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 Post subject: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates, etc
PostPosted: July 14th, 2010, 1:47 pm 
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Location: Central Washington
Warning - Rantings ahead! :crazyeyes:

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.

Quote:
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."


Then...

Quote:
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."


And further...

Quote:
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.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws
PostPosted: July 14th, 2010, 2:04 pm 
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Scott,

Thanks for the info, and for bringing the topic up in it's own thread.

First things first, If you come to Spokane (or are already here) I am having you over for a steak and a cold one. I like how you think.

As for the actual issue at hand... All I can do ATM is sigh and think about something else till I gather my thoughts later.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 14th, 2010, 9:12 pm 
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I agree, the law is BS. If you want to get technical, it's illegal to move a snake off the road and out of the way of cars. However, the lack of any real pressure from herpers on the reptile population in this state is probably why this law has not been revised in so long to allow for the take of native species. It's as if we don't exist. We're as significant as a kid with an ant farm... We are not a well established group of "sportsmen", if you will. For instance, there are almost as many fishermen in this state as there are fish. Such a sport needs to be regulated. But of all the boas, Gopher Snakes, Fence Lizards, Skinks, ETC. in this state, how many of us herpers are there that actively pursue them? How many of us do you think are adept at locating them? And, most importantly, how many species do we have in this state that are commercially valuable? We are kind of a non-issue, it would seem. Which is fine by me. It does suck that pretty much anyone pursuing non-game wildlife in this state without a scientific collection permit could be cited for it at the whim of any DFW officer. But I don't think we should be up in arms about it, just yet. Unless the WDFW begins enforcing the law on a level that is unreasonable. Maybe this is already the case? I would be curious to hear from anyone who has had a bad experience with a WDFW officer while herping. Especially if their encounter occured somewhere outside of the range of zonata.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 15th, 2010, 8:10 am 
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I emailed WDFW yesterday and asked them. Scott R. I hope you don't mind that I borrowed a bit of your OP. Here is what I sent them below...

Quote:
To: [email protected] <[email protected]>; [email protected] <[email protected]>; [email protected] <[email protected]>; [email protected] <[email protected]>


Subject: Entomology Collection

To whom it may concern,

I would like to address some confusion regarding interpretation of Washington State Law and the collection of Invertebrates. Many people like myself collect things like butterflies, beetles, dragon flies, spiders, scorpions, etc. The law concerning this area is a bit sketchy.

Quote:
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."

Quote:
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."

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. WDFW Commission declares that all species of wildlife, including invertebrates, are 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 or personal home pinning collections.

I know this sounds like crazy talk, but that is truly how one can interpret our state laws. Please advise me on what the official stance is from the State of Washington regarding the capture and collection of Native terrestrial Arthropods/Invertebrates. If the term “invertebrate” only pertains to marine and/or aquatic shellfish then a revision to the legal wording needs to be done. PLEASE ADVISE.


Regards,

Travis Knudtson
[edited out, due to online access]

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This electronic mail transmission may contain legally privileged, confidential information belonging to the sender. The information is intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking any action based on the contents of this electronic mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this electronic mail in error, please contact sender and delete all copies.



I will post any responses I receive from them.

Cheers,


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 15th, 2010, 1:51 pm 
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Scott hits the nail on the head in the sense that these laws are enforced with the discretion of the officer. DFW officers in zonata range are well aware of their protected status, and their being sought after by poachers as well as herp enthusiasts. They are more likely to talk to you specifically about your violation of the non game related laws, more likely to ask if they can search your person or vehicle for animals or collection tools. As far as I know, there is no RCW or WAC stating snake hooks or tongs or snake bags for that matter being illegal, but they will definitely pay you more "attention" if they see you with these items as they claim those tools to be "collection" tools. I have been talked to outside of zonata range about it being illegal to touch reptiles, but it was in a state park, and the ranger was using the state park approach, which technically he was correct, but when I asked him, verbatim, "So I can't save a gopher snake off of this main road from being flattened like the 3 I have already seen dead this morning, but you aren't saying anything to the people who purposely swerved to hit the last one, and almost hit me in the process, and you also aren't posting signs about the high snake activity and to watch how you drive, or doing anything else to protect the animals? It's more important to you to harass me about trying to save these animals? How does that make sense?" He didn't have any response to me other than, you're harassing wildlife, it doesn't matter why you're doing it. I said, do you think if a snake could talk he'd consider what I am doing more or less "harassing" than being ran over or smashed by a scared hiker? He just repeated, it's not a matter of the lesser of two evils... I laughed and said oh I am being evil now? He told me if he saw me with a snake hook again he'd kick me out of the park forever (which they CAN do) I didn't see a point in arguing any more.

Another time I was herping and had a WDFW issue, I was in an area closed for winter for elk herds. I ignored the hand written non WDFW issued sign on the gate, and entered the area which I have herped numerous times. I went in on April 30th and the area opened to the public on May 1st, and I hadn't seen any elf activity there in over a month. I ended up getting cited a criminal tresspassing ticket more or less, for entering DFW land closed to the public. They didn't care that I admitted to picking up and posing snakes for pictures, or that i was there as a DFW volunteer doing "survey" work and that my photos were being submitted to a person who works for DFW and is working on a revised reptiles and amphibians of Wa. St. book. After 2 weeks of stress and phone calls, the DA office for Yakima county decided to drop the charge and not require me to appear in court due to the evidence I presented over the phone as a volunteer, and that I would bring photographs of the sign in question that I had ignored. It was too close of a call to end up with a criminal charge on my record, and I am a bit more cautious where I herp, or make sure I am with DFW people.

In the end, we need to try and take the upper road, work with them as much as possible, so we aren't giving true herpers and nature enthusiasts a bad name. The problem is they lump herpers in with poachers, like we are taking everything we find. Please remember there ARE WDFW officials who have proposed solutions, and the state just thinks it would be too expensive to change the laws, even though we could provide FREE population reports, areas of special concern, distribution maps, etc. and Even propose a permit or license similar to states like Cali, that would create revenue for the state. The people in charge of allowing these changes just don't care enough. We need more reptile geared minds in the department, to make it to positions with power and control, it's just not that simple. Not everyone in the department is against us, otherwise there wouldn't be herp related programs and surveys that I am helping with that have earned me a possible way in down the road. Try to be respectful if you are questioned about herps. I am not saying you need to bend over and let them search you or your car, and don't let them "confiscate" your herping equipment, but protect yourself by not taking pictures of yourself handling snakes, or having any animals on you you'd think they are going to cite you for. As mentioned, I highly doubt anyone will EVER get cited for having a scorpion in a container, or a frog in a jar, or a garter snake in a bag, but give me a break... Don't get caught with a trunk full of animals, because that IS poaching, unless you have a scientific purpose, and in that case, you should have or be on a scientific collection permit for that species. I am leaving work now, so I might add to this later.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 15th, 2010, 3:41 pm 
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Just got this response from WDFW;

Quote:
I have forwarded your e-mail to our scientific collection permit person in Olympia for a response. You should hear soon.

Mary Snell, Customer Service Specialist
WDFW - Region One
2315 N Discovery Place
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
509 892 1001 ph
509 921 2440 fax


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 15th, 2010, 4:37 pm 
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Talk to Josh Wallace about that, he occasionally works for them out of the Olympia office, most of the people I know are down there. Let us know if someone responds.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 16th, 2010, 6:42 am 
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AndyO'Connor wrote:
Talk to Josh Wallace about that, he occasionally works for them out of the Olympia office, most of the people I know are down there. Let us know if someone responds.


Will do, even if it is a cheap "The WDFW doesn't really care about insect collection". If that is the case I am going to be a 'pest' cause as is pointed out above that is not what the law says.

Guys,

Is there anything you think/know we can do to help get it 'legal' to herp in WA? Lets bounce some ideas off of each other.

Cheers,


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 16th, 2010, 4:08 pm 
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I recieved this at 2:33pm

Quote:
From: Gadwa, David L (DFW)
Sent: Friday, July 16, 2010 7:33 AM
To: Team Spokane (DFW); '[email protected]'
Cc: Stedman, Carol (DFW); Creekpaum, Marjorie L (DFW); Baker, Bruce M (DFW); Preuss, Lori (DFW)
Subject: RE: Entomology Collection

Persons who collect fish and wildlife –including insects are supposed to obtain a Washington Scientific Collector Permit and we are issuing SCP’s for these species as well as marine invertebrates, benthic macroinvertebrates and virtually any species you can think of.

Seriously doubt that anyone will get a ticket for swatting a mosquito or using mouthwash. Exception taken for a person swatting at the mosquito on an officer’s ear with a baseball bat, or spitting his/her mouthwash on an officer’s badge.

To obtain a SCP, WDFW requires:

1. A completed SCP application (WORD version attached)
2. A Study Plan describing the planned collection effort (described in the application INSTRUCTIONS)
3. $12 application fee

Suggest that WDFW Enforcement be solicited for their views.

Dave Gadwa, WDFQW Licensing
Special Permits
360 902-2473
David>[email protected]
From: Team Spokane (DFW)
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 4:18 PM
To: Gadwa, David L (DFW)
Subject: FW: Entomology Collection

Could you respond to this person and cc [email protected] ? Thank you. (Or refer to correct person in Oly)


Mary Snell, Customer Service Specialist
WDFW - Region One
2315 N Discovery Place
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
509 892 1001 ph
509 921 2440 fax


Here is what was attached,

Quote:
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image


OK, guys this reply makes my head hurt. Any of you want to contribute some good ideas for a response on Monday?

Cheers,


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 16th, 2010, 4:35 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:11 pm
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Location: Arcata CA
You can't collect anything from Washington and be legal about it that is what it says hell i might be kissing rattlesnakes if i could not understand that document. Your not a scientist so you can't get a collection permit so you can not collect within the law. DEAL WITH IT :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 16th, 2010, 5:04 pm 
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I am at a loss for words :crazyeyes: :x


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 16th, 2010, 5:38 pm 
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I want to make it clear that this thread is not about bashing WDFW. Everybody seems to know that. WDFW has a job to do and they are working under orders from their superiors. So this really isn't about the WDFW commission. The beef is with THE LAW and the persons involved with proposing and writing and passing the laws. I would hope that the members of WDFW that have any input into legislation would be working from a position of knowledge about the actual facts. Somehow we have found ourselves in a state that mysteriously had some of the most restrictive laws already on the books before there was any need for them. I am not aware that WA has had a history of herp harassment or poaching that needed to be resolved with restrictive laws. Do-gooders with too much idealism got in the law-making loop and decided to sew things up with blanket prohibitions before anyone could dissent.

I can't speak for everyone, but I think it is important to note that most or all of us have no interest in collecting herps. I don't collect. Herpers are like birders (I am a birder too) who are intrigued with the wonderful species around us. We want to see and learn about them. With birds, have a pair of binocs and a good set of ears, and you can identify 99+ percent of the species without touching them. But with herps you may need to look under items of cover or slog through a stream or marsh, and then (want to) hold the creature in your grimy little hands to get a good ID or (want to) move it to a more photogenic position to get a nicer photo. So my main beef is with the law's prohibition of handling (aka harassing). Most of our herp species are not desired by collectors anyway, so the State's concern about pressure from collecting is not based on the facts. I'll bet there aren't even 20 herpers who have real interest enough to spend time in the field in WA. That's certainly no kind of pressure on the herp populations. Everyone that I know is responsible in their herping efforts.

By the way, I understand there was a fellow in Ellensburg back in the 90s who had a collection of zonatas from sources outside WA. WDFW reportedly found out about him and was going to prosecute for holding a species that was native to WA if he did not get rid of the collection. I would like to know if there are any additional details known about this incident. But if true, it is pretty ridiculous for the State to ban ownership of Zs in WA just because Enforcement couldn't discern the difference between Zs from WA and CA. It indeed may not be possible to know CA from WA, but that kind of problem is for the State to solve, not to place a ban on ownership of Zs (which is legal BTW in ALL other states) simply because they find Z ID problematic for themselves.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 17th, 2010, 10:06 am 
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Sean Lundy wrote:
You can't collect anything from Washington and be legal about it that is what it says hell i might be kissing rattlesnakes if i could not understand that document. Your not a scientist so you can't get a collection permit so you can not collect within the law. DEAL WITH IT :twisted:


Cute... ;)

Yeah, it is blatantly obvious that WDFW has jurisdiction over every 'living' organism within the state of Washington. Which in my opinion is a gross overstep of power in this context. If the rules/regs were appropriate then I wouldn't have a problem or at least as much a problem with the extent of their potential legal reach, but as we can all see there is no room for any living wild organism to be interacted with unless you are a WDFW officer, scientist/researcher/affiliated with an 'educational institution'-museum-aquarium-zoo and then have an accepted SCP. 99%+ of the population will not fit the above criteria which is a shame.

I don't think I will ever say anything like this again, but I wish we were a little more like California. I know we need to protect our native species but at what cost? I like to follow the law but this issue isn't even logistically enforceable and the statements of "no one cares if....." is not good enough. My kids go to the lake and catch a snake or anything fauna and they are breaking the law. That is not right! Especially if said wildlife is not threatened, I am doing everything I can to educate ecologically responsible and aware young people. My task is rather complicated giving the current legal format. The law needs to be revised and updated to serve state ecology as well as the residents of WA.

I think it is rather logical to conclude that if 'everyone' was to follow these laws it would end up creating a population that neither cared nor understood the value of the wildlife or the habitat that is crucial for healthy populations for generations to come. A good example is my own town, Liberty Lake, WA, which is expanding both commercial and residential building and pushing out gopher snakes and rubber boas not to mention a whole slew of other species. I know a kid that found a fresh born C. bottae in an area that will be filled with houses and streets in the next 32 months. I am probably the only person in my area that even cares this specialized habitat is going to be lost forever. Also now that I know C. bottae are found in this area I am going to knowingly break WA State Law and see just how large of a population is within walking distance to my own home and if I must make a stink with the city to redistribute displaced wildlife.

I want to tell David Gadwa w/WDFW thanks for the help in sending me an SCP that I will never meet qualifications for, as I am not planning a career change at this time. I am not sure what WDFW Enforcement will tell me regarding this issue but I imagine it will be something like we will not bother you if. That is not right because that is picking and choosing when to enforce the law, which brings up other legal issues in my mind.

That's it for now. I am going to take the kids out for a walk and see if we can find any C. bottae, but don't worry we won't touch anything or step on any invertebrates. I hope my daughter doesn't pick up a tiger beetle or lady bug cause I will have to inform her that she is a law breaker.

Cheers,


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 18th, 2010, 6:01 am 
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Yep, it is a bad law, and it discourages interest. That bug collection we were required to make when I was in the seventh grade was illegal, and they are probably still doing that. One has to wonder what the heck was going through the minds of legislators when they came up with or copied that one. Since it passed it has been all about selective enforcement, which can be a bad thing. Recently they took it one further with a statewide ban on keeping venomous snakes- an utterly useless law.

I can't really see them going the way of California or Arizona when it comes to herps, there just is not enough interest in herps from this state.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 18th, 2010, 10:39 am 
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M Wolverton wrote:

I can't really see them going the way of California or Arizona when it comes to herps, there just is not enough interest in herps from this state.



I agree. It's unfortunate. And California has some of the most restrictive laws relating to the environment in the world. Yet somehow their herping related laws are much more reasonable than ours.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 19th, 2010, 9:26 am 
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My response to David G.

Quote:
Dear David,

Thanks for the help in forwarding me a SCP. Unfortunately I will never meet the qualifications for said permit as I am not currently planning on a career change at this time. I am not sure what WDFW Enforcement would tell me regarding this issue, but I imagine it will be something like “We will not bother you if/for…”. That is not right because that is picking and choosing when to enforce the law, which brings up other legal issues in my mind. Selective enforcement of the law is bad practice in my opinion. A blanket law that people get told you are fine breaking leaves persons that want to be lawful in a legal grey zone.

I recently went to a state park for a camping trip (before I dove into this issue with persons that like to find, photograph, and document Reptiles) looking for scorpions specifically but also other invertebrates in the area. I ran into a couple WDFW officers that didn’t know there were scorpions out there. I showed them Paruroctonus boreus and discussed with them that most people aren’t even aware of them and how large a geographic distribution they have. The two officers were impressed and learned something new that night, but they could have very well done something in response to me breaking Washington State Law. I wonder just what they could have done in response to me interacting with native wildlife, and if that response would be morally sound? I would also wager that 99.999% of the population in this state are not even aware that picking up a garter snake, catching a crayfish, or netting a butterfly to name a few are illegal activities.

I would like to know how I and my children can legally practice entomology as a hobby in this state if that is even possible. Are you offering to approve SCPs for the general public? In California one can interact with non-threatened wildlife if they possess a state fishing license. I do not intend to come off as mean or condescending to you or any other department, I am just frustrated with how this law(s) are written. I would still like to hear from the Enforcement Dept, as I had sent them a copy of the original email.


Regards,

Travis Knudtson


LOL, if I keep pestering them I wonder if my name will get flagged? :?


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 19th, 2010, 2:44 pm 
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David G wrote:

Quote:
Suggest you bring your objections to the attention of the Wildlife Program, or the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

These are the parties who create these regulations and that is where the debate should occur.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 19th, 2010, 2:49 pm 
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Not too long after that I recieved an email from a Lori P.

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Dear Mr. Knudtson,
Your knowledge of invertebrates’ scientific classifications is impressive. I’m sure your children are learning a lot from you. You are right that it is nearly impossible to comply with the exact letter of the law if you read WDFW’s laws literally. The rule that is applicable to scientific collection permits, WAC 220-20-045, does not allow for more than a transitory holding of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates solely for identification purposes. This presents challenges to entomology hobbyists.
What I can tell you is that as much as WDFW would like to be crystal clear in our statutes (RCWs) and rules (WACs), we cannot be exhaustive in specifying what can and cannot be done with all members of the animal kingdom, without expending money and staff time that we do not have (and likely will not have for the foreseeable future, due to the economic forecasts through 2015). WDFW does its best to specifically refer to animals (including reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates, if and when applicable) that are tied to recreational and commercial fishing activities, hunting pursuits, and other areas for which the legislature has given the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission authority to manage. Animals outside those areas are generally the purview of other state agencies. If you have questions about collecting invertebrates, you might want to talk to the State Entomologist, Eric LaGasa. His phone number is (360) 902-2063. He is a wealth of information.
I hope this helps. Thank you for your interest in being a law-abiding citizen. Not many folks are to the extent that you wish to be. It is refreshing.
Lori Preuss
[email protected]
WDFW Enforcement


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 19th, 2010, 3:37 pm 
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Does that letter say that even permit-holders are limited to brief handling of specimens, or is it saying that permit non-holders are limited in that way?

It may behoove every field herper, etc to have a copy of that letter in their pocket for possible encounters with overambitious field personnel.

mryakima


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 19th, 2010, 3:57 pm 
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Scott Ray wrote:
Does that letter say that even permit-holders are limited to brief handling of specimens, or is it saying that permit non-holders are limited in that way?

It may behoove every field herper, etc to have a copy of that letter in their pocket for possible encounters with overambitious field personnel.

mryakima



http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/laws/w ... 07-081.htm
"(a) "Collect" means to take control or to attempt to take control of fish, shellfish, wildlife, or the nests of birds. Collect does not include transitory holding of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates solely for identification purposes."


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 19th, 2010, 3:58 pm 
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here is the link which lead me to the above link...

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/registerfili ... 220-20-045


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 19th, 2010, 5:11 pm 
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TravisK wrote:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/laws/w ... 07-081.htm
"(a) "Collect" means to take control or to attempt to take control of fish, shellfish, wildlife, or the nests of birds. Collect does not include transitory holding of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates solely for identification purposes."


After reading WAC 220-20-045 it appears that this sentence applies only to permit holders since it is in the Scientific Collection Permit section of the code. The reason they went to the trouble of saying this would be to clarify that the permit holder is allowed to pick up and identify animals without being charged with collecting them.

For example, if the permit is limited to collecting of C tenuis, the permit holder is allowed to pick up any snake they see for ID purposes, and if that animal turns out not to be C tenuis, they release it and by this definition they have not collected it.

That could be the wrong interpretation, but I believe that is the way the officer could or would see it.

It looks like for everyone else the law may be as restrictive as anybody thought.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 19th, 2010, 8:58 pm 
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Yeah Scott, that is what I got too. I will call that bug guy with the Agro Dept and see what he tells me tomorrow. But at this point I think it would be a good idea to start asking questions on what we as a community can do to help get things going to make what we do legal. We all know that our current laws are FAILOR, but that is not a point to settle on.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 20th, 2010, 9:05 am 
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I just had a very interesting conversation with Eric Lagasa. I am not sure I can even post some of the things he said. :?


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 21st, 2010, 8:12 am 
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Eric wrote me yesterday afternoon after I had spoke with him earlier that morning. I think it is safe to say that we share the same views.

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Hi Travis,

Now, having read through your email and after talking with you this morning, I think I understand your questions (and dilemma). Your interpretation of the letter of the current state laws regarding collection of insects, as “wildlife”, is essentially correct. However, from our discussion, I hope you have a better idea of how enforcement of the letter of the laws is mutable, and that clarifying the grey areas you identify isn’t likely. Hobby collecting or other amateur possession of insects occurring in the state (live or pinned), except for threatened or endangered species, is a grey area that state agencies (WDFW in particular) aren’t going to clarify or enforce anytime in the near future. State Parks are a different shade of grey story, where removing insects and plants are more likely to be enforced (w/ more reason, i.e. parks exist for public enjoyment of the plants and animals), but still grey. National Parks, on the other hand, are much less grey, and federal law is clear – you do need a Federal permit, and may well get fined if caught removing any “wildlife”.

Outside of parks, and protected (threatened) species, the collection, preservation, and display of insects for any non-commercial purpose is clearly an activity that will be “overlooked” as a violation of the letter of state statute. Student and hobby collectors take an infinitesimally small number of insects when compared to every vehicle driver who indiscriminately slaughters insects (and vertebrates for that matter) on our highways non-stop, without a second thought. Given that, how can someone who collects insects to study and appreciate them be fined? “Amateur” and professional entomologists don’t kill insects, they preserve them, nor do they “collect” . . . they “survey”. As we discussed this morning, the elimination of science from “free trade” and government increasingly leaves only the amateurs to learn what insects are here and what the do. (BTW . . . the word amateur comes from the Latin amator and amare, lover and to love.)

I hope this note and our discussion this morning help you understand how and why the grey areas (you accurately identify) and priorities exist as they currently do.

Regards,

Eric

Eric LaGasa, Chief Entomologist
Pest Program / Plant Protection Division
Washington State Department of Agriculture


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 21st, 2010, 10:10 am 
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Will his sentiments apply to reptiles then too? Are bugs more or less overlooked than reptiles? If anything, he only muddies the water with his statements as he is basically saying go ahead, we won't care, but it wouldn't hold up in court?


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 21st, 2010, 11:51 am 
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The letter from Mr Lasagna is just the kind of response I expected from the state: a non-committal statement that blurs the literalness of the law. Our country is now loaded with the kind of attitude shown in the letter, laws that are specific and can be enforced if the legal controlling authority wants to do it, but while at the same time we are being told not to worry because they probably won't enforce them. It makes life a minefield full of ambiguities. This letter should be archived by everyone as a possible defense if ever charged for invert collecting. As Andy points out, we need to know about herps too. Not necessarily related to collecting (although collecting should be allowed for non-threatened species), but to the searching, and handling for ID and photos.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 21st, 2010, 12:01 pm 
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FYI, Mr. LaGasa is with the Dept of Agriculture so whatever he says has no bearing on WDFW regarding enforcement. He does however agree with us and our views over the current legal structure in WA for both herps and inverts. He simple believes there is nothing we can do about it and doesn't think the WDFW will do anything about it either unless one goes commercial with their endeavors.

He came off as a really neat guy, and I am tempted to invite him on an outing or two.

Regards,


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 21st, 2010, 8:49 pm 
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There are people like him in WDFW too, that feel the same way as us about reptiles, but sadly, it doesn't matter. Even if someone with authority told you they thought you'd be ok, and then you got cited, you couldn't say, well he told me it was ok, unless, maybe if you had it in writing. I got my criminal trespass on a closed wildlife area thrown out because I told the truth to the DA of Yakima county that I had a picture of the "closed area" sign and how the date was written on it in Sharpee and that I planned on printing it in 8x10 and bringing it to court, and I had access to a letter from a WDFW senior employee who would vouch that I was under his instruction to photograph rattlesnakes in that area, though he was tentative about it, didn't want to stop on any toes. The DA didn't like the fact that they treated me like a poacher even though I was a volunteer for them, so he threw out the case the day before I was supposed to have my first court appearance, in my mind, I got lucky.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 22nd, 2010, 7:51 am 
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sounds like it might be nice to know a few land owners with lots of acreage. Essentially if you are on state land then watch your back, and if you are on federal land use your ninja skills.


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 29th, 2010, 8:22 am 
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I have not been to Washington partly because of these laws... If I ever go up there I will spend as little as possible there.

Its sad and I would not live in that communist state.. (sorry Washingtoners no offense to those that live there)

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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.


Thats fine and dandy and an arrest may come from them saying one was "harassing" for taking a photo or lifting a rock to find one, but you only need one Juror in 12 to not define that as "harassing", to win in court.

Fundad


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 Post subject: Re: Ill-Conceived Wildlife Laws - RE: herps, invertebrates,
PostPosted: July 29th, 2010, 9:36 am 
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Part of me wonders if a highly publicized court hearing would be a good thing. Of coarse the circumstances of the issues that lead to the hearing would have to be that of ludicrousy in the first place.


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