GW: Well some mixed reactions to what I said. I am waiting on account activation from admin then I am going to chime in and explain some things.
Chris McMartin: Excellent. There's a broad spectrum of folks on the board, so there was bound to be a variety of responses.
GW: My old partner from out here just made a case on a guy that ran over and kept a canebrake in east texas. It's all about who gets caught messing up
Chris: Was it a herper that ran it over? I guess technically, anyone who picks up a snake fits the strictest sense of the term, but generally herpers don't want to kill their quarry.
GW: No just some guy. Said he ran over it. Was an OGT call. No way to prove how he attained it but he was in possession of a protected species
Cost him a ticket and 273.50 in civil restitution
Chris: I've never personally found one here in KS, but there is a population within Kansas City itself! A coworker found a dead one and brought it to me, and I deposited it with the Sternberg Museum out in Hays.
GW: This guy was just taking a "trophy" basically. No scientific or educational purpose
Chris: Did you ever get your user name approved? I assume you're still lurking and following the conversation...in my opinion it's been pretty passionate, yet civil--an unusual combination given the nature of most such online discussions!
GW: No it hasn't got activated yet. I was wanting to chirp in but I think I'll sit it out. All points I was wishing to clarify were mostly covered. Some comments were way off, others spot on. I'll see if this has made any change in the compliance rate out here.
Chris: Would you have to clear your proposed comments through TPWD first?
I suppose it would probably depend on whether you used your real name or not, or gave a "my opinions do not necessarily reflect the official position of TPWD" type disclaimer.
GW: Yeah prolly. I mentioned all this talk on the forum to my captain and he seemed worried. I told him it was completely anonymous, he said good. Haha
I don't need to. Maybe all this talk will cause the herper community to per say "police themselves" and think a little more about what they are doing out there.
Chris: Exactly...I've made the point (among other pastimes as well, not just this one) that self-policing is preferable, and if you're not willing to do so, someone else will.
GW: Yup. And a good point is that the stamp allows you to utilize the unpaved public ROW. No stamp is required for private property. It is grey when it comes to photographs but you can goto not needing a license to needing one in seconds by manipulating, impeding, harassing a snake in order for it to stay still for a good photo.
Hard to tell someone's purpose because a herper may just photograph most common specimens. While if the unlikely prize herp appears (alterna I.E.) they may just collect it.
The proof for us would be witnessing them picking up/messing with a herp. If they are confident that they are are not going to get caught then go ahead. I'll say that many have made that choice, whether hunting, fishing, or Herping, they chose wrong and paid the price when a Game Warden came out of nowhere and addressed the violation(s).
Chris: I tend to agree. I also have pics of turtles which were run over right in front of me while I photographed from the shoulder, because legally I couldn't touch them!
GW: Others on the forum question why an ornithologist or entomologist are not required to have a license. I think it tends to deal with that most birds are federally protected and the ease of handling without traps or nets is near impossible. Bugs are not a wildlife resource by state/federal law, while yes, they are very important to the ecosystem.
Chris: Falconers apparently have a stronger lobby than herpers, at least in TX. You ever come across the traps they use on the shoulder of the road? I personally have never seen one.
GW: Wardens have a lot of discretion. The culmination of the facts at the situation has a lot to do with it. Me personally I don't have much problem with parking off the road and moving a turtle across the road in the direction it was pointing then moving back down the road. You're right, turtles don't stand a chance on the road and too many find sport in hitting them in which there is no law against "accidentally" hitting wildlife. A deer is considered a far more valuable resource than a turtle, snake, toad, or frog. Now if someone tries to his the animal then takes it with them we have an illegal means and methods issue. TAKE being the key word. In my opinion, when a herper is road cruising and moving snakes off a public road (a public road with sparse traffic as preferred to herp on out here) the end result is usually a photograph or addition into their bag/container. All of which requires a license due to the handling of the herp. At that point I can usually articulate several violations. Hunt reptile or amphibian on public road, no stamp/invalid stamp, no/insufficient clothing, or hunt with artificial light from motor vehicle. Any of which that fits the bill.
When multiple violations are present a wardens discretion can tend to diminish.
I too have witnessed turtles being ran over. I was on patrol and saw a box turtle on the road. I turned around to look at it and had to wait on a vehicle to go by before pulling over by the turtle. The car I was waiting on ran the turtle plum over. I very much wanted to pull the sucker over but he had violated no law. The turtle was in the track generally traveled by a vehicle tire so possibly he didn't see it. People not keen on wildlife generally do not see wildlife that enthusiasts see with little to no trouble. At any rate, that turtle is dead and I have seen many more turtles on the road and in nature since. No real impact on the population occurred, and I imagine the mortality rate for turtles is far greater by natural means (I.E. predators, drought, disease, and old age). This goes for other herps and wildlife that is commonly found on public roads as well.
I can say that I would consider it a "feather-legged" citation to write someone a citation for moving a turtle across the road incident to them traveling to and from work or home.
Falconers are different. they are allowed to trap from the public roadway. They are also subject to yearly inspections of their facilities where they house their birds by Game Wardens. There are also not nearly as many falconers as there are herpers. I have never seen a falcon trap on the side of the road nor do I have any falconers in my county. They are also required to have many more licenses to be able to posses birds of prey. I would recommend reading up on the law regarding their practice and seeing the hoops that they must jump through. Be glad that herpers do not have to deal yearly inspections of their snake enclosures for compliance.
Chris: Excellent points!
GW: Thanks. I'm going to expand a little now that you have me rolling on these issues.
Chris: I encourage you to post this into the discussion on FHF--especially the bit about the falconers, because I know that has been a little contentious as to why they had a specific exemption from the law.
GW: When someone searching for herps moves a herp off the road it muddies the water extremely. The same way if someone who is dressed in camouflage, in possession of rifle, hunting license, coolers for meat and other hunting equipment had hit a deer on a public roadway would be subject to more questioning to find out if it was really an accident or not. I realize the intent of herpers is not to kill their quarry but the relation is that herpers are looking for an interaction with herps as deer hunters are looking for an interaction with deer. End results being far different.
Chris: I think these would all be excellent points to make in the open discussion!
GW: I dont think I am saying anything that would damage the department but i think I would also like to remain anonymous in this ordeal. I am not saying anything I wouldn't tell a herper on the side of the road during a contact though.
Chris: To get the word out while protecting your anonymity, is there anything from your comments here you would be ok (or not ok) with me quoting (without naming you)?
GW: Im fine with that. i know you will post them in a clear manner on the forum.
I would like to make another point that a herper told me during a compliant contact.
Chris: I prefer to directly quote (cut and paste) so nothing is "lost in translation" and it's clear they're your words and not my interpretation/filtering.
GW: During a contact of a herper, with a hunting license and reptile amphibian stamp who was parked off the road and walking cuts while wearing a reflective vest. I mentioned to him first that I was very happy with his compliance and attitude towards our check of his compliance. Then I asked him about a theory I had concerning the location of snakes from the public right of way, paved and unpaved. It went something like this: I understand that road cruising is a time honor tradition and probably the easiest and most enjoyable way to herp. I would think though that walking the ditch with a light would uncover many more snakes in the grass and rocks that are not spotted while cruising the road. The herper replied very excitedly, the people who are road cruising have no idea what they are missing! I ran this idea past another herper I contacted, this one not in compliance I'll add, he somewhat agreed but mentioned it may have to more with the amount of area they can cover. Valid point as well. My outlook on finding snakes is in college during biology classes we never sped through an desired animals environment without stopping, looking, listening, or examining in detail for the animal. Points we stopped were determined by interval, I.E bird counts, or by searching micro habitats which had favorable conditions for the animal. If I'm not mistaken, there is a very scientific purpose to herping? Yes, I thought so. Why wouldn't a herper apply their knowledge of scientific data collection techniques to the hunt for herps? I am not saying to park and walk for miles and miles. One can drive, park, and search. Then drive a specified interval or to the next micro habitat then park and search some more. Doing this would allow one to cover more area and be very thorough while maintaining compliance with the law. The mission of Game Wardens statewide.
Yeah do that I meant just give a little pretext to the issue I am addressing in the cut and paste segment. One more point and im done. a short one.
This is the definition of Hunt as defined by law in Texas: To capture, trap, take, or kill, and includes any attempt to capture, trap, take, or kill.
There seemed to be much confusion to that. And all these points, observations, and examples I've made apply only to Texas, and my opinions do not necessarily reflect the official position of TPWD.
I also recommend citing these laws and the faq. PWC 62.0031 http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/D ... /PW.62.htm
and http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/faq/huntwil ... tamp.phtml
PARKS AND WILDLIFE CODE CHAPTER 62. PROVISIONS GENERALLY APPLICABLE TO HUNTING
(2) "Open season" means the period of time during which it is lawful to hunt a specified animal, game animal, wild fowl, or bird.
Chris McMartin: I'll try to assemble all of this into one post to hang on FHF...I very much appreciate it and I think many others do as well.