S. Calif. trip

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Richard F. Hoyer
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S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 18th, 2018, 9:59 am

Each spring since 1993, I have traveled to S. Calif. with the goal of acquiring basic information on populations of the Rubber Boa. My first targeted population was the Southern Rubber Boa (subspecies?) found in the San Bernardino Mts. That effort took place from 1993 through 1997. That effort resulted in two published papers on the Rubber Boa by myself and Dr. Glenn R. Stewart.

While winding up my efforts on the SRB in the San Bernardino Mt., in 1997 and thereafter, I began efforts to record data on representative samples of the species in other regions of S. Calif. With having success in acquiring data on decent samples from the San Bernardino Mts., Tehachapi Mts., Mt. Pinos, and Breckenridge Mt., my priority the past few years has been to try to acquire data on a representative sample from the S. Kern Plateau.

My age, now 84, has been a handicap for conducting extensive searches. So my latest foray to S. Calif., from May 9th through May 14, could be my last. And despite less than ideal conditions for finding and observing many species of herps, this latest trip was very gratifying for a variety of reasons.

The best part of this trip was the help I received from companion herpers. Cary and Isaiah Fairchild helped with searches on May 11 and 13. On May 12 at the Flying ‘J’ truck stop off the I-5 Frazier Park exit, we had a gathering of the following: John Lauermann, Aaron Wells, Danny Lawrence, Robert and Nicolas Hess, Brian Hinds, Julianne Boardman, and Mark Buck. (Hope I didn’t leave anyone out.) I am very grateful for the help everyone provided that day and for the help I received on the 11th and 13th as well.

On the 13th, Brain and Julianne showed up on the S. Kern Plateau and with Cary and Isaiah Fairchild, we all had lunch together at the Fish Creek Campgrounds. Later that afternoon down stream from the campsite, we ran onto herper Dallas Jolly and his younger sister.

As for the herps observed, due to dry conditions beneath cover objects, I do not believe any salamanders were observed during the searches on May 10th through May 13th. Although some number of W. Fence Lizards were out, in comparison to prior years, encountering that species seemed to be sub par as was the case for both the S. and N. Alligator Lizards and W. Skinks. I do not believe any Gilbert’s Skinks were observed but at least one Night Lizard was observed on the S. Kern Plateau.

I am not certain just what species of snakes may have been encountered by everyone on those 4 days. But from what I believe I heard, the totals included the following: 3 Gopher Snakes, one Calif. Mt. Kingsnake, and one N. Pacific Rattlesnake. On May 10th, two bikers ran over a Striped Whipsnake (M. taeniatus), on the Sherman Pass Road right in front of me. Then up the road, I encountered a DOR N. Pac. Rattlesnake, and DOR Striped Racer (M. lateralis). I took elevation and coordinate records for both species of whipsnakes to transmit to Herp. Review editor Robert Hansen.

And with respect to the rarest of all snake species in S. Calif. and elsewhere (he he), there were 12 Rubber Boas encountered during those four days. And because a major phase of my efforts on the species involves mark / recapture, all boas were left where found.

As a bonus of sorts, on the night of May 12, crossing the Kennedy Meadows / Sherman Pass Road, about 100 feet in front of my pickup was a female Cougar and her three yearling, 1/2 – 2/3 grown kittens. The adult female staid off the road but the three kittens remained on the road for better part of 5 minutes or more while I inched forward towards them. Later, two adult Gray Foxes crossed the road as well.

One purpose I have for this post is as follows: Should anyone encounter Rubber Boas anywhere across the Southern Kern Plateau, please consider retaining such specimens and then getting in touch with me at [email protected] As of this past May 13th, I have now recorded data on a sample of 33 specimens from the S. Kern Plateau and wish to increase the size of that sample.

Secondly, there is a challenge I mentioned to the group at the Flying ‘J’ parking lot on May 12th. To my knowledge, the Rubber Boa has yet to be documented from the San Emigdio Ridge. That ridge of mountains runs east and west north of Frazier Park, Mt. Pinos, and Mt. Able. I have gone along the dirt road at the top of the ridge twice but found only one small outcrop to search. The elevation and habitat are suitable for supporting the species.
Should anyone find a Rubber Boa along the San Emigdio Ridge, please retain it and contact me.

Thanks again for all that helped me during May 11 – 13. Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

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socalherper
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by socalherper » May 18th, 2018, 11:49 am

Sounds like you had a great time Richard.
I am going to e-mail you regarding Rubber Boas in the PNW primarily the Olympia / Lacey Washington areas.
Thank you for your work regarding the Rubber Boa in your life time.
Tony Lanzi

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regalringneck
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jgunn : S. Calif. trip

Post by regalringneck » May 18th, 2018, 8:34 pm

Richard, you are such an incredible example of what used to be ( @ least in intellectual circles) typically american grace & class ... essentially european ... b4 the shaved heads & sleeved tats ... made "mad" cool. i am so sad you've had to witness the degeneration ... but you've never stooped (as i have) & like your classy raptors, to take on the dull & dimwitted ... the hoaxers & charlatans .. i salute you Sir in this last chapter of your life for your willingness to question, to challenge, & so gently ... & non confrontationally challenge the groupthink ... i wish my warrior heart could be as relaxed ... but we all come to the party w/ different skill sets eh ?
& in that spirit, ... & in the sprit of the creator iitoi ... i beseech the unwashed to query your name in the archives ... for a chance to learn ... & again shame on scott & don for letting those old posts "dissapear" tho i'd like to think i saved many if not most of your best : }
Thusly your txts will live on in my Charina folder long after we both chase your hawks amongst the clouds ... & it is available to some ... via p-mail

May you'r greatest lesson to the young, be to question dogma, & to learn basic wildlife ecology & dare to speak up in a democracy where free speech is given lip service if not standing.

I have learned much from you over the years & stand by for your final nuggets ... dont hold back my brother, unload it ... & I look forward to finally sharing a campfire ... if not here on this biosphere 1 ... surely up amongst the stars ... ever awed & ever respectfully, your student ; john gunn

Peace be with you & yours ... John Gunn


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKL4X0PZz7M

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 19th, 2018, 8:21 am

Tony,
Yes, the trip south proved to be very rewarding. The icing on the cake was having the opportunity to record information on three more boas from the Southern Kern Plateau.

Richard FH

Nicholas
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Nicholas » May 19th, 2018, 5:35 pm

Richard, it was a pleasure to join you in the field and get to learn so much again. After we parted ways, my dad Mark Buck and I found one more rubber boa at a different outcrop. I could send you the exact location and possibly identifiable photographs if you'd like. The challenge you posed intrigues me and I plan on giving it a shot. I also plan on making some attempts to discover rubber boas in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Until next time,
Nicholas

Image

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 20th, 2018, 9:42 am

Nicholas,
Nice to hear that another boa was found on Mt. Pinos on May 12 so that you were able to get photos of the species from that area. And yes, I can add the locality information on the boa you observed to my Mt. Pinos file.

The species just has to occur on the San Emigdio Ridge so it would be a feather in your cap it you and your father were to document the species there. I used the same concept of habitat association to propose the species had to exist on Frazier Mt. and in the Scodie Mts. Search in the early 2000s established the species does occur in those two regions of S. Calif.

Because the current irrational and reactionary CDFW regulations do not permit chance findings and collecting the Rubber Boa for vouchers in Kern County, a photo voucher with elevation and coordinates would be indicated for any boa found on the San Emigdio Ridge.

As for the species occurring in the San Gabriel Mts., over the years, there have been some anecdotal accounts (claims) of the species occurring there but no confirmed documentations.

Richard FH

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 20th, 2018, 9:58 am

John,
Off and on, I am reminded that we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

Having gathered a decent amount of information on the Rubber Boa and the Common Sharp-tailed Snake, much of those efforts remain in my files. I lack the necessary skills to treat such data in a professional manner then produce manuscripts towards publication. Herpetologist Dr. Robert Mason here at Oregon State U. in Corvallis, has expressed a desire to help in that regard.

As for questioning current dogma and conventions, from my perspective, that is an integral part of the scientific endeavor. To this day, I fail to understand why so many herpetologists continue to only use the Snout-vent convention when publishing lengths of snakes.

In rational terms, no one has been able to explain why it is more reasonable and best to describe less than 100 percent of a species which is exactly what happens when only publishing SV lengths in snakes. It is as if the tails of snakes are void of value and thus not worthy of any consideration.

Richard FH

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Fire Drake
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Fire Drake » May 21st, 2018, 1:50 pm

So I read that the boas in the region you searched (S. Kern Plateau) are a dwarf race that look closer to the southern boa. Did the boas that were found on these trips appear to support that?

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 22nd, 2018, 9:07 am

Fire Drake,
With the addition of the three boas found on May 13th, my sample size for the S. Kern Plateau now stands at 33. Thus far, the range of male and female lengths from the SKP boa population are very similar to the larger samples I have acquired on the dwarf morph populations that occur on Mt. Pinos, Breckenridge Mt., the San Bernardino Mts., and Tehachapi Mts.

The there female boas found on May 13th measured 11 3/8 “ (289 mm), 14 1/8” (359 mm), and 14 1/2” (368 mm) and thus all are sub-adults. So yes, the
three females fall within the range of the dwarf form of the species.

As for taxonomic relationships between populations, certain scalation features have been used in keys by different authors in attempts to distinguish C. bottae subspecies. At the present time, there is so much overlap in those scalation features between all of the above boa populations that the concept of C. bottae subspecies now lacks merit. It is my view there is no such thing as a valid subspecies in C. bottae based on scalation traits.

Richard FH

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Fire Drake
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Fire Drake » May 22nd, 2018, 2:37 pm

Very good sir, thanks for the reply.

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Fieldherper
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Fieldherper » May 23rd, 2018, 10:05 am

Hi Richard,

Long time admirer of your work and posts. I am wondering if you are aware of zonata being found on Mt. Pinos, Frazier Mountain, or San Emigdio ridge. They should occur there, and I'm aware of specimens from close to those areas, but I still haven't heard of a zonata from those areas proper.

Thanks,

FH

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 23rd, 2018, 1:36 pm

FH,
On the morning of this past May 12th. at the Flying ‘J’ truck stop parking lo off the I-5 Frazier Park exit, I believe I head one of the herpers present saying that I believe just this year, someone observed a Calif. Mt. Kingsnake on Mt. Pinos. But being 84, I could well be mistaken. Perhaps someone who was there will chime in. The only species of snakes I have encountered on Mt. Pinos are the Rubber Boa, Gopher Snake and Striped Racer.

I have not heard nor know anything about whether or not the species has been observed on Frazier Mt. or along the San Emigdio Ridge. As for zonata occurring close to those areas, a few years ago with the group of herpers making searches on the Tejon Ranch on the east side of I-5 at the 6000 ft. level, I am pretty certain a zonata was observed that day as was a Rubber Boa and Common Kingsnake.

Back in the early 2000s, I encountered a zonata on nearby Alamo Mt. due south of Frazier Mt. And just this past week, I was informed that a Ringneck Snake and another zonata were observed on Alamo Mt.

Richard FH

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Fire Drake
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Fire Drake » May 24th, 2018, 3:00 pm

Have any specimens of Rubber Boa ever been documented in Orange County?

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Fieldherper
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Fieldherper » May 24th, 2018, 4:28 pm

Thanks Richard,

Alamo is the locale I was aware of as well. Hard to believe that they haven't been officially documented from those other areas yet.

Cheers,

FH

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 24th, 2018, 9:03 pm

Fire Drake,
A Rubber Boa on deposit at the LACM, #2141, was found in Newport Beach (Yacht Club), Orange Co., on 12/6/1933 by J.C. Von Blocker. I believe Dr. Glenn Stewart or someone else believes the boa was from the San Jacinto Mts. and had escaped (or was released).

Richard FH

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 25th, 2018, 8:48 am

Fieldherper
Herpetologists at colleges and universities vary in their individual interests. I doubt that searching for and documenting the distribution of species is not of high priority with most herpetologists. And they are limited in time and money. So this is where the herping community – citizen scientist have begun to really fill the gap in identifying the distribution of amphibians and reptiles thanks to the efforts led by Brain Hinds.

A Rubber Boa was found on Mt. Pinos and taken to UCLA in the 1930’s according to Klauber (1943) but the snake escaped. And at the time Klauber published his paper proposing the S. Rubber Boa as a new subspecies in 1943, besides having been documented in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mts. in the 1920’s, the species was known only as far south to Sequoia National Park in the Sierras.

It wasn’t until Dr. Glenn Stewart found one live and one DOR specimen on Mt. Pinos in 1973 that the species was officially document to occur on Mt. Pinos. That same year, I believe Glenn and one of his students, Gary Keasler, officially documented the boa as occurring in the Tehachapi Mts. as well.

In the late 1970s, Gary Keasler and another student made searches on Mt. Pinos, Mt. Able, Frazier Mt., and likely elsewhere in that region. I believe in their first attempts, they failed to find an boas during day time searches but then encountered several boas on roads at night. I believe they were possibly the first to document the species occurring on Mt Able. But they failed to find a boa on Frazier Mt.

It wasn’t until myself and Brad Alexander made searched on Frazier Mt. one day in 2002 that the I found a male boa there. That same year, Brad, Robert Hansen (Herp Review Ed.) and others made searches in the Scodie Mts. Brad came up with a female boa which represents the first of the species to be documented from the Scodie Mts. A year or two later, I believe Brad was the first to document the Calif. Mt. Kingsnake to occur on Breckenridge Mt.

One of the more important lessons to be understood by the progression of such recent discoveries is that our present knowledge of the distribution of species is always less than 100 % and thus not confined to what is written in the scientific literature and field guides. The latter sources represent what was known at the time of publication but should never be interpreted as the final word as some individuals tend to do.

Richard F. Hoyer

Paul Lynum
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Paul Lynum » May 25th, 2018, 7:55 pm

Hi Richard!

Long time no talk! Our trip to the San Jacintos years ago was great. I had a blast. You damn near killed me in those hikes. I spent some recent time with Brian Hinds in the San Jacinto's. Which I'm sure he told you about. I would love to catch up with you soon someday.....

PL

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 26th, 2018, 8:33 pm

Paul,
May 1, 2003 I believe was when we met at the 1000 Trails campground in the San Jacinto Mts. I had submitted an application for an MOU with the CDFG along with a detailed research proposal in order to initiate a companion study of the SRB in the San Jacinto Mts. similar to the one I had undertaken and completed in the San Bernardino Mts. At the time, I thought it would simply be a routine matter to get CDFG’s approval. That was on of the reason for traveling to the San Jacinto Mts. in 2003 in order to get a better grasp to the territory.

But as I recently described to Brian Hinds in an email, then CDFG biologist Betsy Bolster in charge of handling such permits, did everything to scuttle my application so I just gave up. So when Brian and Jesses Grismer mentioned recent findings of some SRB specimens in the San Jacinto Mts., they only removed some tissue as it is my understanding they are required to release the boas.

So in effect, no base-line information is taken on the San Jacinto boa population. Such a position taken by the CDFW represents a wasted opportunity. I haven’t the foggiest notion why the CDFW agency leadership in the non-game sections has been, and currently seems to be so anti research.

At 84 and not really having a great deal of stamina these days, this past May 9 – 14 sojourn to S. Calif. may have been my last. So likely you need to come up to Oregon if you wish to catch up with me. Hah.

Best to you in the future.

Richard FH

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jonathan
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by jonathan » May 26th, 2018, 9:59 pm

Hi Richard!

A couple of us (the others completely new to California herping) arrived in the area right after you had left, but we did manage to see Brian in the general store before he took off.

Our main focus was salamanders, not boas, but it turned out that most of the roads into wetter habitat which we wanted to take were closed so the salamander search was cut short. Luckily we did find a KP slender only a couple logs in to the small bits of suitable habitat that were easily accessible.

With the lack of additional salamander habitat to search we did use our free time to search a little for boas, but aren't very good at it or were picking up after leftovers, so we didn't see one. We did see two night lizards, a skink, an SD alligator lizard, and the typical active lizards. Also a gopher snake and a DOR norpac rattler on the road on the way out.

Sorry to have missed you. Hopefully we can go sharptail hunting together or something when I come up to oregon next month?

Richard F. Hoyer
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 27th, 2018, 8:22 am

Jonathan,
Nice find of a Kern Plateau Slender Salamander on May 13th with conditions as dry as they are up there. Indicates you know how to go about making searches for such critters. I also came across a DOR N. Pac. Rattlesnake a few miles east of the Kennedy Meadow Road. Wonder if it was the same on you came across?

As for Sharp-tailed Snakes, my son Rich Jr. from Tucson and myself went birding and Contia searching last Friday. Came away with a Sanderling at the Philomath Sewage pond as had been reported by other birders, The we spotted a Vesper Sparrow in south Polk Co. near Airlie. The species is no longer all that common in the Willamette Valley so was a nice observation and son Rich got a good photo of it.

Then we did encounter 4 Sharp-tails. It has been dry here as well so none were found under the carpet but mined within the gravel piles I create for the purpose of finding the species.

Richard FH

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jonathan
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Re: S. Calif. trip

Post by jonathan » June 2nd, 2018, 4:18 pm

Yeah, slender salamanders seem to be our thing for sure. Besides the robustus we found a lot of campi (9), relictus (2), altasierrae (5), and wrightorum (8) on the same trip. But we could easily have been skunked in Kennedy Meadows, as we would have been if that one hadn't been under that one log. Conditions were definitely borderline.

I think the rattler was probably different because we saw ours on the 15th on our way out and it looked freshly hit. Perhaps mama had a litter in the area and they haven't learned how to look both ways yet.

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