NJ pine Barrens and regulations

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ebit123
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NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ebit123 » April 12th, 2016, 2:42 pm

Hi, in the Pine Barrens in ocean county, is it an issue to flip or to handle any nonendangered species? (We would be in state forest or county/state parks). Also, I'm interested in Forked river mountain preserve, as well, but can't find much info about it , especially trail maps. Are there. marked trails and a parking area? Is neighboring private property marked?
Thanks.

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Jeffreyrichard
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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by Jeffreyrichard » April 13th, 2016, 6:27 am

I was admonished here (rightfully so) a while back for posting pics of me hold a pine snake ... so I believe that there are regs in place which do not allow handling most reptiles. Someone else here will know the laws better than I ...

I was told not to have anything remotely associated with collecting reptiles ... bags, tongs, snake sticks ... with me when I was down their ... we did flip, but used normal field herping courtesy of disturbing as little as possible.

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ebit123
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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ebit123 » April 13th, 2016, 9:08 am

Ok thanks. guessing about the pine because the pine snake is either endangered or threatened there.
We do have a snake hook in the trunk of the car I'll be driving down, so can just leave it at home.
But I rarely use it anyway - I guess more concerned about flipping and if we will get any issues with picking up nonendangered/nonthreatened snakes.

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cbernz
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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by cbernz » April 13th, 2016, 9:18 am

I don't know the specific laws that apply to the state parks, although it's probably some variation of the standard "no removal or harrassment of wildlife" rule that many parks have (I'm strict about non-removal; harrassment for me is a bit of a gray area ;) ). I can tell you that your chances of being bothered by anybody for picking up snakes down in the Pine Barrens is so remote that it's probably not even worth worrying about. Just don't post photos of yourself holding a pine or a corn if you do end up picking them up.

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ebit123
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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ebit123 » April 13th, 2016, 11:23 am

Ok thanks .

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ackee » April 14th, 2016, 7:46 am

Being on state land or private land makes no difference in NJ. The same laws apply. Do not touch or interfere with any reptile. It is against the law, endangered species or not. Photos are ok, but only in situ, and not involving any handling of the reptile. Collecting anything is forbidden.

The only exception are Snapping Turtles, which can be taken in very limited numbers for food if you have a fishing license.

The Pinelands have been badly exploited for decades, and the recent recreation popularity of the area has caused a slaughter on roads that were once only lightly used. Morons on off road vehicles are another problem.

Conservation officials are extremely strict, as are NJ laws. Hands off is the best approach. Sometimes I think the best friend of Pinelands reptiles are the great numbers of disease carrying ticks.

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by cbernz » April 14th, 2016, 11:48 am

ackee wrote:Being on state land or private land makes no difference in NJ. The same laws apply. Do not touch or interfere with any reptile. It is against the law, endangered species or not. Photos are ok, but only in situ, and not involving any handling of the reptile. Collecting anything is forbidden.

The only exception are Snapping Turtles, which can be taken in very limited numbers for food if you have a fishing license.

The Pinelands have been badly exploited for decades, and the recent recreation popularity of the area has caused a slaughter on roads that were once only lightly used. Morons on off road vehicles are another problem.

Conservation officials are extremely strict, as are NJ laws. Hands off is the best approach. Sometimes I think the best friend of Pinelands reptiles are the great numbers of disease carrying ticks.
I just looked up the exotic and nongame regulations for NJ. It is true that there are rules against possession of most reptiles and amphibians, but I didn't find anything prohibiting handling or "interfering" with a reptile or amphibian. Also, there are more species than just Snapping Turtle on the exempted list: painted turtles, garter snakes, bullfrogs, leopard frogs, and several others. As for conservation officers being extremely strict, that is absolutely untrue. Conservation officers have much more important things to do with their time than hassle you for picking up a toad or a worm snake. They also tend to have a pretty good sense about who is up to no good and who is just out to see some animals.

Yes, a lot of bad things have happened to the Pine Barrens, but extremely little of it has to do with casual herping. Equating the desire to pick up a snake with the desire to grind up habitat in a 4x4 is ludicrous.

Poachers do exist, however, so carrying a camera instead of hooks and bags is the smart move so you don't end up looking like one. Use your common sense, be respectful of animals and habitat, and you should be fine. Once you put something in a bag or box, you are definitely in violation of the law, but if you are wrangling a black racer for a photograph I highly, highly doubt anyone will care (if you should even be so lucky as to find a wildlife officer on your trip)!

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ackee » April 14th, 2016, 12:28 pm

Harassing wildlife is a crime, simple and direct. This includes picking them up. Remember the man who was playing with a rattlesnake in North Jersey? He was bitten, and when he was discharged from the hospital he was given a summons.

The regulations are much more complex and thorough than a quick reading of some fish and game regulations might suggest. Some non-native invasive species, like Softshell Turtles or Red Eared Sliders MAY not be covered, and you might win the case in court on these invasive species.

Habitat damage is also prohibited. Things like digging, stripping bark and chopping up decaying trees on the forest floor.

The pines are filled with poachers. Report them. I do.

articles.mcall.com/2000-08-04/news/3321727_1_harassing-bitten-wildlife for details on the rattlesnake bite.

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by cbernz » April 15th, 2016, 7:04 pm

ackee wrote:Harassing wildlife is a crime, simple and direct. This includes picking them up.
Can you show me where this is specifically stated in the NJ law code? I couldn't find it.
ackee wrote:Remember the man who was playing with a rattlesnake in North Jersey? He was bitten, and when he was discharged from the hospital he was given a summons.
I hadn't heard that story, but I read your link. He was given a summons because a) he was handling a state endangered species, and b) there are specific laws against harassing wildlife on National Park land. That's totally different from picking up non-protected species on private, state, county, or town land.
ackee wrote:The regulations are much more complex and thorough than a quick reading of some fish and game regulations might suggest. Some non-native invasive species, like Softshell Turtles or Red Eared Sliders MAY not be covered, and you might win the case in court on these invasive species.
I read through the Exotic and Non-game Wildlife species regulations on the NJDEP website. You can access theme here: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/njregs.htm#other This chapter covers possession of exotic and nongame species in the state. It gives clear definitions of "endangered," "threatened," "exotic," "nongame," etc. It does not give a definition for "possession," nor does it make any mention of specifically prohibiting handling or harassing wildlife. If there were such restrictions, wouldn't they be in this chapter of the law? I can't imagine they would have a whole separate section of the law book for "handling" and "harassment" as separate from "possession." In any case, it is quite clear to me from reading through the law that it is aimed at regulating people who are capturing and keeping animals (or letting captive animals go), not picking them up to look at them and take photos. The law lists the categories of permits they issue (individual hobby, scientific holding, zoological holding, pet shop, animal dealer, etc) as well as conditions for the care of captive animals as required by the permit, and a whole lot of stuff about the care of captive birds. I guess someone could argue that holding a snake for 2 minutes constitutes possession, but that's so clearly not the intent of the law that it's just really hard to imagine it happening. If you or anyone else can find another section of the law that specifically mentions or deals with the definition of "possession" of a nongame species, or the harassment of wildlife, I would be interested to read it. Obviously, depending on the ownership of the land you herp on, there may be specific rules about this stuff (certainly there are in state and national parks). In other states it's often a simple matter of getting a permit or fishing/hunting license, but I've never heard of such a thing being necessary here.

Also, if you read the law, there is a list of species exempted from the permit requirement. The list includes:

"3. Reptiles: i. American Anole - Anolis carolinensis; ii. Common iguana - Iguana iguana; iii. Boa constrictor - Constrictor constrictor; iv. Eastern painted turtles - Chrysemys picta picta; v. Snapping turtles - Chelydra serpentina; vi. Fence lizard - Sceloporus occidentalis & undulatus; vii. Garter snake - Thamnophia spp. (except T. sirtalis tetrataenia). viii. Tokay gecko - Gekko gecko; ix. Ribbon snake - Thamnophis spp. (except T. sirtalis tetrataenia).
4. Amphibians: i. Leopard frogs - Rana pipiens; ii. Green frogs - Rana clamitans; iii. American toad - Bufo woodhousei americana; iv. Fowler’s toad - B. w. fowleri; v. Bullfrogs - Rana catesbiana; vi. Red newts - Notophthalmus viridescens; vii. Dusky salamanders - Desmognathus fuscus"

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ackee » April 15th, 2016, 8:58 pm

There is a great deal of information available. You will not find it in regulations which apply to possession permits. These are (and it should be clear from the list you mentioned) pet store regulations and have nothing to do with interactions with wild creatures. These pet store regs make distinctions among endangered, threatened, etc., what can and cannot be possessed without a permit, what requires a permit when you purchase the animal, and what cannot be owned at all in NJ.

Interactions with native wildlife are a whole world of difference, and do not distinguish between public and private land, and apply to all wildlife, though reasonable discretion is given to enforcement officials.

If you need specific statutes, do your own research, as I did. I summarized the bottom line: hands off wild creatures.

If you choose go ahead and do what seems reasonable to you, you will put yourself at risk, along with anyone who acts on the assumption that you know whereof you speak.

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ebit123 » April 16th, 2016, 3:47 am

I think what cbernz is getting at is that, in the absence of a state field herping license (such as in Texas ) , there aren't specific state laws against picking up nongame species ...except for protected species. ... and of course, federal and some state parks (depending on state) , as well as federal refuges and private preserves will have regulations against this (but not always enforced, depending on location).

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by cbernz » April 16th, 2016, 5:23 am

ackee wrote:There is a great deal of information available. You will not find it in regulations which apply to possession permits. These are (and it should be clear from the list you mentioned) pet store regulations and have nothing to do with interactions with wild creatures. These pet store regs make distinctions among endangered, threatened, etc., what can and cannot be possessed without a permit, what requires a permit when you purchase the animal, and what cannot be owned at all in NJ.

Interactions with native wildlife are a whole world of difference, and do not distinguish between public and private land, and apply to all wildlife, though reasonable discretion is given to enforcement officials.

If you need specific statutes, do your own research, as I did. I summarized the bottom line: hands off wild creatures.

If you choose go ahead and do what seems reasonable to you, you will put yourself at risk, along with anyone who acts on the assumption that you know whereof you speak.
Where are these regulations? I'm not challenging you, I'm genuinely asking. I Googled "NJ wildlife laws," "NJ wildlife handling laws," "NJ wildlife harassment laws," and I either kept coming up with that NJDEP page, which I read through, or stuff about endangered and threatened species, birds, pets, animal husbandry, etc. I can't figure out what other section of the law would deal with this.

What I can tell you for absolute certain is that in my 27 years of herping in NJ, I have never heard from any researcher, naturalist, cop, ranger, or other person that it is against state law to pick up a snake. Out of the 15 or so times I've been reprimanded by a cop or ranger, they have always been about me being in a park after hours or parking where I shouldn't.

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ackee » April 16th, 2016, 7:49 am

When I started herping in NJ 60 years ago it was perfectly legal to keep anything you pleased. Things have changed. Most of these changes took place in the 80s and 90s. Laws and regulations became increasingly restrictive.

Picking up a wild turtle or snake is a violation of state regulation and law on several levels. That many enforcement people will not bother you if it's something mild and not connected with collecting is at their discretion. Technically, even moving a Box Turtle off the road is actionable, though nobody is likely to object.

The pictures of a Pine Snake on a Burlington County road I posted here last year were made without touching the creature. I scared it into the roadside brush because of the several Verizon trucks that were present only by getting close to it. I did not touch it.

New Jersey does not have either the obligation or the inclination to put its laws and regulations on the internet. Reliance on the internet, as if it were some master source of information, is one of the great follies afflicting those who have grown up with it. In fact, internet information is extremely shallow, confusing, misleading, and totally without any authority or force of law. it cannot be cited as a defense.

Ignorance of the law, as they say, is no excuse for breaking it (unless you are a judge or a prosecutor). The laws you are bound to follow are best found by reading the actual statutes, a difficult and tedious task. Checking the fish and game law violation arrests can also be illuminating. You'll not find these on the internet either, unless they created a newspaper story. Google, as I'd enjoy telling my students, is turning you into superficial people, perfect examples of the dictum that 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing', emphasis on the little.

I am not challenging you either. I simply summarized what I have learned in a simple injunction: 'don't pick up non-game wildlife in NJ, endangered or not, public land or not. This is, I'll admit, too sweeping a generalization. Swatting mosquitoes is obviously ok. It's reptiles and amphibians that have the attention of state authorities, some of whom I know. One was a former student of mine. They can be very reasonable and will overlook a great deal of harmless but illegal activity.

Consider all the cars on the Parkway driving blissfully along at 70 mph. No one really cares until you start to change lanes carelessly, or exceed 80mph. It's a realistic judgement call.

I started herping on my grandfathers farm when I was a small boy. I knew Kauffeld in my teens. I've seen a lot of change, and a heartbreakingly great deal lost. I mourn for what is gone, but I don't want to interfere in anyone's legitimate enjoyment. Just be aware that things are not as simple as they may appear.

In any case, I do not want to become involved in a debate. it's starting to warm up. I think I'll do some herping next week. Good luck with your adventures afield.

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by tabernaclegary » April 26th, 2016, 5:28 am

Hey John,
Long time, didn't know if you still visited. I understand where you're coming from as well as Cliff. I can pretty much tell you that almost all park rangers wouldn't have a clue as to the statues you are referring to and would most likely not cite you unless you were in blatant disregard of the animal. I would venture to say that most of the CO's wouldn't know them either. Just my thoughts. I think careful observations and minimal "posing" for pics as some do would be ok.
On a side note this year has been pretty fruitful so far.

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by cbernz » April 26th, 2016, 6:22 pm

I don't know if states have an obligation to post their laws online, necessarily, but they definitely have the inclination. I can't see what would be the benefit of NOT having them posted on the government homepage, considering the relatively minute space taken up by text files.....in any case, all laws and statutes are available on the NJ Legislature's website, so I did a little reading. Here are the sections of 'Title 23: Fish and Game, Wild Birds and Animals' that I found that pertain to this discussion (I omitted lines that don't relate directly to the taking or handling of wildlife):

"23:2A-3. Definitions
For the purposes of this act, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:

d. "Nongame species" means any wildlife for which a legal hunting or trapping season has not been established or which has not been classified as an endangered species by statute or regulation of this State;

e. "Take" means to harass, hunt, capture, kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, wildlife;

f. "Wildlife" means any wild mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, mollusk, crustacean or other wild animal or any part, product, egg or offspring or the dead body or parts thereof.

23:2A-6. Taking, possession, transportation, sale of endangered species or regulated nongame species
Except as otherwise provided in this act or regulations adopted thereunder, no person shall take, possess, transport, export, process, sell or offer for sale, or ship, and no common or contract carrier shall knowingly transport or receive for shipment any species or subspecies of wildlife appearing on the following lists: (1) the list of wildlife determined to be endangered by the commissioner pursuant to this act; (2) the list of nongame species regulated pursuant to this act; and (3) any Federal list of endangered species. Any species or subspecies of wildlife appearing on any of the foregoing lists which enters the State from another state or from a point outside the territorial limits of the United States and which is transported across the State destined for a point beyond the State may be so entered and transported without restriction in accordance with the terms of any Federal permit or permit issued under the laws or regulations of another state."

To get more details on "exotic and nongame species" covered by the statute, you have to go to the NJDEP:

"In New Jersey, statutes are implemented through rules that are codified in the New Jersey Administrative Code (the Code) (other states and the Federal government generally refer to their rules as “regulations”). The rules that are utilized by the Department of Environmental Protection and other environmental agencies are codified at Title 7 of the Code."

Chapter 25 of Title 7 "governs the management and harvest of fish and wildlife within the State:"

"7:25-4.2 Permit required

(a) Except as hereinafter provided, no person shall possess any nongame species or exotic species of any mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian unless such person has first received both the appropriate permit from the Department as listed in N.J.A.C. 7:25 4.6(a) as well as any other state, municipal, or Federal permits or licenses which may be required to possess such species....

7:25-4.4 Exempted species

(a) The following listed species of exotic or nongame mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians may be possessed in this State without a permit.

3. Reptiles

i. American anole-Anolis carolinensis;
ii. Common iguana-Iguana iguana;
iii. Boa constrictor-Constrictor constrictor;
iv. Eastern painted turtles-Chrysemys picta picta;
v. Snapping turtles-Chelydra serpentina;
vi. Fence lizard-Sceloporus occidentalis & undulatus;
vii. Garter snake-Thamnophia spp. (except T. sirtalis tetrataenia);
viii. Tokay gecko-Gekko gecko;
ix. Ribbon snake-Thamnophis spp. (except T. sirtalis tetrataenia).

4. Amphibians

i. Leopard frogs-Rana pipiens;
ii. Green frogs-Rana clamitans;
iii. American toad-Bufo woodhousei americana;
iv. Fowler's toad-B. w. fowleri;
v. Bullfrogs-Rana catesbiana;
vi. Red newts-Notophthalmus viridescens;
vii. Dusky salamanders-Desmognathus fuscus."

SO, after all that....

It does seem like NJ law prohibits handling or otherwise bothering herps. Title 7:25 is a bit sloppily written, and fails to distinguish between "take" and "possess" (although it does address scientific collection in the section on permits), but it seems clear that "the list of nongame species regulated pursuant to" Statute 23:2A includes basically everything except the handful of native species listed in "exempted species." Statute 23:2A is pretty clear about the definition of "take," however, and includes not only capture but also "harass" and "attempt to harass." That would make even "scaring (a snake) into the roadside brush" as against the law as picking the snake up, as the law is written.

I agree, ackee, that Title 7:25 seems to be written with the intent of addressing professionals (pet dealers, scientists, exterminators) rather than hobbyists. It's a shame the law doesn't add the few small lines of text it would take to cover herping activity more unambiguously. Being a huge insect nerd in addition to a herper, I know very well the feeling of being in that legal no-man's-land of pursuing an activity that the law hasn't yet really considered properly. Several years ago, I was netting dragonflies (catch, photograph, release) in a state park in Florida. Three separate rangers approached me, and the same interaction occurred three times. The ranger told me collecting insects was forbidden in the park, I told the ranger I was photographing and releasing, and he/she told me to carry on and have a nice day. I think they were on the lookout for butterfly poachers more than anything else.

As for the NJ law (and this is now an assessment based on opinion rather than citation), my feeling is that casual handling of non-dangerous nongame wildlife isn't specifically addressed in the law because the lawmakers don't really give a damn. I think they want the cops to be able to stop animal-related activities that are blatantly dangerous, disruptive, or immoral, and they don't really care about your everyday snake- or frog-catcher. In any case, if you are herping in NJ, the odds are very strong that you are on public land that is already covered by its own agency with its own set of wildlife rules. No cop is going to give you a summons for catching herps in your own backyard or in the parking lot at Wendy's, and if they give you a citation for moving a turtle off the road, it will be a traffic violation, not a wildlife violation.

Sorry about the long post, but I actually kind of enjoyed looking this up, and I did end up learning something new. For anyone who cares, here is the link to NJ permanent statutes - http://lis.njleg.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/om ... Frame_Pg42 and here's a link to the NJ Administrative Code - http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/njcode/

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by Jeffreyrichard » April 27th, 2016, 9:29 am

And I thought no one had opinions or passion anymore ... :D

IMO, and that's just an opinion ... if you are looking like you are hunting and/or collecting herps, you are putting yourself at risk with LE (and with other herpers too how may feel you are pouching) ... you are basically at the mercy of the LE individual who can choose to make your day unpleasant, regardless of the law. If you are just a nature lover with a camera, well then I would guess you'll have no issues

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by tabernaclegary » April 28th, 2016, 9:16 am

Yo Jeff how's it going! Long time, what 4 years at least now? Coming down anytime soon?

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ebit123
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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by ebit123 » April 28th, 2016, 9:42 am

Thanks for all the info...just wanted to update. We had a great trip and was very exciting to explore a place was new for me. If I ever move back to NJ, I'm moving there! Saw herps common for the area (but a couple firsts for us!). No real issues, other than my 11-year-old telling some teenage toms river girls not to hit their dog ("I have to speak for the animals!"), which evolved into somewhat of a drama scene. And then of course, did notice dogs on trails in a state park, unleashed...which I think can be more of an issue for wildlife than just some responsible herpers. But, anyway, great place, yes! :)

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by Jeffreyrichard » May 3rd, 2016, 6:39 am

tabernaclegary wrote:Yo Jeff how's it going! Long time, what 4 years at least now? Coming down anytime soon?
Hey Gary ... going fine, except for the herping (limited) ... I'd love to get down to Jersey again ... was in touch with Lt Mike about visiting this Spring, unfortunately too many job and house responsibilities. HOWEVER, if I can get some time in late Aug or early Sept I will try if guys are around.

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Re: NJ pine Barrens and regulations

Post by tabernaclegary » May 24th, 2016, 7:16 am

let me know if you make it down we'll get together.

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