Recently there has been some discussion on this forum regarding what is lawful or unlawful related to collecting invertebrates.
After doing a bit of research, I have compiled some related stuff that may be useful to this group because it applies to herps as well. Please feel free to call me out on any incorrect conclusions.
WDFW Commission declares that all species of wildlife, including invertebrates, fall under their jurisdiction. They also state that it is unlawful to take any kind of wildlife without a permit provided by the Commission. Because the state includes invertebrates in the definition of "wildlife," they have literally made unlawful, swatting a mosquito, killing a fly, exterminating body lice, the use of mouth wash to kill oral bacteria, the use of antibiotics to control bacterial infections, the use of mouse traps to kill deer mice, or the use of a butterfly net to collect butterflies, moths or beetles for a high school biology project. Permits from the Commission are not forthcoming for any of these activities.
Here are some quotes from the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) which are the record of all laws of Washington State.
RCW 77.08.010 (63) ""Wildlife" means all species of the animal kingdom whose members exist in Washington in a wild state. This includes but is not limited to mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. The term "wildlife" does not include feral domestic mammals, old world rats and mice of the family Muridae of the order Rodentia, or those fish, shellfish, and marine invertebrates classified as food fish or shellfish by the director. The term "wildlife" includes all stages of development and the bodily parts of wildlife members."
WAC 232-12-064 (1) "It is unlawful to take live wildlife, wild birds (except starlings, house sparrows and rock doves by falconers, and rock doves by bird dog trainers), or game fish from the wild without a permit provided for by rule of the Commission and issued by the director."
WAC 232-12-011 "Wildlife classified as protected shall not be hunted or fished."
Classified species are divided into Threatened, Sensitive and Other Protected wildlife. Zonata falls into the last category. Zonata is the only "classified" herp species in WA. However, that is sort of a moot point since NO wildlife can be "hunted" without a permit issued by the Commission anyway.
The RCW defines "Hunting" thus, ""To hunt" and its derivatives means an effort to kill, injure, capture, or harass a wild animal or wild bird." The Commission is given wide latitude in interpreting the meaning of their own terminology. The term harass can be widely interpreted by the Commission to include almost any activity an officer might want to use to harass a citizen out on a herping trip.
I tend to be a literalist when it comes to interpreting the law. That's because enforcement entities are literalist when it comes to interpreting the law. So when the law says something, it means what it says – literally – and when the law forbids a certain activity, it means it. When we have laws like we have in this state regarding wildlife, people are forced to either abandon their interests (in this case herping or scorpion collecting, etc) or persist and therefore always be looking over their shoulder. That's the ridiculous choice that our state forces upon people interested in field herping, but also butterfly collecting, etc. If pressed on the issue, the Commission may tell that you that the law isn’t really concerned with butterfly or scorpion collections and that you don’t have to worry about being harassed for that kind of thing. But the Law clearly prohibits such activities. This commonly used manner of state conduct puts the citizen in a position they cannot defend. Making a clear law that is then not enforced gives Enforcement the ability to harass citizens anytime they want by simply choosing to enforce the law when they feel like it. It’s b…s….
Unfortunately, it seems very likely that the Commission would interpret the act of looking for any herp or invert in WA to be illegal. Definitely so if it involved flipping. So, if stopped by an officer, it sounds like the correct answer would be that you are flipping rocks, boards and other cover while looking for shrooms (which requires its own State issued permit) or agates or something other than vertebrates or invertebrates.
How did things get so out of control? These kinds of blanket, ultra-tight limitations on searching for, handling of or collecting of any kind of organism are perfect examples of excessive government burden on the very people the government serves. By declaring it unlawful to hunt for, capture, possess or even hold in one’s hands any wild member of the animal kingdom, the state of Washington is discouraging the growth of the very thing, public support, that will be needed in future generations to support their activities and to protect these species and their environment. Damned be any youngster or budding biologist with an interest in learning first hand about their local herps, or collecting butterflies, beetles, etc, because touching them is unlawful. In a couple of decades, who will be the adults/voters that will be in support of protecting wildlife if as today's youngsters they were forbidden to interact with wildlife. I contend that such needed support will not exist.
The states of Utah and Colorado are two other states I have looked into in the past, and both have similarly onerous rules on this topic.
My two cent worth.