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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement

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Offline Daryl

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Moderator note:  Original title was "Caution:  DO NOT observe the wildlife -It may be illegal"

WARNING:

It has come to my attention that a professional herpetologist was recently ticketed and had his equipment (not used in the park) and museum specimens (from outside BBNP) confisctated.

What was his offense?  He was driving and spotted what looked like a snake on the road and turned around to look at it (NOTE: just to LOOK at it -he never even exited his vehicle).

Here is a copy of this persons account as posted in another forum:
Quote
I was caught by the old fake snake on the road trick used by LE in BiG Bend National Park this weekend.

Two things I didn't know.

1> You cannot have a snake hook in the vehicle (I got a large ticket for having a weapon/trap/net ?!?)

2> You cannot have dead museum specimens legally collected several hundred miles away with a scientific permit in your cooler (an even larger ticket).

So if you are a herper and plan to be in big bend. Make sure you leave all animals/equipment that you legally collected in your tent, because if you turn around to identify or photograph any herp while in the park you are likely going to be searched.

They confiscated all my herping equipment including my scientific permit (why not my hunting permit - HB 12!?)

vadoni

ps> The LE officer was very cool, and cut me several breaks. He could have given me much stiffer fines as well as made me appear in an Alpine court and confiscate my camera. So if you do get busted (even if you were not aware it was illegal), be polite!

And
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The LE officer told me he has given tickets for the same thing to others. I asked him what law I violated and he told me to look online under Code of Federal Regulation 36CFR 2.4A1

I would like to fight it, but the money I will need to spend on gas and the time off from work make it not worth it.

I figure the best thing I can do is expose this stupid scam so that the number of busts this guy gets drops off. The bottom line is he is trying to look good for his superiors.

And
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Correct. I had a TPW scientific collecting permit, which I only carried on this trip do to HB12. So it was not valid for the park. But I proved the animals were collected outside the park with data, maps, and photos. The LE officer even told me he knows that I didn't collect in the park, but it is illegal to have any wildlife in the car. (so that 70 year old lady with a wildflower should get the same ticket)

And
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Just a few miles west of panther junction

No I did not exit my vehicle. And the excuse I was given for being pulled over was that I was speeding. I was not speeding and the LE passed me and turned around a mile or so later. As soon as I turned around for the snake the LE came blasting down the road towards me.

Yes I proved that I had collected the specimens in Terrell. I had all the data for the museum as well as photographs with time and date.

The LE told me he had recently given the same fine to a college professor that had a snake hook.

He also told me that most herpers are jerks (of course we feel like we are being raped!) And that since I was polite I was getting off easy.

And
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I was given the citations, but the LE officer said due to my "cooperativeness" I was given a break and will not have to appear in court, just mail the money in (of course he asked where I was from first - Fort Worth)


These posts and responses to them can be seen here on Kingsnake.com
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SHANEA

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Re: Caution: DO NOT observe the wildlife -It may be illegal
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2007, 12:54:30 PM »
Quote from: "Daryl"
He was driving and spotted what looked like a snake on the road and turned around to look at it (NOTE: just to LOOK at it -he never even exited his vehicle)


Wow, I'm guilty as charged.  More than once I've turned around  to LOOK at something in the dark that I passed, be it a rattler on the side of the road or whatever.  Not spotlighting, etc.  I guess not any more.  Thanks for the warning.

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Offline bdann

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Re: Caution: DO NOT observe the wildlife -It may be illegal
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2007, 01:31:33 PM »
Quote from: "SHANEA"


Wow, I'm guilty as charged.  More than once I've turned around  to LOOK at something in the dark that I passed, be it a rattler on the side of the road or whatever.  Not spotlighting, etc.  I guess not any more.  Thanks for the warning.


He didn't get ticketed for looking at the snake, he got the ticket for what was in his vehicle...at least that was my understanding.  

Surprising though...
WATER, It does a body good.

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Offline RichardM

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2007, 02:20:07 PM »
So what would have happened had he gotten out of his car and took a picture of the rubber snake or, God forbid, touched it?

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Offline Daryl

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Re: Caution: DO NOT observe the wildlife -It may be illegal
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2007, 03:05:25 PM »
Quote from: "bdann"
Quote from: "SHANEA"


Wow, I'm guilty as charged.  More than once I've turned around  to LOOK at something in the dark that I passed, be it a rattler on the side of the road or whatever.  Not spotlighting, etc.  I guess not any more.  Thanks for the warning.


He didn't get ticketed for looking at the snake, he got the ticket for what was in his vehicle...at least that was my understanding.  

Surprising though...

Correct.  The REAL offense was the mere possession of collecting equipment and LEGAL museum specimens.  Stopping to look is OK but will create suspicion and possibly lead to a search or your person or vehicle.  Photography can also be considered hunting IF you disturb the animal in ANY way (hence the threat from the ranger about confiscating the camera).
Don't worry about getting lost.  You're biodegradable

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Offline bdann

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2007, 03:31:05 PM »
I can't find the code specified online.  Anyone else able to find it?
WATER, It does a body good.

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Offline Medic

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2007, 05:36:17 PM »
Long, but here it is:

[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 36, Volume 1, Parts 1 to 199]
[Revised as of July 1, 1998]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 36CFR2.4]

[Page 19-20]
 
              TITLE 36--PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC PROPERTY
 
   CHAPTER I--NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
 
PART 2--RESOURCE PROTECTION, PUBLIC USE AND RECREATION--Table of Contents
 
Sec. 2.4  Weapons, traps and nets.

    (a)(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section and parts 7
(special regulations) and 13 (Alaska regulations), the following are
prohibited:

    (i) Possessing a weapon, trap or net
    (ii) Carrying a weapon, trap or net
    (iii) Using a weapon, trap or net

    (2) Weapons, traps or nets may be carried, possessed or used:
    (i) At designated times and locations in park areas where:
    (A) The taking of wildlife is authorized by law in accordance with
Sec. 2.2 of this chapter;
    (B) The taking of fish is authorized by law in accordance with
Sec. 2.3 of this part.
    (ii) When used for target practice at designated times and at
facilities or locations designed and constructed specifically for this
purpose and designated pursuant to special regulations.
    (iii) Within a residential dwelling. For purposes of this
subparagraph only, the term ``residential dwelling'' means a fixed
housing structure which is either the principal residence of its
occupants, or is occupied on a regular

[[Page 20]]

and recurring basis by its occupants as an alternate residence or
vacation home.
    (3) Traps, nets and unloaded weapons may be possessed within a
temporary lodging or mechanical mode of conveyance when such implements
are rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased or stored in a
manner that will prevent their ready use.
    (b) Carrying or possessing a loaded weapon in a motor vehicle,
vessel or other mode of transportation is prohibited, except that
carrying or possessing a loaded weapon in a vessel is allowed when such
vessel is not being propelled by machinery and is used as a shooting
platform in accordance with Federal and State law.
    (c) The use of a weapon, trap or net in a manner that endangers
persons or property is prohibited.
    (d) The superintendent may issue a permit to carry or possess a
weapon, trap or net under the following circumstances:
    (1) When necessary to support research activities conducted in
accordance with Sec. 2.5.
    (2) To carry firearms for persons in charge of pack trains or saddle
horses for emergency use.
    (3) For employees, agents or cooperating officials in the
performance of their official duties.
    (4) To provide access to otherwise inaccessible lands or waters
contiguous to a park area when other means of access are otherwise
impracticable or impossible.

Violation of the terms and conditions of a permit issued pursuant to
this paragraph is prohibited and may result in the suspension or
revocation of the permit.
    (e) Authorized Federal, State and local law enforcement officers may
carry firearms in the performance of their official duties.
    (f) The carrying or possessing of a weapon, trap or net in violation
of applicable Federal and State laws is prohibited.
    (g) The regulations contained in this section apply, regardless of
land ownership, on all lands and waters within a park area that are
under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.
[48 FR 30282, June 30, 1983, as amended at 49 FR 18450, Apr. 30, 1984;
52 FR 35240, Sept. 18, 1987]
Remember, folks, it's 100 miles to the closest hospital.

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SHANEA

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Superintendents Compendium
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2007, 05:46:53 PM »
http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/upload/COMP2007.pdf

Section 2.2 pages 3-4 under wildlife protection.

 
Quote
SECTION 2.2: WILDLIFE PROTECTION.
(d).
-4-
Wildlife lawfully killed outside the park may be transported through the park under the following conditions:
Persons transporting animal carcasses will have in their possession a valid state hunting license.
Animal carcasses shall display a valid state game tag when required.
Animal carcasses must be covered and out of sight.
Animal carcasses shall be subject to inspection at any time by authorized law enforcement personnel.
Animal carcasses may be transported through the park only on Route 13 (Hwy 118), Route 11 (Hwy 385) and the North Rosillos road.
Possession or transportation of live wildlife in the park is prohibited.
(e).
All areas of the park are closed to the viewing of wildlife with an artificial light.
Artificial light is defined as a flashlight, hand-held spotlight, headlights, exterior vehicle lights or other light, which is emitted from a non-natural source. This also includes any infrared or similar light used in connection with a scope or electronic viewing device.



Then get into the Federal regulations and Government Code @
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_01/36cfrv1_01.html
and
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_01/36cfr2_01.html

Way toooooooo much to reprint here.  

Guess I shouldn't have stopped to take his pic on the side of the road one lonely night between PJ and RGV - he was stretched out on the warm road - I almost accidentally ran him over.   Never got closer than about 15' from him.  Momma didn't raise a fool.


Found this critter walking down the center of Green Gulch...  I just leaned out of the Avalanche and snapped his mug.

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Offline SA Bill

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2007, 05:58:59 PM »
This story scares me in ways I can't even think of yet.

If I stop to look at wildlife in the park...part of the reason I like to go there...am I subject to having my person/vehicle searched...just because I showed an interest in something wild???

Wonder if the snake hook was easily seen by the officer. Otherwise how did he know to search the vehicle, thus finding all of the specimens.

Does this story make others queasy? Maybe it's just me.
  Hmmmm....
    Bill
Bill - In San Antonio

Growing old is mandatory.
Growing up is optional.

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Offline Daryl

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2007, 07:08:58 PM »
Quote from: "SA Bill"
Wonder if the snake hook was easily seen by the officer. Otherwise how did he know to search the vehicle, thus finding all of the specimens.

It is my understanding that the hook was in plain sight.  Also, he gave permission for the search because he believed he had done nothing wrong and he respected the fact that rangers are charged with preventing poaching or harrassment of wildlife.

Based on the legal codes posted above, it sounds like the accessable snake hook WAS a violation (But who knew?  I travel through the park often and have never thought to remove or pack away the snake hook that lives in the back of my truck -I've also NEVER used it in the park).  However, transporting the museum specimens seem NOT to be a violation.  After all, he had all the proper documentation and a valid scientific permit (at least until it was confiscated).

Now I know to leave my hook at home or pack it away.

The scariest part for me is that stopping to photograph (or even just look at) an animal could be probable cause for a search and (at least according to the account of what the ranger stated) confiscation of photographic equipment.

BTW -it looks like the entire thread containing the posts that I quoted got deleted from Kingsnake.com -not sure what's up with that.
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chisos_muse

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2007, 07:20:12 PM »
From my personal experience working at park headquarters, my view on this is that if he was indeed a professional herper doing research and collecting/photographing for a museum or some other project, he would have known to make arrangements with the park beforehand. Any researcher has to make contact when doing such. I've seen many come in and want to speak to one of the wildlife biologists or go to the Science and Resource Management Bldg.

A state permit does not work in a national park as far as I know?

And I've never heard of a rubber snake being used as bait....

Nothing wrong with taking a photo of wildlife if you happen to cross paths, but there can't be any stalking or antagonizing involved to get one is the whole point.

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Offline Daryl

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2007, 07:37:46 PM »
Quote from: "chisos_muse"
From my personal experience working at park headquarters, my view on this is that if he was indeed a professional herper doing research and collecting/photographing for a museum or some other project, he would have known to make arrangements with the park beforehand.
True, however, he wasn't collecting or doing any type of research IN the park.  All of that was done outside the park.  He just visited the park because he was in the area and just happened to have some of his specimens and equipment with him.
Quote
A state permit does not work in a national park as far as I know?
Correct.  But again, he wasn't trying to use the permit in the park.  He merely showed it to the ranger in order to explain his possession of the equipment and specimens.
Quote
And I've never heard of a rubber snake being used as bait....
First for me too, at least on a road inside the park.
Quote
Nothing wrong with taking a photo of wildlife if you happen to cross paths, but there can't be any stalking or antagonizing involved to get one is the whole point.
Agreed 100% that this SHOULD be the case.  But what is stalking or antagonizing and what is coincidental observation that may have unintentional disturbed an animal is very subjective.  In this case, he never even got out of the vehicle.
Don't worry about getting lost.  You're biodegradable

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chisos_muse

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2007, 07:46:47 PM »
Quote from: "Daryl"
Quote from: "chisos_muse"
From my personal experience working at park headquarters, my view on this is that if he was indeed a professional herper doing research and collecting/photographing for a museum or some other project, he would have known to make arrangements with the park beforehand.
True, however, he wasn't collecting or doing any type of research IN the park.  All of that was done outside the park.  He just visited the park because he was in the area and just happened to have some of his specimens and equipment with him.
Quote
A state permit does not work in a national park as far as I know?
Correct.  But again, he wasn't trying to use the permit in the park.  He merely showed it to the ranger in order to explain his possession of the equipment and specimens.
Quote
And I've never heard of a rubber snake being used as bait....
First for me too, at least inside the park.
Quote
Nothing wrong with taking a photo of wildlife if you happen to cross paths, but there can't be any stalking or antagonizing involved to get one is the whole point.
Agreed 100% that this SHOULD be the case.  But what is stalking or antagonizing and what is coincidental observation that may have unintentional disturbed an animal is very subjective.  In this case, he never even got out of the vehicle.


I'm just commenting based on what you posted from what the person commented. I find it hard to make a complete judgement on the situation or base any real conclusions with only one side of the story....

I've become very skeptical in my older age..... :lol:

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Offline Daryl

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2007, 08:18:32 PM »
Quote from: "chisos_muse"
...I find it hard to make a complete judgement on the situation or base any real conclusions with only one side of the story....

I've become very skeptical in my older age..... :lol:

I'd also like to hear the other side.  However, the person cited in this case was very reserved in his comments and took great pains to correct anyone that responded with any attempt to inflame the story.  He even stated that he was in the wrong and that the officer was polite and professional.  If he wanted to fan the flames or make the ranger look bad, he did a poor job.
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Offline JeffB

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Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2007, 08:53:23 PM »
I had a similar experience.  We had stopped several times to get out and take pictures of wildlife on Ross Maxwell at night, about 10PM.  We saw a rattlesnake on Ross Maxwell near  Sotol Vista.  We made a quick stop, got out and went over with the camera and took a picture.  It was the second snake picture of the night, in addition to a fox.  


After we started back down the road, an SUV came flying up behind us and turned on the flashers.  We pulled over and the two rangers explained they were watching from the Sotol Vista parking area, looking out for herpers.  We had two large coolers in the back of my truck and they asked to search.  In the coolers they found a lot of beer and ice and camp food.

We explained that we had in fact stopped for a snake but only to take a photo.  They asked to see the camera and looked at the snake photos, the fox, an owl, gecko, pine canyon, case grande, etc etc.  We were glad to show off our pictures.  As they looked through them it became a much more friendly situation- talking about hikes, wildlife, etc.  They were actually quite reasonable and good guys who were doing an important job.  We got a brief lecture about snakes, the danger and not to harass them.  Then we proceeded down the road.  No harm done to snake or human or ranger.

I take much more offense to the mandatory border patrol stops leaving the park on Hwy 385 and on also on Hwy 90.
Jeff Bullard
Dallas, TX

 


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