Oregon herpers and those herping in Oregon,
Travis tasked me to find out the laws in Oregon regarding field herping and so I have. You may not like what I found since most of the Oregon herpers I asked about regulations didn't think we had formal ones. It took a while to uncover these laws and they are laws which can result in tickets if not followed.
My quest for answers started with an internet search which uncovered the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR). OAR # 635-044-0000 http://www.dfw.state.or.us/oars/44.pdf
covers the holding, propagating, rehabilitating, and protected wildlife. Although a lot of this doesn't apply to most herpers, sections # 635-044-0130 (Nongame Wildlife Protected) and # 635-044-0130 (Nongame Wildlife Nonprotected) do pertain to us and should be understood by our members. Here is a summary:
Below are the species that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife list as those “unlawful for a person to hunt, trap, pursue, kill, take, catch…or have in possession, either dead or alive, whole or in part” by OAR #635-044-0130:
Blotched Tiger Salamander Ambystoma mavortuim melanostictum
Clouded Salamander Aneides ferreus
Black Salamander Aneides flavipunctatus
California Slender Salamander Batrachoseps attenuates
Oregon Slender Salamander Batrachoseps wright
Cope's Giant Salamander Dicamptodon copei
Larch Mountain Salamander Plethodon larselli
Del Norte Salamander Plethodon elongates
Siskiyou Mountains Salamander Plethodon stormi
Cascade Torrent Salamander Rhyacotriton cascadae
Columbia Torrent Salamander Rhyacotriton kezeri
Southern Torrent Salamander Rhyacotriton variegatus
Frogs and Toads
Rocky Mountain (Inland) Tailed Frog Ascaphus montanus
Coastal Tailed Frog Ascaphus truei
Western Toad Bufo boreas
Woodhouse’s Toad Bufo woodhousii
Northern Leopard Frog Lithobates pipiens
Northern Red-legged Frog Rana aurora
Foothill Yellow-legged Frog Rana boylii
Cascades Frog Rana cascadae
Columbia Spotted Frog Rana luteiventris
Oregon Spotted Frog Rana pretiosa
Western Painted Turtle Chrysemys picta
Western Pond Turtles Clemmys marmorata
Great Basin Collard Lizard Crotaphytus bicinctores
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Gambelia wislizenii
Pygmy Short-horned Lizard Phrynosoma douglasii
Desert Horned Lizard Phrynosoma platyrhinos
Sharptail Snake Contia Tenuis
Common Kingsnake Lampropeltis getula
California Mountain Kingsnake Lampropeltis zonata
Western Ground Snake Sonora semiannulata
According to OAR #635-044-0132 all remaining wildlife is considered nonprotected however there are still regulations on these species. Those regulations are:
1) Any nonprotected wildlife taken from the wild and possessed shall be maintained in a humane manner as follows:
(a) Food and water of sufficient quantity and quality to allow for normal growth or maintenance of body weight, shelter sufficient to protect the animal from adverse elements, and any other requirement particular to the animal's survival shall be provided;
(b) Sufficient space for exercise necessary for the health of the animal shall also be provided;
(c) Confinement areas shall be kept reasonably clean and free from excess waste or other contaminants which could affect the animal's health;
(d) A level of care deemed necessary by a reasonably prudent person shall be provided to prevent distress from captivity, injury, neglect or disease;
2) It is unlawful for any person possessing wildlife to cause or allow such wildlife to be chased, injured, harmed, harassed, molested, worried, frightened, or neglected, except wildlife taken under a Scientific Taking Permit.
After looking this over I had some questions so I started by asking Robert T. (Bob) Mason at Oregon State University since he is a professor in the Department of Zoology studying garter snakes and I thought he would either be familiar with Oregon's regulations or know someone who was. Since he primarily studies the garters in Canada, he wasn’t sure of the current Oregon laws but directed me to Audrey Hatch who is an independent consultant working with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and used to work with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
I contacted Audrey and asked her some of the questions I didn't feel the OAR addressed such as guidelines on herping methods (i.e., using coverboards, debris searches, rolling logs, dipnetting, snake hooks, etc) and duration of time permitted to hold an animal for photographing or identifying. I also asked her whether she could clarify a few terms like "pursue" and "catch" which are rather vague.
Audrey reported that “there are no regulations on photographing amphibians & reptiles, provided that they and their habitats are not disturbed." She stated that handling should be kept to a minimal to reduce stress; and for amphibians to make sure the animal is kept moist. She made it clear that no animals should ever be transported from one watershed to another. She mentioned the Scientific Taking Permit if one is planning on transporting or holding an animal, as some herpers have been known to do for photographing at a better time.
As far as searching for the animals: Audrey said as long as you have permission to be on the property (or it's public property), that is the main consideration. Watch for signs indicating 'sensitive riparian' habitat, but otherwise you should be okay for this purpose.
Audrey wasn't certain of some of the language in the law and consulted with Lindsay Adrean, ODFW non-game species biologist, who suggested I speak with Susan Barnes, ODFW west-side biodiversity biologist. Audrey said that Susan would be the best person to talk about questions on the latest developments on capture/handling permit requirements.
Susan explained to me that as soon as an animal is touched by a human it is considered captured and thus it is prohibited or a Scientific Taking Permit (STP) is required. She explained further that herpers may enjoy the animals "as birders do" with visual encountered without getting into trouble but that the laws are in place to ensure the well being of the animals ODFW is trying to protect. Susan said that if data on these animals is being shared with the organization, whether through NAFHA, HERP, HerpMapper, etc., then ODFW is interested in obtaining these records for monitoring purposes. The data provided on these sites cannot be used unless the methods in which they were obtained have been reviewed and approved, yet another reason why she said the STP is important. This didn't surprise me much since many states require a fishing license for herping.
Which brings us to the Scientific Taking Permit. One must apply for this permit and pay a fee of. The permit is annual (from January 1st to December 31st). The permit fee is $17.00 for scientific or educational purposes as part of a program or course of study at a K-12 educational institution http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/license_permits_apps/docs/STPapplicationk_12.pdf
or $102.00 for any agency, corporation, association, or other such entity http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/license_permits_apps/docs/STPapplication.pdf
. To complete your application, you will need:
1. Complete contact information for the permittee
2. A detailed description of your project, (i.e. location, goals and purpose, sampling methods, start and end dates, etc.)
3. Information and an attachment regarding any federal authorization(s) for taking federally listed species. Federal authorization is required if listed species are included in your take proposal. This won’t apply to any field herper.
4. Estimates of the number of both target and non-target species that may be encountered during the course of your project and the capture methods (such as dipnetting) and activities that will be performed (e.g., identify, detaining for photographing, handling, etc.).
The permit application looks like this:http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/license_permits_apps/docs/STPapplication.pdf
Applications are reviewed by ODFW staff and may (probably) will be follow up with additional questions such as training/experience, study area, project methods, project timeframe, expected benefits to science, protocols in place to prevent spread of disease, and education/training/practical experience in handling wildlife. Susan advised putting the entire state if you don't know exactly where you will be herping and include any method you may use. Additional instructions can be found here, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/license_permits_apps/docs/STP_additional_info.pdf
Field herpers that are members of NAFHA should put NAFHA as their affiliation in the permit. You may notice that there are only six spaces for putting which species and counties you intend on handling herpetofauna in. I understand that it is difficult to predict what you might see in a year that you would feel the need to handle but you can list generic species and attach additional pages as needed. ODFW also requires you list your method but you can list multiple method types. This permit is for scientific purposes, meaning long term monitoring of species as is done with NAHERP and HerpMapper, studies on effect of climate change on species, etc. If you are herping purely out of pleasure with no intention of touching any animals or disturbing the habitat, then a permit is not needed.
When applying for the Scientific Taking Permit, one needs to attach a summary of your need for the permit. The permit is NOT transferable and NEEDS to be carried on a person when “collecting”. It does not authorize trespassing without landowner’s permission and we are required to get permission from the owner to be on any private land. The permit is not valid for capturing any state or federal endangered or threatened species and it is not valid in any refuge, park, city, wildlife area or area posted closed to collecting without written approval of manager or administrator.
Allow up to 60 days for processing and questions about the permit can be directed toward the Wildlife Permits Coordinator (503) 947-6303.
By January 30th of the year following the expiry of a permit, persons with the permit are required to file an annual report containing metadata which looks like this:
ODFW wants this report to contain all herps found in the year of the permit, HERP or HerpMapper can help keep track of this. The report must be send to:
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE
Salem OR 97302
Other than herping by only visual encounters, the only other time you don't need a STP to herp is with non-native species. According to Susan, if you touch a bullfrog, you are prohibited by law to release it alive. That means you can take it home and keep it in an escape proof enclosure (away from all native wildlife) for the remainder of its life or you have to euthanize it. She suggested not touching any tadpoles unless you are certain of the species so that native tadpoles aren’t being killed by accident. See #635-056-0070 http://www.dfw.state.or.us/oars/56.pdf
(3) Controlled Amphibians:
(a) Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) including viable eggs, hatchlings, tadpoles, juveniles and adults: No person may import, purchase, sell, barter or exchange, or offer to import, purchase, sell, barter or exchange live bullfrogs. Individual bullfrogs may be collected from the wild and held indoors in an escape proof aquarium as per OAR 635-044-0035. Release is prohibited unless the person first obtains a permit from the Director.
Susan mentioned that some species such as the Pacific chorus frog Pseudacris regilla and a few of the garter snakes have different regulations because there are so many of them. They would fall under the wildlife not to be chased, injured, harmed, harassed, molested, worried, or frightened; albeit I would argue that the term "worried" is anthropomorphic and "frightened" is difficult to quantify without measuring adrenocorticoid or catecholamine hormone concentrations.
All that being said, Susan mentioned that the Oregon laws are coming up for review soon so if other NAFHA members have documentation regarding the herping laws in other states, ODFW is interested in reviewing those. I'm not sure who should be contacted for this.
If you have further questions you can contact Carol Turner (503) 947-6303, I found Carol to be very friendly and helpful when I called to ask questions. I know that this is a long post with even more rules and regulations, a lot of which you might have never heard of before. I wanted to share this information with all of you since there seemed to be a lot of confusion on the matter of legality and field herping. Since I discovered the laws, I have been herping under a no handling policy which can limit that amount of herpetofauna you see or are able to photograph.
Please see the full documentation below for more details about Oregon wildlife (birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles) laws and regulations.
Happy herping, Heather
Still related to Oregon herpetofauna laws but now regarding “pets”. Some of you may have seen my post about originally wanting to move all my pets out here with me but finding out that it is illegal to do so (at least the amphibians, cats are okay). I was required to leave them in Illinois with my parents until I could figure out more. The law that pertains to that is #635-56-0050 which prohibits importing, possession, selling, purchasing, exchange, or transportation of several species. My tree frogs and salamander fell into the prohibited species. However, there is a clause that says you may purchase a permit for possession of these species if you meet the following standards:
(a) The facility is constructed to minimize escape of prohibited species;
(b) There are adequate security and safety programs and procedures which minimize the possibility of escape;
(c) There is adequate record keeping to aid in tracking of confined animals or recovery of escaped animals;
(d) There are adequate procedures, equipment and trained staff to maximize capture of escaped animals;
(e) Adequate veterinary care is provided to identify and minimize the spread of diseases; and
(f) The applicant has a good reputation for care of animals and compliance with the wildlife laws.
(g) Using forms provided by the department, persons or entities may apply for a permit under subsection (2) as follows:
(A) Facilities accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). Because the department finds that the current AZA accreditation process holds these facilities to standards equivalent to those in subsection (2), AZA accreditation shall be evidence that the department’s standards for importation, possession, sale, purchase, exchange or intrastate transportation of prohibited species are met. To obtain a permit for these activities, AZA accredited facilities shall submit a completed application form and proof of accreditation.
(B) Universities and colleges. To obtain a permit, universities and colleges shall submit:
(i) A completed application form;
(ii) A written description of escape avoidance procedures and facilities; and
(iii) Identification of the time period(s) during which prohibited species will be held.
(C) Others. To apply for a permit, persons and entities other than universities, colleges and AZA accredited facilities shall submit:
(i) A completed application form; and
(ii) A completed Prohibited Species Questionnaire.
(h) Satisfactory facilities inspections may be required prior to issuance of any permit.
The animals one is allowed to import, possess, sell, purchase, exchange, or transport in the state without a permit are listed under #635-056-0060, noncontrolled species. I found this list interesting because it included the red panda, hippopotamus, all species of rhinoceros, and all species of manatees which are all somewhere between threatened or extinct in the wild but that is an aside. The listed herpetofauna are:
(3) Noncontrolled Amphibians: Common Name -- Family -- Genus/species:
(a) Order Anura:
(A) Allophrynid tree frog -- Allophrynidae -- Allophryne All species;
(B) Hairy frogs -- Arthroleptidae -- Trichobatrachus All species;
(C) Cane toad -- Bufonidae -- Bufo marinus;
(D) African tree toads -- Bufonidae -- Nectophryne All species;
(E) Live-bearing toads -- Bufonidae -- Nectophrynoides All species;
(F) Glass frogs -- Centrolenidae -- All species;
(G) Poison arrow frogs -- Dendrobatidae -- All species;
(H) Ghost frogs -- Heleophrynidae -- Heleophryne All species;
(I) Shovel-nosed frogs -- Hemisotidae -- Hemisus All species;
(J) Leaf frogs -- Hylidae -- Agalychnis All species;
(K) Casque-headed frogs -- Hylidae -- Aparashpenodon All species;
(L) Water-holding frogs -- Hylidae -- Cyclorana All species;
(M) Marsupial frogs -- Hylidae -- Gastrotheca All species;
(N) Marbled tree frogs – Hylidae – Hyla marmorata
(O) Australian giant tree frogs -- Hylidae --Litoria chlorus and L. infrafrenata;
(P) Slender-legged tree frogs -- Hylidae -- Osteocephalus All species;
(Q) Cuban tree frogs -- Hylidae -- Osteopilus All species;
(R) White's tree frog -- Hylidae -- Pelodryas caerulea;
(S) Golden-eyed tree frogs -- Hylidae -- Phrynohyas All species;
(T) Monkey frogs -- Hylidae -- Phyllomedusa All species;
(U) Burrowing frogs -- Hylidae -- Pternohyla All species;
(V) Casque-headed tree frogs -- Hylidae -- Trachycephalus All species;
(W) Shovel-headed tree frogs -- Hylidae -- Triprion All species;
(X) Banana frogs -- Hyperoliidae -- Afrixalas All species;
(Y) Reed frogs -- Hyperoliidae -- Hyperolius All species;
(Z) Running frogs -- Hyperoliidae -- Kassina All species;
(AA) Forest tree frogs -- Hyperoliidae -- Leptopelis All species;
(BB) New Zealand frogs -- Leiopelmatidae -- Leiopelma All species;
(CC) Common horned frogs -- Leptodactylidae -- Ceratophrys All species;
(DD) Rain or robber frogs -- Leptodactylidae -- Eleutherodactylus All species;
(EE) Paraguay horned toads -- Leptodactylidae -- Lepidobatrachus All species
(FF) Asian horned toad -- Megophryidae -- Megophrys montana (nasuta);
(GG) Tomato frogs -- Microhylidae -- Dyscophus All species;
(HH) Narrow-mouthed frogs -- Microhylidae -- Gastrophryne All species;
(II) Sheep frogs -- Microhylidae -- Hypopachus All species;
(JJ) Malaysian narrowmouth toad -- Microhylidae -- Kaloula pulchra;
(KK) Tusked frog -- Myobatrachidae -- Adelotus brevis;
(LL) Pouched frog -- Myobatrachidae -- Assa darlingtoni;
(MM) Giant burrowing frogs -- Myobatrachidae -- Heleioporus All species;
(NN) Cannibal frogs -- Myobatrachidae -- Lechriodus All species;
(OO) Turtle frog -- Myobatrachidae -- Myobatrachus gouldii;
(PP) Australian spadefoot toads -- Myobatrachidae -- Notaden All species;
(QQ) Crowned toadlets -- Myobatrachidae -- Pseudophryne All species;
(RR) Gastric brooding frog -- Myobatrachidae -- Rheobatrachus All species;
(SS) Torrent frogs -- Myobatrachidae -- Taudactylus All species;
(TT) Australian toadlets -- Myobatrachidae -- Uperoleia All species;
(UU) Parsley frogs -- Pelodytidae -- Pelodytes All species;
(VV) Dwarf clawed frogs -- Pipidae -- Hymenochirus All species;
(WW) Surinam frogs -- Pipidae -- Pipa All species;
(XX) Mantella frogs --Ranidae -- Mantella All species;
(YY) Foam nest tree frogs -- Rhacophoridae -- Chiromantis All species;
(ZZ) Gliding or flying frogs -- Rhacophoridae -- Rhacophorus All species;
(AAA) Tonkin Bug-eyed frog – Rhacophoridae – Theloderma corticale;
(BBB) Mexican burrowing frog -- Rhinodermatidae -- Rhinophrynus dorsalis;
(CCC) Seychelles frogs -- Sooglossidae -- All species.
(b) Order Caudata:
(A) Axolotl -- Ambystomatidae -- Ambystoma mexicanum;
(B) Gold-striped salamander -- Salamandridae -- Chioglossa lusitanica;
(C) Black-spotted and striped newts -- Salamandridae -- Notophthalmus meridionalis and N. perstriatus;
(D) Spectacled salamander -- Salamandridae -- Salamandrina teridgitata.
(c) Order Gymnophiona:
(A) Caecilians -- All species.
(4) Noncontrolled Reptiles: Common Name -- Family -- Genus/species;
(a) Order Squamata (Suborder Amphisbaenia): Worm lizards -- All species.
(b) Order Squamata (Suborder Lacertilia):
(A) Pricklenapes -- Agamidae -- Acanthosaura All species;
(B) Common or rainbow agama -- Agamidae -- Agama agama;
(C) Frilled dragon -- Agamidae -- Chlamydosaurus kingii;
(D) Humphead forest dragons -- Agamidae -- Gonocephalus All species;
(E) Sailfin lizards -- Agamidae -- Hydrosaurus All species;
(F) Anglehead forest dragons -- Agamidae -- Hypsilurus All species;
(G) Splendid Japalure – Agamidae – Japalura splendida
(H) Water dragons -- Agamidae -- Lophognathus All species;
(I) Water dragons -- Agamidae -- Physignathus All species;
(J) Bearded dragons -- Agamidae -- Pogona All species;
(K) Mastigures -- Agamidae -- Uromastyx All species;
(L) Strange Agamas – Agamidae – Xenagama All species;
(M) Chameleons -- Chamaeleonidae -- All species;
(N) Plated lizards -- Cordylidae -- Gerrhosaurus All species;
(O) Flat lizards -- Cordylidae -- Platysaurus All species;
(P) Geckos -- Gekkonidae -- All species;
(Q) Gila monster, beaded lizard -- Helodermatidae -- All species;
(R) Iguanid lizards -- Iguanaidae -- All nonnative species except: Crotaphytus spp., Gambelia spp., Sceloporus spp., Uta spp., Phrynosoma spp.;
(S) Asian Grass Lizard – Lacertidae – Takydromus sexlineatus
(T)Skinks -- Scincidae -- All nonnative species except Eumeces spp.;
(U) Ameivas -- Teiidae -- Ameiva All species;
(V)Tegus -- Teiidae -- Tupinambis All species;
(W)Monitor lizards -- Varanidae -- All species except Varanus griseus;
(X)Night lizards -- Xantusiidae -- All species;
(Y)American knob-scaled lizards -- Xenosauridae -- Xenosaurus All species.
(d) Order Squamata (Suborder Serpentes):
(A) File snakes -- Acrochordidae -- All species;
(B) Pythons and Boas -- Boidae -- All nonnative species;
(C) Milk, Pine, Corn, Rat, Garter snakes -- Colubridae -- All nonnative species except Boiga irregularis, Lampropeltis getula, L.zonata, and Pituophis catenifer;
(D) Kingsnakes and gopher (bull) snakes -- Colubridae -- Individuals of Lampropeltis getula, L. zonata and Pituophis catenifer that are morphologically distinct from native species.
(E) Egyptian cobra -- Elapidae -- Naja haje;
(F) Black & white cobra -- Elapidae -- Naja melanoleuca;
(G) Indian cobra -- Elapidae -- Naja naja;
(H) Red spitting cobra -- Elapidae -- Naja pallida;
(I) King cobra -- Elapidae -- Ophiophagus hannah;
(J) Bush vipers -- Viperidae -- Atheris All species;
(K) Gaboon viper -- Viperidae -- Bitis gabonica;
(L) Rhinoceros viper -- Viperidae -- Bitis nasicornis;
(M) Horned vipers -- Viperidae -- Cerastes All species;
(N) Rattlesnakes -- Viperidae -- Crotalus aquilus, C. basiliscus, C. durissus, C. intermedius, C. polystictus, C. pusillus, C. tortugensis, C. triseriatus, C. unicolor, and C. vegrandis;
(O) Saw-scaled vipers -- Viperidae -- Echis All species;
(P) Bushmaster -- Viperidae -- Lachesis muta;
(Q) False horned vipers -- Viperidae -- Pseudocerastes All species;
(R) Pygmy rattlesnakes -- Viperidae -- Sistrurus miliarius and S. ravus.
(c) Order Testudines:
(A) Pignose turtles -- Carettochelyidae -- All species;
(B) Austro--American side-necked turtles -- Chelidae -- All species;
(C) Marine turtles -- Cheloniidae -- All species;
(D) River turtles -- Dermatemydidae -- All species;
(E) Leatherback turtles -- Dermochelyidae -- All species;
(F) Pond and box turtles -- Emydidae -- All nonnative species except Pseudemys spp., Trachemys spp., Chinemys spp., Clemmys spp., Chrysemys spp., Graptemys spp., Emys orbicularis, Emydoidea blandingii and Mauremys spp.;
(G) American mud and musk turtles -- Kinosternidae -- All species except Kinosternon subrubrum and K. odoratum;
(H) Afro-American side-necked turtles -- Pelomedusidae -- All species;
(I) Bighead turtles -- Platysternidae -- All species;
(J) Tortoises -- Testudinidae -- All species;
(K) Softshell turtles -- Trionychidae -- All species except Apolone spp. and Trionyx triunguis.
If you have any reptile or amphibian “pets” and they fall into the noncontrolled species category then congratulations! If not, you might want to look into the permitting process.