It is currently December 17th, 2017, 7:48 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 9 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: April 8th, 2016, 8:12 pm 
User avatar

Joined: December 13th, 2014, 5:27 pm
Posts: 46
Alan St.John recently sent me an email saying he had heard from someone along the Snake River near Hells Canyon that in the past had a couple sightings of "A banded one like a coral snake, but more white.". Alan probed some more and included a photo of a california mountain kingsnake, "I think what I saw was the king snake.  I remember a lot of black and white and some red….". I raised the topic of ground snakes with Alan (the usual questions I'd expect anyone in here to ask), but he maintained that between Hells Canyon and the open desert country of the Snake Valley in the Boise region favored by ground snakes the habitats are different enough not to suit the other. He also heard through his contact that other Hells Canyon residents have seen brightly colored cross banded snakes over the years but so rarely that they attributed it to snakes carried in on loads of hay from somewhere else.

When Alan first heard this report it jogged his memory:

Quote:
"Way back in 1939 when biologist Murray Johnson published the first documented mountain kingsnake records for Washington's eastern Columbia River Gorge, he mentioned going to the Blue Mountains of SE Washington. While there, he talked with a local farm boy named Eldon Buckanon (near Troy) who quite accurately described a mountain kingsnake he'd observed."


A few days later I got another email from Alan passing on an update from his contact who met with other residents with a zonata photograph:

Quote:
"Good news...People recognize king snakes around here. Not so good news. No one has seen one in several years, probably not since the giant wildfires started happening."


We are not aware of any photo vouchered reports and as such this could be a wild goose chase. This is not an area where they are officially known to live afaik. The trail is cold! Alan thinks Hells Canyon has received scant herpetological investigation though and that this sighting is credible enough to share (his contact is college educated). He suggested getting the word out and seeing if others have zonata reports in this area and just to keep an eye out. I mentioned whether to include fieldherpforum.com and he was agreeable as he hoped someone else might turn up with a zonata sighting.

We recognize zonata's protected status in Oregon and stress that this is not an open invite to trash the habitat and handle protected snakes. My goal is simply zero impact while getting a photograph, report it to the DFW to further science, and to Alan so he can continue to update new edition of "Reptiles of the Northwest". I have only driven through Hells Canyon before but I plan on researching up likely zonata habitat, confirming legal access rights to land, and making a trip out there sometime this summer/fall (my spring is mostly clogged with herping trips already!).


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: April 8th, 2016, 8:59 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
Posts: 490
Technoeado,
Interesting post and thanks. Have these anecdotal accounts been reported just on the Oregon side or Idaho side as well?

Just so you are informed, the non-game section of ODFW is not known to use any valid science whatsoever when the agency places species of snakes either on their Sensitive Species or Protected Species lists.

There is total void of any valid evidence that would support the initial listing of any species of snake on either list and no valid scientific evidence has surfaced that would support the continued listing of those species including the Calif. Mt. Kingsnake.

In fact the agency is now proposing to add 5 more species of snake into a hands of ‘Protected’ status without one shred of scientific evidence is support of such proposals.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: April 12th, 2016, 10:29 pm 
User avatar

Joined: December 13th, 2014, 5:27 pm
Posts: 46
Hello Richard!

Alan's contact lives on the Idaho side, north of Hells Canyon (??), along the snake river but I don't have an address or locations of the sightings myself. My plan is maybe to do some viewshedding in Google Earth to locate sites on either side of the river with good rocky southern exposure, consider areas I can access legally that have roads/trails, get the word out here and locally, and go on a trip to check it out. The Hells Canyon/Snake River area also sounds like new interesting country for me to explore regardless. I don't expect to find any zonata, but I'll get an eyeful of the land at least. This is an unlikely hunt so I don't know how seriously others should take this. My intent was moreso just to ask folks about zonata in this area, and if other herpers have reason to go to keep an eye out and keep our friend Alan in mind if something turns up.

He also mentioned:

Quote:
"ring-necked snake has a similar distribution/habitat-requirement (as Zonata) in the Northwest, and it indeed occurs as isolated populations in Hells Canyon."


He also said his contact described a communal fear of the authorities getting involved if endangered animals are reported. Alan explained they are not federally protected and classified as endangered but are sparse in distribution at the northern edge of their range. Just something to be sensitive to if we meet anyone.

Quote:
"We recognize zonata's protected status in Oregon and stress that this is not an open invite to trash the habitat and handle protected snakes."


Richard, regarding my quote above... I could have worded some things better -- I told people what they should/shouldn't do which is usually a bad idea. I also shouldn't have mentioned Oregon specifically and just included WA/ID with OR. The boundaries of 3 states are near the general area of Hells Canyon and the Snake River and "laws may vary" may have been a better point depending on where one wants to look. Regardless of DFW data, I see zonata populations in northern oregon, washington, and idaho as sensitive. They are uncommon at the edge of their range and I give them respect for being such survivors. I do have an ODFW friend who had a zonata site in WA he had spent 7 years researching get leaked to the public resulting in habitat destruction and displaced snakes (research project was ruined). I want to show zonata in the pacnw a little reverence so any future readers of this post will pause and consider it instead of just seeing a brightly colored snake to chase, but like a caveman I end up waving laws in everyone's faces.

As for the 5 more species of snakes being added to 'Protected' list by ODFW -- Alan emailed me about this in February and I wrote a length letter to the ODFW director with my own feedback, explaining the thousands of miles I put on my car for snake tourism in Oregon (as its illegal to handle them in WA), asking to see the data especially for yellow bellied racers being added to the protected list (on some of my trips these are the ONLY snakes I find!). I also have a trip to Alvord Desert in early May to look for desert striped whipsnakes that would have been illegal if the revisions had passed in early March. Fortunately I received an email from the ODFW director Curt Melcher on 2/23 stating:

Quote:
"At this time, we are fielding a lot of questions about the Division 44 rules and will not be changing any rules in March. We plan to take some more time to consider public feedback and address the concerns we have been hearing."


So yeah I'm aware of this madness, and afaik the proposal described (submitted for feedback in January of this year to division 044) is currently stopped and won't go into law. We do need to keep our eyes out for similar changes returning and be ready to scrutinize it and defend public access to reptiles if we must. We should just know to dig around on ODFW's site in January of 2017.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: April 13th, 2016, 5:59 am 

Joined: February 4th, 2013, 7:43 pm
Posts: 57
I number of years ago I was leafing through a book at Powell's Books, and came across a mention of Plethodon idahoensis in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. I haven't been able to find that reference again, and only had one small chance to search at the edge of the area. Since Dicamptodon aterrimus and Ascaphus montanus are known here, Couer D'Alene salamanders are worth searching for. They're not yet formally documented in OR or WA, but are locally abundant in BC, ID, and MT. The Blue Mountain long-toed salamanders are likely a regionally endemic species as well, as is another long-toe in southern ID and adjacent MT [based on analysis of several published sources].


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: April 13th, 2016, 8:35 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1664
Quote:
As for the 5 more species of snakes being added to 'Protected' list by ODFW -- Alan emailed me about this in February and I wrote a length letter to the ODFW director with my own feedback, explaining the thousands of miles I put on my car for snake tourism in Oregon (as its illegal to handle them in WA), asking to see the data especially for yellow bellied racers being added to the protected list (on some of my trips these are the ONLY snakes I find!). I also have a trip to Alvord Desert in early May to look for desert striped whipsnakes that would have been illegal if the revisions had passed in early March. Fortunately I received an email from the ODFW director Curt Melcher on 2/23 stating:

Quote:
"At this time, we are fielding a lot of questions about the Division 44 rules and will not be changing any rules in March. We plan to take some more time to consider public feedback and address the concerns we have been hearing."


So yeah I'm aware of this madness, and afaik the proposal described (submitted for feedback in January of this year to division 044) is currently stopped and won't go into law. We do need to keep our eyes out for similar changes returning and be ready to scrutinize it and defend public access to reptiles if we must. We should just know to dig around on ODFW's site in January of 2017.


Good on ya man, well done for getting involved and having some success. Your last point (last 2 sentences) are right on. If possible, someone(s) in your chapter (OR residents would be better...) might do even better to not just show up at the end of the process, but to try and get a foot in the recently-cracked door ASAP. I recommend this from 2 perspectives. First, any agency can either accidentally or intentionally fail to put something on its website. Second, it would be better to have a constructive rather than adversarial relationship with ODFW. If that's possible for recreational herpers. It seems like their Director is sensitive to - maybe even desires - public access to participatory opportunities, maybe his staff are too. Maybe. Give it an earnest try before passing judgement, is my recommendation.

Best of luck


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: April 15th, 2016, 8:07 am 
User avatar

Joined: July 8th, 2010, 10:14 am
Posts: 772
Location: Eastern Washington
Interesting, this makes the account of a zonata sighting by my half brother's cousin in the blue mountains a bit more believable. I need to try and track him down and see if he has a photo for it.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: May 18th, 2016, 7:06 am 
User avatar

Joined: July 8th, 2010, 10:14 am
Posts: 772
Location: Eastern Washington
the below is also an explanation for the snake river and blue mtn sightings.


http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pd ... 086/670988
Image

Image

Image[/quote]


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: July 10th, 2016, 11:58 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:39 am
Posts: 3483
TravisK wrote:
the below is also an explanation for the snake river and blue mtn sightings.


http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pd ... 086/670988



I actually brought that up with my dad when this thread first started. He spent a lot of time catching ground snakes in their habitat in the Snake River Bird of Prey National Monument, and I asked what he thought of the possibility of ground snakes being mis-ID'd up north.


He says he's never herped Hells Canyon/Blue Mountain, but from what he's seen of them, they would make really bad ground snake habitat. Distant from closest populations aside, they're much more likely as Mountain Kingsnake habitat than as Ground Snake habitat, in his opinion.


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: snake river/hells canyon zonata sightings
PostPosted: July 11th, 2016, 7:28 am 
User avatar

Joined: July 8th, 2010, 10:14 am
Posts: 772
Location: Eastern Washington
jonathan wrote:
TravisK wrote:
the below is also an explanation for the snake river and blue mtn sightings.


http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pd ... 086/670988



I actually brought that up with my dad when this thread first started. He spent a lot of time catching ground snakes in their habitat in the Snake River Bird of Prey National Monument, and I asked what he thought of the possibility of ground snakes being mid-ID'd up north.


He says he's never herped Hells Canyon/Blue Mountain, but from what he's seen of them, they would make really bad ground snake habitat. Distant from closest populations aside, they're much more likely as Mountain Kingsnake habitat than as Ground Snake habitat, in his opinion.



Jonathan,

This is not good to hear.... you are getting my curiosity going on this again. That means more trips :-D
I have yet to see either species anywhere, yet alone in new a range. I feel like I will need to look into this more.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 9 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 26 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: