Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

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Frankvanbalken
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Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 15th, 2019, 9:45 pm

Hello

My name is Frank and I'm a herping enthousiast from Holland. Unortunatly herping in Holland is very limited so I have to use my holidays for the hobby.
Next summer we have 3 weeks in Utah and California with my family stopping at las Vegas, Zyon, Mohave desert, santa cruz, and yosemite.
I would love to see california kingsnakes, rattlers, horned lizards and actually as many snakes and reptiles as possible ;-)
I have seen a lot of good video's of flipping snakes or night cruising the desert to find snakes. But i also heared that july is the worst month for herping.. unfortunatly the dates are and we have from 15 july to the 3th of august

Can you give some advice and answers to my questions

- is it worth to stay 2 nights near Mohave desert for night cruising and early morning walks near kelso or will there be no activity ?
-which of the named places has the best chance of seeing snakes in july ? I will extend my stay at these places.
- is night cruising near zion (orderville) an option in july?
- is flipping in july an option or will it be to hot for any result?
(I will buy a permit)
- changing my locations to for instance Arizona is unortunatly not an option. I tried but the wife didnt budge. ;) The locations are set we can adjust the days we stay.
- is it correct that the only venemous species dangerous to humans in the area of my trip are the rattlesnakes. No corals so far west?
- are there snake and reptile tours in the area?
- any other tips are very welcome

Thanks for your replies

Frank

Jimi
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Jimi » September 16th, 2019, 12:28 pm

Holy crap, Frank, your timing is awful. For snakes anyway - lizards will be easy.

- is it worth to stay 2 nights near Mohave desert for night cruising and early morning walks near kelso or will there be no activity ?
Morning walks are always a pleasure. So yes, just from that perspective alone, it is worth it. You will see good birds and lizards and bugs. You could see snakes. You will probably be able to go crazy trying to track sidewinders. You may get lucky and see one or more, "cratered up" under a bush or even out in the open. Now, early-AM walks conflict pretty badly with ugly-late road cruising. Me, I'd skip the super-late cruising, and get out in nature. Early! Like, finish up by 9 AM, and get started a half-hour before sunrise. Or more - just substitute early-AM walking for earlier-AM cruising. Start an hour or more before sunrise.

-which of the named places has the best chance of seeing snakes in july ? I will extend my stay at these places.
Coast and mountains. Then high desert. Low desert is worst IMO. You can cruise snakes in the low desert in the hottest seasons, but numbers are usually reduced and man, you gotta stay up LATE! Like don't even start unti after midnight maybe - it's usually still too hot out. Clouds can help though - watch the weather. And also see below, about water.

- is night cruising near zion (orderville) an option in july?
Yeah, just not a great one. How late can you stay up? Ha ha. However there are some canyon-bottom streams around there where even mid-summer is chilly at night. One warning - flash floods can kill you. Kill your whole family. Pay attention to weather forecasts. Ask, specifically, about flash flood danger in that part of the world.

- is flipping in july an option or will it be to hot for any result?
(I will buy a permit)
Coast or mountains maybe. Generally though, forget flipping in July. It's really mostly a spring thing.

- changing my locations to for instance Arizona is unortunatly not an option. I tried but the wife didnt budge. ;) The locations are set we can adjust the days we stay.
If you've never been, I'd bounce locations every 3 days or so, and try to see the most variety. If you've been here before, honestly, I'd pass on the low, hot desert. Coast and mountains, man, coast and mountains. Maybe some high desert - say 3000-7000 feet elevation.

- is it correct that the only venemous species dangerous to humans in the area of my trip are the rattlesnakes. No corals so far west?
Correct.

- are there snake and reptile tours in the area?
Couldn't tell ya. None I know of.

- any other tips are very welcome
Learn the legal differences of herping here, there, or that other place. States all differ, anything called "park" is usually no-touch, and public land (BLM or National Forest) is your friend. So again, the principal components of "herping law" are 1) which state are you in (some require no permit, some do), and then 2) whose land are you on (usually there is no specific permit sold for this - usually it's "yes you can herp / no you cannot herp")?

Kingsnakes like water, and are tolerant of agriculture. Also, "evaporative cooling works!" Ha ha. My point is, irrigation (or natural water, like a stream or spring) in the low desert brings cooler temps, especially at night. So walking or cruising near water, and beginning at higher elevations and then working down hill as it gets later, will up your odds. E.g., start walking high-desert spring and stream-zone areas about an hour before dark. Natural water is good or even great for most snakes, but most do not like farming. Kingsnakes - common getula kingsnakes, not most others - are different in that they seem to like irrigated farming alright. My experience anyway.

Good hunting! Be careful, stay legal, come have a great time.

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 17th, 2019, 2:29 am

Thanks Jimi for your extensive response. It helps a lot.
I will get into the rules of every state en NP. Good to know.
And will definitly plan some early morning walks and focus on the mountains and coast and waters.

It is ashame we are there in the worst month. School holidays leave us no other option. Maybe someday we come back in the spring.

I tried searching for high desert but cannot find a specific map for Utah . Are there high deserts in the las vegas - zion - san Diego triangle?

Thanks again.

Any other tips from members or local enthousiasts are still welcome

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jonathan
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by jonathan » September 17th, 2019, 5:10 am

I've had great trips to the Mojave that same time of year. If everything is new to you you'll have a blast. Early morning is the best, personally I'd aim for lizards on the dunes and maybe if you're lucky a tortoise or a rattler. Chucks and some other lizards and maybe a coachwhip can be out even in the heat of the day, then I'd head to shaded rocky spots to see if any rattlers or gophers poking their heads out before dusk. Night driving in mid-summer is hit or miss, stuff might be moving but I wouldn't push it too hard if nothing seems to be out and you're not having fun.

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 17th, 2019, 6:21 am

Thanks Jonathan

It is my first time in the United States out of the big cities, so that will be an experience on its own.
I'm looking forward to the desert with or without the snakes .

And I'm also a big tortoise and lizard fan. A horned lizard would be awesome.

If I decide to go night driving, will there be lizards and geckos and maybe tarantula's around in July? This can make up for the lack of snakes :D

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jonathan
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by jonathan » September 17th, 2019, 9:22 am

I'm looking at my notes from a 2008 trip I took there that same time of year. Back then I knew almost nothing about desert herping, I'd been to the Mojave maybe twice before but just poking around, no one had ever shown me what to do and I'd almost never road-cruised in my life.

9am on July 25th arrive. Searched the dunes and found fringe-toed lizards, leopard lizard, desert iguana, and a long-tailed brush lizard. Lizards were active until at least 10:15am.

11am-5pm. Poked around various places during the day, saw tiger whiptails, zebratail lizards, and side-blotched lizards. Saw three chuckwallas in the rocks around 3:45pm.

6pm-8pm. Messing around climbing on some cliffs at 7pm, I run into a Speckled Rattlesnake.

8:30pm-10:30pm? I cruise a little bit that night, I don't remember how long but I wouldn't have stayed out there very long at all. I cruise a longnose snake at 10pm. Camp out for the night.

7am-9am on July 26th. Wake up first thing in the morning and hit the dunes again at 7am. This time I see zebratail, leopard lizard, fringe-toed lizard, whiptail, a desert horned lizard, and a desert tortoise.

9am-2pm. Driving through the park later on I see a Red Coachwhip fly across the road at 10am. It's already 38 degrees C.

I was super happy with that trip and I think it's fairly typical of the season. You may or may not see a tortoise, you may see fewer snakes or more, you'll likely get most of those lizard species and maybe a few others (desert spiny lizards and collared lizards are also in the park, though it'll probably be too late for collareds and you'll want to find the higher elevation hikes to get spinys). Unfortunately, the only lizards you'll cruise at night will be banded geckos and for whatever reason I personally haven't seen those in the Mojave even though they're definitely there.


I'm looking at another trip I took a few years later when I knew more about road cruising. It was July 2nd, so a few weeks earlier in the season. Walked a Great Basin Gopher Snake laid out in the rocks at 7:50pm right before the sun had gone down. Cruised for about 3.5 hours from 8:30pm to midnight and saw a leafnose, two longnose, a sidewinder, a speckled rattler, a DOR shovelnose and a DOR glossy. Once again, I was extremely happy with that night. The next morning we saw lots of fringe-toeds and 3 horned lizards but no tortoises.

So I've had two experiences herping in the MNP in July and both went great. I don't want to get your hopes up too much as maybe you'll only see half of much, but it's definitely worth going.

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 17th, 2019, 11:02 am

Wow thanks.. glad you keep detailed notes. ;)

You make me happy again. I am not used to seeing reptiles daily and I have had several holidays where i saw only one or two snakes in 3 weeks. So if i find half the stuff you saw in 2 days back in 2008 i will be extremely happy. I have for instance never found a tortoise..
My luck is perhaps that i have not experienced crazy snake nights or flipping dozen snakes a day. I will be happy with a lot less.. we will stop at Mohave for sure now on our route from zion to the coast . I think 2 nights . and do some early morning walks and drives to test our luck..
We could stay at yermo or at fort Mohave. The last is also close to Havasu NP. Any tips wich place is a better base?

Thanks again

Jimi
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Jimi » September 17th, 2019, 11:22 am

Thanks Jimi for your extensive response. It helps a lot.
Sure thing. Price is free - you determine the actual value. Ultimately, it's an effort & numbers & luck game. We all have a personal collection of anecdotes, a few have made serious studies of it, and if we all just pooled our anecdotes and studies, maybe a little reality would appear.

Bottom line - everyone who herps the Mojave has great trips and crappy trips. Even w/ great timing you can have a crappy trip. Even with bad timing you can have a great trip. Partly it's outlook, but luck helps. Ha ha.
I tried searching for high desert but cannot find a specific map for Utah . Are there high deserts in the las vegas - zion - san Diego triangle?
Yes, certainly there are (high deserts I mean, not specific maps - there are those too, but their discoverability is not great).

Maybe search for a map of "ecoregions" - e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_e ... ates_(EPA)
From there this might help:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mojave_Desert

The link calls "high desert" anything above 2000 feet elevation. I think that's from a more botanical perspective - personally I recognize the threshold a bit higher up, say 3000 feet. E.g. the elevation of Las Vegas is right at 2000 feet, and personally I'd call that low desert, from a herping perspective. High/low varies of course by local detail (latitude, aspect, nearby topography, to some extent longitude, etc). The lowest elevation in Utah is about 2200' and there isn't much of that (the bottom of Zion Canyon is about 3000 feet) - so almost any desert in Utah is "high desert". But in your trip we are specifically talking Mojave or perhaps also including the so-called Mojave-Great Basin transition zone (a narrow belt in Utah and far NW Arizona because of the steeper gradient, a broader gradient across S Nevada and also a narrow strip of E California because of the generally flatter gradient).

The desert appearing on the east face of the mountains running N-S between say Interstate 10 and the Mexican border is a transitional desert too - Mojave/Sonoran specifically. It's called the Colorado Desert (for the river, not the state). There's lots of fun to be had there also - for example i can recommend walking Borrego Palm Canyon (state park - be nice!), and similar canyons up by Palm Springs. These are low-elevation but because they face east (earlier shade every day), have high canyon walls, and have water in them, they "play" or "express" rather more like high desert, than the absolutely roasting flatter ground just 2-3 miles farther east.

North of Vegas (in Nevada) I can recommend North Shore Road and also the road from I-15 to Valley of Fire State Park. If you want to try cruising. Another fun area to try morning walks would be about halfway between Laughlin and Cal-Nev-Ari. See the mountains there, and specifically the springs on the east side - come in from the Laughlin side, and probably go out the same way. Over the mountain can get rough (or, beat the rental! ha ha ha). This area is more remote. Get a flat tire in summer, voila, you are now in danger. Have plenty of water in the car - gallons. At least 1 per live human, if you want to keep them that way.

Basically, if you're driving around and you see Joshua trees or blackbrush, or perhaps even a juniper or a pinyon pine - you are definitely in high desert, you rarely see them below about 3000 feet. Search images on Google, get to know these species as "elevational indicators". If you see creosote bush, that is mostly lower - it mostly fades out around 4000 feet. Also, lots of times driving around in the US you will see the occasional elevation sign. This should calibrate you a little. But the desert is studded with lots of little mountain ranges, a few of which have decent roads up into a canyon or two. Jonathan noted "MNP" or Mojave National Preserve (hosting Kelso Dunes) - there is plenty of higher ground there accessible by paved road. Personally I would recommend avoiding I-15 as much as humanly possible as sticking to e.g. Cima and Kelbaker roads, and anything you can reach from them. Google Earth is your friend, use it!

I only make the high/low distinction for you, because of your timing. Lower is hotter, lower is drier. Lower is more brutal. So the best time in lower might be April, but higher might be best in May or even early June. In July, not great (understatement...) almost anywhere, statistically speaking ("odds are...") you will see more snakes higher up (to a point - which before I suggested as maybe 7000 feet, and I stand by that). Yes you could see a snake in Yuma - the lowest of the low, besides the bottom of Death Valley, or the Salton Sea. Or, up at 8000 feet. But as a "friendly local" I'm not going to suggest that! Ha ha.

good hunting

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jonathan
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by jonathan » September 17th, 2019, 8:17 pm

Frankvanbalken wrote:
September 17th, 2019, 11:02 am
Wow thanks.. glad you keep detailed notes. ;)

You make me happy again. I am not used to seeing reptiles daily and I have had several holidays where i saw only one or two snakes in 3 weeks. So if i find half the stuff you saw in 2 days back in 2008 i will be extremely happy. I have for instance never found a tortoise..
My luck is perhaps that i have not experienced crazy snake nights or flipping dozen snakes a day. I will be happy with a lot less.. we will stop at Mohave for sure now on our route from zion to the coast . I think 2 nights . and do some early morning walks and drives to test our luck..
We could stay at yermo or at fort Mohave. The last is also close to Havasu NP. Any tips wich place is a better base?

Thanks again
I haven't stayed at either of those locations. The great thing about the Mojave is that it's in the middle of nowhere, and so I've usually camped practically right on top of the site I was planning to herp. Unfortunately though, that means that if you're not camping then you'll have long drives ahead of you either way.

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 17th, 2019, 10:38 pm

Thanks for the information. I will look into the places you mentioned and see if I can make a stop there. We will stay 2 nights near Mohave..

At the coast we will stay near moss landing. Any areas nearby that are good for kingsnakes.. or do i just look for grassland and water and walk around in the hope i see one?

Jimi
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Jimi » September 18th, 2019, 4:54 pm

I think Jonathan said and meant "the Mojave", as in "that desert". But if I understand that you misunderstood - it all worked out better in the end.

Sweet Jesus, Yermo is an armpit. I would not take my family there. I do not know the other place, it's in Arizona right? When I try to map it I'm shown a town south of Laughlin, near Bullhead City - is that right? Anyway, if I've got the spot right it's going to be hotter than Yermo because it's substantially lower - about 1500 feet lower. On average you lose 3 degrees F for every 1000 feet you go up. However, you've got irrigated fields nearby (good for cruising kings, and some night-time cooling), and you're not far from higher ground. I repeat my suggestion about the area NW of Laughlin, to get some elevation with a little water. I can also suggest the New York mountains as neat higher ground, also with a little water. I guess I cannot repeat myself enough - go up, and seek water. Ha ha. (Bring plenty with you, also.)
At the coast we will stay near moss landing. Any areas nearby that are good for kingsnakes.. or do i just look for grassland and water and walk around in the hope i see one?
I don't know the area especially well and I'm not gonna burn the locals by blabbing what I know (I trust the desert boonies to keep most of their own secrets, but the coast is different.) But in that area you will see grass, and fresh water, and walking around will be a pleasure. Watch for garter snakes and alligator lizards too! In that area, if you see anything flippable, flip it. Any time of year, give it a shot. Be ready to avoid wasps.

good hunting

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 19th, 2019, 5:29 am

Hi Jimi

Thanks for your reply
Jimi wrote:
September 18th, 2019, 4:54 pm

Sweet Jesus, Yermo is an armpit. I would not take my family there. I do not know the other place, it's in Arizona right? When I try to map it I'm shown a town south of Laughlin, near Bullhead City - is that right?
We will definitly stop somewhere near Mojave just because we want to break our long trip to the coast. I know there are not many nice places in the area to stay so these 2 options where the best. We don't have camping gear with us so camping in the Mohave like Jonathan won't be an option. The other place is near Bullhead that is correct. It's a casino with a pool for the kids so when i try my luck (not in the casino but road cruising :D ) they can swim. It will probably be a better option rgarding facilities than yermo even if it is a bit warmer. And its very close to youre suggestion near Laughlin.

For the coast, I know you have to be carefull with naming exact locations I definitly respect that. I wil just go with your suggestion and will search on google maps for interesting spots nearby.

I was also looking in to the permits I need. Law enforcement in the States on this matter is a lot more serious than in Holland and i want to do it right. I could use some help with that
I just want to search (including flipping), handle , and photograph the animals i find. That will be no longer than 15 minutes. I googled a lot but cannot find the exact things i need. Links from former post in this forum are also not working.

I will be in Utah and California and shortly Nevada. If i'm correct the following rules apply

Utah: There is no license required to collect or manipulate non-controlled species. Controlled species require a COR to collect that species, they also can not be disturbed (holding, manipulating for pics, etc.) for more than 15 minutes.
So this means if i don''t handle them longer than 15 minutes i dont need a permit in Utah? I cannot find any infomation about inside the NP bryce and Zion. Must i assume handling inside the NP is forbidden. Just pictures?

california
If i am correct need a fishing license to handle the reptiles. I wil buy one (i see i can get a 10 day non resident one, that will do the trick). i will not bag snakes temporarily. Just holding on the spot. Will i be alright.?
I cannot see if the Mojave dessert NP and Yosemite are an exception to Califormia state rules. Can i handle a reptile inside the park boundaries?

Nevada
I won't be in Nevada for long but are just at the border near Laughlin. I cannot find good information about licensing. Does anybody know the rules? If not it will be hands off in the short periode i will be in Nevada

I really want to know if the above is correct? Hopefully you can help.

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jonathan
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by jonathan » September 19th, 2019, 8:19 am

I can only answer on california regulations.

Yes, a California fishing license is exactly what you need to handle non-protected species. Protected species (such as the desert tortoise) cannot be handled no matter what you have.

The Mojave National Preserve doesn't have any special protections in that regard, it is perfectly legal to herp within the park the same way you would herp on other public land. We've had one of the managers in the past confirm that to us right here on the forum. However, some state parks are much stricter, so don't assume that same policy holds everywhere else.

Since you can fish in Yosemite, I would assume that legally you can also touch herps. However, I haven't heard that directly from any officials.

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 20th, 2019, 2:44 am

Thanks Jonathan

That makes things clear for California. I will ask for the NP rules when i am there.

Any other members that can help me with licensing in Utah and Neveda?

Bob McKeever
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Bob McKeever » September 23rd, 2019, 10:34 am

No license required in Nevada for field herping. A few Mojave Desert species are protected & can't be handled: Gila Monster, Desert Tortoise & Rosy Boa.

Jimi
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Jimi » September 23rd, 2019, 2:06 pm

Thanks for your reply
More than happy to try and provide help. Time will tell if I succeeded! Ha ha ha. Hopefully when you get here, there are not too many unpleasant surprises.


It's a casino with a pool for the kids so when i try my luck (not in the casino but road cruising :D ) they can swim. It will probably be a better option rgarding facilities than yermo
Excellent planning for family harmony! Trust me, the pool will be most desired. Hopefully it is not "closed for cleaning" or some such. Down low near the river in July is usually pretty much like an oven - impressive and a bit daunting for anyone from cooler, cloudier climes. Really really hot! The pool would feel great at 4AM if they let you in (but usually there are late-night closed hours for a swimming pool in American hotels).


I cannot find any infomation about inside the NP bryce and Zion. Must i assume handling inside the NP is forbidden. Just pictures?
A l ittle bit of US trivia that might prove useful - National Parks are administered by the US National Park Service. But NPS also administers areas with other designations, such as National Seashores, National Recreation Areas, etc. Some of these other designations, e.g. National Monument and National Recreation Area, are most often administered solely by NPS but sometimes are administered solely by, or jointly with, another agency.

The point is - true National Parks including Bryce and Zion National Parks are as you suspect. They are truly hands-off. Like, don't even flip rocks, stay on the trails, etc. Forget about picking up an animal! Photos are fine, as long as you ddn't touch, or disturb habitat like by flipping. However - those other designations - such as the East Mojave National Preserve - may (or may not - you have to check, but it is worth it to check!) allow hunting and fishing as long as you follow the rules of the state it's in. This is why you can herp EMNP with a California fishing license, following state rules for herping.

Here's what I found on the Lake Mead website:
Lake Mead National Recreation Area was established, in part, to preserve the recreational potential of the area, which includes the traditions of hunting, fishing and trapping. The harvesting of wildlife in the park is carefully regulated with state partnerships to ensure equilibrium between wildlife and their habitats.
If Bob reads this and is so inclined - he might be able to provide more detail. But absent his input - I think if you follow the Nevada herping rules, you are good within LMNRA boundaries. I only add this because before I think you referred to it as Lake Mead National Park". Which is an easy mistake, but still - I think - a mistake. Treating it like a true National Park could cost you some good herping opportunity.


Utah: There is no license required to collect or manipulate non-controlled species. Controlled species require a COR to collect that species, they also can not be disturbed (holding, manipulating for pics, etc.) for more than 15 minutes.
So this means if i don''t handle them longer than 15 minutes i dont need a permit in Utah?
Ah, as a matter of fact those Utah rules are changing January 1 (actually they have already been changed, but the new rules take effect 1/1). So please check back after New Year's for details - maybe wait until ~Feb 1 to allow all the required updates to the website (this may seem "bureaucratically lazy" but 1) not many herps are available for January sampling in Utah, and 2) LOTS of other changes have to be made to the website - there are only so many bodies to do work, and only so many hours in a day).

cheers

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 25th, 2019, 4:52 am

Thanks Jimi and Bob for your replies. I'm getting there.

In Holland we only have one kind of national park so I wasn't aware of true NP and national recreation areas.
Good to know.

I will look into the new rules in 2020 and see what i can and cannot do.

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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Jimi » September 25th, 2019, 9:42 am

Glad to help, Frank.

One way to maybe understand better, and also suffer less heartburn over "all those dumb rules and contradictions and general messiness", is to think of the USA as somewhat akin to post-Schengen mainland western Europe. But you should also think of USA as more like, oh, Switzerland than, say, France. Driving effortlessly - "no papers needed, mostly no checkpoints or anything" - across state lines in the USA can easily lull you into overlooking the legal implications of what you just did. All of a sudden, you may have something in your car that was legal to have a minute ago, but which is now contraband. All of a sudden, doing something which was no big deal - perhaps totally unregulated - a minute ago, now might be illegal (possibly VERY seriously illegal - jail time) to do, or might require some permission to do.

So for example you may find yourself driving south on I-15 (even though I suggested you avoid that, ha ha), from Nevada into California. You have some nice oranges you got in Las Vegas or whatever. California will take them from you at an agricultural inspection station a few miles into the state. Just an example.

Happy planning! I always enjoy this part of a trip - the anticipation, the research, the organizing.

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 26th, 2019, 5:41 am

haha.. good example with the oranges. Also a bit concerning but i get the idea. No fruit for us when we drive accross state borders ;-)

We will skip the I15 and go with the I40 instead.

Bob McKeever
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Bob McKeever » September 27th, 2019, 12:46 pm

In response to Jimi's request for some details regarding units of the National Park System (covers all parks, monuments, preserves, etc), I'll offer a bare bones reply. There are too many variables to give brief, definitive answers to all of the questions forum members may have. But, here goes. First, no matter the name of the NPS unit (park, monument, preserve, recreation area, etc), that unit is covered by Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations (36CFR).

I was charged with enforcing 36CFR for nearly 30 years but it has been rewritten since my retirement. I have read the current edition & although it has been reworded in many cases, the intent of the regs are as they were before my retirement. A second development over the past few decades has been increased use in each NPS unit of local regulations contained in what's known as the "Superintendent's Compendium." Each unit likely has such a compendium and it will outline local prohibitions or permissions related to 36CFR regs. (this is where you would find the interface of federal & state hunting & fishing regs, generally speaking).

As one compendium example: that for the Mojave National Preserve prohibits the collection of herps pursuant to a California fishing license. This prohibition negates the statement made earlier in this thread that you can herp in the Preserve just as you would on other public land. I expect that handling any herp in the preserve is a violation (to include noosing lizards, using hooks or tongs to handle a critter, posing animals for photos, etc.). This also applies to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, although that unit doesn't address the issue in its compendium.

A regulation that applies to all NPS units as currently written in 36CFR prohibits such activities as "flipping," although that term doesn't appear anywhere in 36CFR. Also, all NPS units with which I'm familiar require a scientific collection permit issued by that unit's superintendent in order to collect herps or most other resources. Which, to this former enforcement ranger, means that if you're caught with an animal in hand, or bag, or bucket, or whatever, you've got some explaining to do, and your explanation may not pass muster.

Now, I have several questions regarding what I've just said and some other questions relating to activities I haven't mentioned. I suppose some of the readers here do as well. I've tasked myself with coming up with some more definitive answers over the upcoming "off-season" & then to passing them along in the forum before the next herping season begins. that's pretty much all I can do for now.

Jimi
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Jimi » September 28th, 2019, 10:12 am

Thanks Bob. Yes, I'm eager to hear the results of your research. Particularly concerning MNP.

This could possibly trip up some readers - I will try to clarify:
regarding units of the National Park System (covers all parks, monuments, preserves, etc)
Don't read this as "all monuments, preserves etc ARE units of the NPS", but instead read it as "all monuments, preserves etc THAT are units of the NPS". Because there are a number of National Monuments, National Recreation Areas, etc that are not NPS units. Flaming Gorge NRA for example is a US Forest Service unit. Grand Staircase National Monument is a US Bureau of Land Management unit.

cheers

Frankvanbalken
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Frankvanbalken » September 30th, 2019, 10:05 pm

Thanks Bob.. it's complicated i see..
I will stick to my rule of just photos in NPS that is the safest..

For Mohave i am looking forward like Jimi to your research results.. I m not interested in collecting just a little handling... would be nice if i can do that with a fishing license..

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jonathan
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by jonathan » October 1st, 2019, 1:25 am

Bob McKeever wrote:
September 27th, 2019, 12:46 pm
As one compendium example: that for the Mojave National Preserve prohibits the collection of herps pursuant to a California fishing license. This prohibition negates the statement made earlier in this thread that you can herp in the Preserve just as you would on other public land. I expect that handling any herp in the preserve is a violation (to include noosing lizards, using hooks or tongs to handle a critter, posing animals for photos, etc.).
I looked for the relevant thread just now and was unable to find it, which unfortunately may mean that it dates back to before the forum crash and thus no longer exists. But there was a dispute between "hellihooks" and "klawnskale" as to whether or not you could herp and collect data on herps in the Mojave National Preserve. Klawnskale contacted one of the managers there (I think it might have been Neal Darby, the managing wildlife biologist at that time, but I can't remember for certain) to ask for his clarification. He stated explicitly that they love citizen scientist field herpers collecting data in the park.

I consider true "collection", as in bagging herps, to be a different question than herping. I am aware that some extremists go so far as to consider all handling or in some cases even observation or searching to be collection. But one of the managers at MNP made it very clear to use that MNP is not like that. Perhaps I stated it too strongly and if someone had specifically asked about equipment like nooses or hooks he would have answered differently.

Bob McKeever
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Re: Herping tips holiday Utah California in july

Post by Bob McKeever » October 1st, 2019, 9:03 am

Thanks for the clarification Jimi. I didn't make clear that my remarks were for those units of the park system administered by NPS. My plan is to include discussions with BLM & forest Service law enforcement people to get their perspective as well.

Jonathan, I imagine my views and yours likely coincide more than they differ regarding what herping, handling, collecting, etc entail. I can't imagine that citizen scientists collecting data would be a problem in NPS units (although I intend to cover that base in my discussions). The issue as I saw it revolved around being able to herp in the Preserve just as you would on other public lands. A review of herping practices documented by photography even here on the forum depict citable offenses in NPS areas. At any rate, I hope I can come up with advice for herping on these lands that will follow the intent of the regs as the people currently responsible for enforcing them see them. It's probably a rare personality that relishes an unpleasant law enforcement contact.

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