed, though doubtless at least some of them were found incidentally rather than while herp hunting, too).
You're right, I am not understanding you correctly. To me, you are trying to regulate intent--we're venturing into "thought crime" territory here.

My scenario, worded differently:

1. I go on a hike in a public place, with no additional fee, permit, etc. required to do so (whether you wish there were such a fee is irrelevant to this scenario). I come across Herp X. Neat! I whip out my cell phone and snap a photograph.

2. I know there may be Herp X in that public place, and think it would be cool if I could see one. I go on a hike, again paying no additional fee, permit, etc. I indeed come across Herp X. Neat! I whip out my cell phone and snap a photograph.


To me, from a legal standpoint, I see no difference between these two.

I've never advocated chasing people down for pictures they've taken (unless the pictures show people messing with protected wildlife or worse than just messing with unprotected wildlife, i.e. obvious law-breaking).
Then why chase down people out in nature, in order to try to divine their thoughts as to WHY they're there?

It seems to me you feel people have a moral obligation to pay more if they feel they are "utilizing a resource" more than someone else is. However, I am attempting to frame this in legal terms (i.e. would a citation, or a defense against one, hold up in court).


Another scenario:

1. I drive down the road, see a turtle, think, "Neat!" and stop, whip out my cell phone, and snap a picture.

2. I drive down the road, DON'T see the turtle, and accidentally run it over.

3. I drive down the road, see the turtle, and intentionally run it over.

4. I drive down the road, see the turtle, and take it home.

5. I drive down the road, see the turtle, and move it across the road.

Now, what if, in the scenario, the person involved is John Q. Public, historically not a herp enthusiast? Does it change what you think about needing an additional permit for option 1? Keep in mind that Mr. Public probably has no idea there is a law against option 5 (or even option 4).

In 2, 3, and 4, that turtle (the resource) has been consumptively utilized, as shooting a deer does. In 1 and 5, it has not.

I think you disagree with me that there is a difference between options 1 and 5, and the others.

Again, I may be wrong, but I think you're saying it's more "morally correct" if John Q. Public takes a photo of a herp (or bird, or sunset) than if a person who purposely hopes/desires to photograph a herp (or bird, or sunset) does so.

In my mind, this is much different than someone who "hopes they shoot a deer," regardless of how avid a hunter they are. Both types of folk are typically equipped to do so (with a firearm, bow, etc.) and if the opportunity presents itself, they can consumptively utilize that deer provided they have the appropriate license and/or tag. In many states, once you "get" your deer (or more, depending on buck/doe, etc.), you can purchase another license (or tag) and harvest another...in other words, you pay to play, and if your luck/skill are such that you get additional opportunities, you pay even more.

I'm not debating what you, I, or anyone else wish people were required to do, but rather what they currently are required to do. I think that is an important distinction. You seem to be advocating a moral obligation on an individual's part where no legal obligation exists. I'm not making a values judgment; I'm just saying, to use a phrase I don't particularly like, "it is what it is."

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2427
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 30th, 2014, 1:39 pm

It is understandably more "fuzzy" a topic with herps versus deer, fish, upland game birds, etc. because you can generally catch a herp with your bare hands; not as easy with the other wildlife categories.


I don't want to give the impression I'm advocating VIOLATING an existing law, just because you don't agree with it. HOWEVER, if your activities violate no laws, you shouldn't be "guilted" into additional permits for expediency, or receiving citations.

User avatar
Ribbit
Posts: 601
Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Ribbit » July 30th, 2014, 2:32 pm

gbin wrote:The main counterpoint I've made, though, is that the focus belongs on the act of hunting, not on what happens at the end of the hunt.
A gray area here is the definition of "hunt". The definitions one finds in dictionaries range from "Try to find someone or something by searching carefully" to "Pursue and kill for the purpose of catching or killing". So depending on what definition you might be considering, taking in situ photographs may or may not count as hunting.

A fundamental problem is that in the case of herps, it's very difficult for LE to distinguish which form of hunting is being practiced. So I agree that it seems impractical to treat them differently from LE's point of view. But for, say, birds, it's pretty easy to treat them differently. I'm pretty sure no state requires a hunting license to go out and seek birds for the purpose of photography.

John

User avatar
infidel
Posts: 249
Joined: July 3rd, 2010, 6:24 am
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by infidel » July 30th, 2014, 3:09 pm

One thing that need to be made clear because I keep seeing, "It's wrong that the officer gets to decide who's violating and who's not"
One thing to keep in mind folks. Law Enforcement is NOT an exact science. The officer/agent on the side of the road has to decide based on his experience, and articulable facts present IF a law has been broken or not.

The problem with the law is that it is WAY too broad in it's potential definition. I've been told multiple times when asked about the photography aspect that, "well, if you interfere with the (snake's/turtle/lizard's) movement then you were hunting and must have a license, stamp and obnoxious bill-board sized reflective vest." I told an un-named Warden in Austin when I was down there debating Mr. Sinclair in front of the representatives that scenario was REALLY splitting hairs and kinda ridiculous. He just smiled and said, "I know, but what are you gonna do?" The bottom line with the previous crop running the show in Austin was that they DID NOT like snake hunters and didn't want us out there. It was very obvious and I could expound for hours about all the discussions I had. HOWEVER, it seems minds might be changing a bit and the new bosses may be a bit more receptive to a working relationship.

This being said, many of the "old guard" that has since retired (all three wardens that where there on the day of the debate with Troy Hibbits and I have since retired) garnered allot of their disdain for herpers in an honest fashion IMO. Herpers at times are their own worst enemy. As many of you know, I worked along side the west Texas wardens for a few years and even worked snake hunters with them. I can tell you from first hand experience that some herpers that we ran across were for lack of a better term, were jacka$$es. On the other hand, many were VERY cordial. The wardens I worked with (with the exception of one) were VERY professional and in MOST cases could have written tickets but opted to just educate the herper rather than issue a citation.

Think about this; when you get pulled over by a cop and he is some young, doofus with a chip on his shoulder looking to get back at the world for him being bullied in high school and he takes it out on you. Do most people leave an encounter like that with, "Man, that guy was a real jerk!" or are you more likely to read this on an internet forum, "Cops are such @#[email protected]!" <--Humans tend to paint with a broad brush.....The later is what I almost always see. Well, since cops (and wardens) are also humans, apply this in reverse. If a warden comes across a herper that jumps out of the car, starts video taping him, starts screaming, "what was your PC for pulling me over? Am I being detained? " blaa blaa blaaa. All the while, he was more than likely just pulling you over to check your license. Is that warden going to say, "man that guy was a jerk.." or is he going to say, "Dude, I hate herpers, they're all roadside lawyers that never tell the truth" .....Just like any other human, it could go either way but all it takes is a few wardens to make up their minds that herpers are idiots to cause them to fight us on any proposed law that would make our situation better.

It appears that Chris is speaking to a warden with allot of common sense and has no preconceived notion that all herpers are bad. I hope some doofus cruising the river road doesn't ruin that. That warden might be sitting in the captains chair in Austin some day...

User avatar
lateralis
Posts: 318
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:56 pm
Location: SW USA

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by lateralis » July 30th, 2014, 3:40 pm

This piece is pretty spot on in terms of where the culture is headed http://rare.us/story/bill-maher-slams-p ... ed-states/

luv_the_smellof_musk
Posts: 55
Joined: December 4th, 2012, 6:19 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by luv_the_smellof_musk » July 30th, 2014, 4:16 pm

Moving a snake off the road is not any sort of conservation strategy nor do I believe deterring people from doing so would or could have any population level effects. Not building the road through a truly endangered animals habitat would be the answer there, not a snake getting helped across one out of ten-thousand times the road is crossed. The worst part of the licensing requirement would be deterring youngsters from getting out and developing an interest in snakes. Personally, I think anyone under 25 should be exempt from such a license especially with the student loan crisis these days.

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2292
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by gbin » July 30th, 2014, 6:32 pm

chris_mcmartin wrote:My scenario, worded differently...
Sorry, Chris, but I'm not up for responding to an endless presentation of what ifs, and even less for indulging an insistence on focusing on the end result of a hunt rather than the hunt itself. LE might not always have an easy time determining it in all situations, but the person involved knows whether s/he is hunting and therefore obliged to buy a hunting license where such is required. You can (mis)interpret me however you like, but I believe I've made my view quite clear to most people and I don't see what I can reasonably do to clarify it to the remainder (including you, if you're really still so confused about it). Maybe Jimi or someone else will have better luck.
Ribbit wrote:
gbin wrote:The main counterpoint I've made, though, is that the focus belongs on the act of hunting, not on what happens at the end of the hunt.
A gray area here is the definition of "hunt"...
It would be, John, except that most (all?) state wildlife agencies take pains to define "hunt" or "pursuit" for the purpose of their regulations so that it's not. I suppose they're not always entirely successful, though. In any event and as I mentioned above, even if LE sometimes has difficulty determining whether someone is hunting, the person involved knows whether or not s/he's doing so. It should come as no surprise to anyone that hunting laws, as with other laws, rely to a large extent on voluntary compliance.

Gerry

Lloyd Heilbrunn
Posts: 282
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:15 pm
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Fl

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Lloyd Heilbrunn » July 30th, 2014, 8:50 pm

If looking for herps is hunting why do other states require a fishing license?

















:crazyeyes:

Kfen
Posts: 400
Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
Location: CT

Re: Game Warden Feedback (TX Specifically)

Post by Kfen » July 31st, 2014, 4:49 am

Lloyd Heilbrunn wrote:If looking for herps is hunting why do other states require a fishing license?
Or why is there no license required for looking for birds, trees, or flowers?

The answer is because the end result DOES matter. The problem is that herpers fall into a grey area that LE cant always determine what their intended end result is.
Enjoying a resource IS different than using a resource. I can go and smell all the flowers in national parks I want, however, I cannot pick them.

Lloyd, my post was not directed at you, your quote was just a nice segway. :thumb:

Post Reply