Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

+-Calendar for sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!


Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement

  • 47 Replies
  • 13364 Views
*

Offline TheWildWestGuy

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1342
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #30 on: June 27, 2007, 06:26:45 AM »
It's not intolerance it's common sense.  The vehicle, snake pole, dead snakes, and gear showed that it is not just casual inspection or passing interest it's collection and capture (or sure did look like it).   Kind of like if I was driving around stopping alongside the road with a big shovel and had lots of cactus in garbage bags in the bed of my truck.   Just coincidence?  Not likely!  The rangers should stop, question, and search people who appear to be a threat to the plants and wildlife of the park especially when those people have the equipment and knowledge necessary to profit from these illegal endeavors.   This is much different than an old lady picking a wildflower or a kid taking a piece of white calcite home with them.   If you don't want to draw attention to yourself just leave your snake pole and collection gear at home - why would you carry this into a National Park anyway? ... TWWG

*

Offline Daryl

  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 203
    • http://www.mountainlivingland.com
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #31 on: June 27, 2007, 09:59:52 AM »
Quote from: "TheWildWestGuy"
It's not intolerance it's common sense.
It is intolerance and it is based on mis-information and false stereotypes.  Rangers don't come swooping in with lights flashing when you stop beside a cactus.  They DO come in with lights flashing if you turn around or slow down for a snake.  This scientist NEVER got out of his vehicle.
Quote from: "TheWildWestGuy"
If you don't want to draw attention to yourself just leave your snake pole and collection gear at home.
The snake hook is NOT what called attention to him.  He became a suspect when he turned around to observe the fake snake.  He and I have both admitted that posssession of the hook was a mistake and illegal (although neither of us knew that).  The possession of the documented museum specimens was NOT a violation, but was poor judgement.
Quote from: "TheWildWestGuy"
why would you carry this into a National Park anyway? ... TWWG
Where was he supposed to leave it?  He decided to visit the park because he was in the general area doing research.  He had the gear with him for activities outside the park.  I (and many others) frequently drive through the park to get from popular herping areas east of the park to popular herping areas west of the park.  I always have my hook because I keep it in my truck.  Packing it away seems silly, but that's what I'll do from now on.  By the way 95% of the use my hook sees is in moving venomous snakes out of the way of traffic.  If I see a snake on the road in BBNP, I guess I have to leave it there to die.  Any other option is either illegal or suspicious.  As long as BBNP hates herpers more than they like snakes, I am afraid to even slow down.
Don't worry about getting lost.  You're biodegradable

*

Offline LBenton

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 2
An old experiance of mine from 1994
« Reply #32 on: June 27, 2007, 02:16:06 PM »
This is why I tread lightly in the park, and now mind you in the fall out from the info below I was not convicted of anything, and not even charged with anything in the park itself. I never herped the park but got caught up in their over zealous efforts to protect it from herpers (that never showed up to hunt the park anyway). But I was jailed, ridiculed and named in articles as a poacher in BBNP.
___________________ ___
___________________ ___
pasted from another forum - my post there
___________________ ___
___________________ ___
I think I can give some insight into operation rockcut as one of the three primary targets of that shit ball plan to catch poacher. I have some fun docuntation on that one I can sum up at the bottom here.

I think it is important to note that BBNP treats herpers differntly than any other people that would like to observe wildlife in the park. The amount of attention they give us is a clear indication as opposed to people that say dig up plants, which I can almost promise that more vegitables and minerals leave the park than animals hands down.

Operation Rockcut summed up short
1- they did a proposal based on Lajitas residents that complained of people hunting in BBNP
2- the next year they sent out Chris Scott (author of a snake lovers life list) to go undercover
3- he spent all year and only observed one person in BBNP
3a- he offered to take anybody that would ride into castalon to hunt and would have let them keep anything found
4- NPS got in bed with TP&W and decided to use this for "hunting with a motor vehicle" along RR
5- Chris Scott talked one person into an all expenses paid herping trip to AZ
5a- was asked about getting permits to hunt in AZ before they left, said not to worry about it
5b- was in control of the whole trip (had the car and "knew the places to go")
5c- they did not nothing but tour the national parks in az and look for protected rattlesnakes
6- returned from AZ and tried to sell every little thing they picked up to people that did not know AZ state law on traffic of WC animals (source of some "bust")
7- he found a really nice alterna in castolon but told us it came from south alpine
8- sold this "south alpine" to somebody in NY and then admited it was a castolon later (source of "bust")
9- raided the house I was at with body armor and drawn weapons to arrest me on 5 counts of using my motor vehicle to hunt (like that was needed, a rumor spread in Lajitas about the "drug bust" by the NPS agents --- go figure that one out?)
10- arrested everybody he could on anything he could make up (source of the # of citations)
11- charges were dropped as fast as they were filed as the case was crap and they knew it
12- left a wake of hard feelings, financial ruin, divorce and heartache behind this investigation
13- just made crap up to put in a press release for the success of operation rockcut (I have a copy)
14- on the hwy385 entrance visitor center they have a display case with a magazine open to operation rockcut ----- It is still a matter of pride to them despite the facts and failures

Lance Benton

PS they still claim over 200 snakes a night are poached in the park whish is ridiculous to say the least.

*

Offline Big Lizard

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 7
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2007, 08:22:03 PM »
So, here is an analogy.

A liscensed hunter spends the weekend on his/her own private property on Terlingua Ranch (outside BBNP).  After his/her succesful weekend s/he decides that s/he wants to check out the park before heading home.  S/He has a kill with him/her in the back of the truck.  Also, this person happens to have a weapon, but follows park regulations (everything is taken apart and unloaded).

Do you think that they would have a problem with LE?  Of course they would!

This is a matter of common sense.  I do not know the individual mentioned and am not questioning their understanding of the regs. Yet, rules are rules.  Also, these rules have been in place for a long time.  So, if you are a proffesional collector/hunter with proper state liscences consider contacting a wildlife biologist or LE ranger prior to your visit to discuss your intentions to collect elsewhere and travel through.

I want to simpathize, but just cannot.  However, while the rules are the rules.  That does not mean that they make sense.  NP visitors deserve revised rules on observing wildlife.  How many birders get away with using tools (pishing, binoculars, play-back tapes) yearly.  Meanwhile the herping community is regularly subjected to profiling.

*

SHANEA

  • Guest
AP
« Reply #34 on: June 27, 2007, 08:53:02 PM »
That is an Awesome Picture of a fox :!:

*

Offline JeffB

  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 232
    • http://www.astroforecast.org/bbindex.html
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #35 on: June 27, 2007, 09:15:11 PM »
Me and my Big Bend buddy are huge herpers.  We schedule our visit each year around the end of September particularly for the best opportunity to find reptiles.  I know you feel the same, Daryl,  and many others in this forum.  We are definitely AGAINST COLLECTING.  We have found and photographed every species of venomous snake in the park except the trans-pecos copperhead.  We're still looking for the copperhead and it will be a primary goal to find one this year.

I must say that I support rangers setting a high priority on protecting snakes and other reptiles in the park. For that reason I support everything the rangers do, even if it results in a reasonable vehicle search.  My truck was searched and I have no complaints.  More power to 'em.  They are very reasonable and won;t confiscate anything or ticket you unless you are a threat to one of the treasures of the park.  It's all about protecting the snakes and other reptiles, not about targeting and running off the reptile enthusiast or confiscating property.
Jeff Bullard
Dallas, TX

*

Offline Casa Grande

  • Site Founder
  • Administrator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 6230
  • Bending It Since 1991
    • Virtual Big Bend
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #36 on: June 28, 2007, 09:19:04 AM »
Quote from: "JeffB"
 It's all about protecting the snakes and other reptiles, not about targeting and running off the reptile enthusiast or confiscating property.


exactly

*

Offline LBenton

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 2
If they use a decoy (fake snake)
« Reply #37 on: June 28, 2007, 02:01:05 PM »
And that decoy is what you stopped to look at, would you be happy to spend a half hour or better on the side of the road letting them search your vehicle?

The fact is that they have a track record of dealing with people interested in observing reptiles that is very different than those that observe other wildlife in the park.

Like I said, I just go somewhere else and leave the park alone for my interest in Herps, but back in 1994 even that was not good enough. They really went out of their way that year. In fact they proudly display literature both in the visitor centers and online that sell the sting operation to the public as a success when in fact the charges had to be dropped on everybody because of the questionable methods they used to catch people.

I think this guy did not make the smartest move when he went through the park. But he was more than likely not hunting to take anything out of the park, after all it is a shortest route from Black Gap / Stillwell to Terlingua. He also had all the proper documentation for what he was doing while out of the park.

Now what I would like to know are these little factoids:
What happened to the animals that were seized (I really hope they were not released into the park)?
What grounds were there to confiscate the permit? It is not a violation to have paperwork in the park as long as you do not litter after all.

The response I would have respected, assuming the ranger believed the animals were not taken the park would be to escort him out and give some sort of warning. No reason to throw the book at somebody when they just do not know the rules of the game.

*

Offline Boojum1

  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 324
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #38 on: June 29, 2007, 10:09:05 AM »
I've been known to collect cactus (segments, not whole plants) from private land with permission in WTX.  I would never ever have those in my vehicle in BiBe.  Just wouldn't be right, plus I'd have a hard time proving it.  Now, I might just have a well concealed firearm if I was to be camping solo on the backroads.
Pithy quote free for years

*

Offline Hayduke

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 155
Re: If they use a decoy (fake snake)
« Reply #39 on: June 29, 2007, 10:49:22 AM »
Quote from: "LBenton"
And that decoy is what you stopped to look at, would you be happy to spend a half hour or better on the side of the road letting them search your vehicle?


Yes.

And since I would never carry all the other gear that would make them suspicious I'll bet it would be a lot less than a half hour.

*

Offline presidio

  • Soaptree Yucca
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3497
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #40 on: June 30, 2007, 09:47:50 PM »
Quote from: "SA Bill"
If the Ranger in the above scenario asks to search my vehicle and I refuse, what happens?


Asking to search your vehicle means the officer does not have probable cause to search or even to further detain you. If he did, he wouldn't need your permission. Absent probable cause, he needs either your consent or a warrant. With probable cause, he may perform a warrantless search of a motor vehicle (or anywhere else).

Your refusal to consent does not in any way enhance his ability to develop probable cause; it is not an element in the process. Folks who have done nothing wrong are uneasy about denying a search and the technique of asking for permission usually results in the person granting the request because they think it may provoke suspicion if they refuse.

Could it provoke suspicion? Sure, especially when dealing with a rookie cop but, again, the officer has to be able to articulate why he is doing what he is doing.

It is nothing more than a fishing expedition. Watch 'Cops' or other police shows and you'll occasionally see the same thing. If you consent, no officer is not going to take the opportunity to have a look. You have just opened the door for them to look at whatever they want. If they have made a lawful 'stop' for some articulable reason, they don't need any further justification to ask for a consent search...they can ask simply because they  are curious or even to see what you'll say to the request.

If you refuse, you may actually catch the officer off guard since it is relatively rare for people to refuse. Should your detention continue or an unlawful search occur, and you have done nothing wrong, the officer has just exposed himself and his agency to legal issues that neither will really want to deal with should you pursue redress.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

*

Offline presidio

  • Soaptree Yucca
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3497
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #41 on: June 30, 2007, 10:11:44 PM »
Quote from: "Casa Grande"
The same is true if you have a sotol stick in your vehicle. The officials don't know if you've taken it from the park or not.


Which is why the burden is on them to show you DID take it from the park. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty. The NPS is all too quick on the trigger to assume you are guilty without proof (and, yes, there are some...maybe many....guilty people who don't get caught, but that does not lessen the proof standard for any person).

I don't condone people violating law/regulations (even ones I don't agree with). However, overzealous enforcement is something to guard against as well.

Did that sotol (or whatever) in the car come from the park? Maybe. But no ranger can in good conscience take an enforcement action solely on the basis of merely seeing it in the vehicle. At least let's hope that none of them do. Seeing such items in a vehicle clearly gives a reason to investigate/inquire further, but absent other evidence or an admission by a suspect, there is no basis for action unless the NPS is poised to make everything that possibly could be found in a park contraband to possess. Not very realistic, even though that sure seems to be where they are headed. As I've noted before, sotol stalks are available over a much larger area than the park.

Now, the issue with the herper is a one-sided story, and one-sided stories always favor the teller. The way to resolve this particular incident is for the suspect to have his day in court. However, as he has noted, balancing the cost of the ticket with the cost of contesting it may be decided in favor of convenience rather than justice. Each person has to make that judgment. If it were me (and it wouldn't be) I would take my day in front of the judge.

On the whole there is a disturbing thread that becomes ever more apparent. The NPS is becoming a lot like zero tolerance in schools, where there is no common sense just witless enforcement. Remember, you are in 'their' park, not 'your' park.

There is a mindset that 'you' are doing something wrong, even without the hint of suspicion.

Many years ago, I was camped at Terlingua Abaja in the dead of summer. I suppose that was somewhat unusual for the location and temperature. The two in my vehicle were the only people there. In the late afternoon the ranger came along. I was sitting behind my truck in a lawn chair drinking a beer as the shade from the nearby hill was creeping my way.

The ranger did not see me initially, but did see my wife. He walked up, said 'hi' to her as he let the drug dog run down the side of my truck (it was all very obvious what was going on). All the while I could hear him talking to her and see his and the dog's legs as they made their way toward me.

He never did ask my wife if she was with anyone, so he was understandably surprised when he got to the end of the truck and saw me. Rover knew but he wasn't talking.

As soon as the startle factor subsided, the very next words out of his mouth were: 'I want to see your camping permit, IF YOU HAVE ONE'. The tone was clear that he presumed I did not have the necessary permit (which of course I did), and was presented as a demand rather than a request. He made a very poor first impression, even though we ended up chatting nicely for the better part of an hour after he was satisfied I was up to his and park standards for behavior. He would have achieved so much more to merely ask to see my permit and then go from there. Had I not had a permit he would have found out just as quickly and more professionally.

He didn't seem to be having a bad day. He was just in the mode of believing everyone was a suspect until proven otherwise. That's a different thing from being alert for safety purposes (but he failed that test as well).

Now I'm sure someone will think I should have made my presence known as soon as he drove up. But, there was no reason for me to do so; I wasn't hiding, I was sitting out in the open. Had the tables been turned, I would never have assumed an attractive young woman was out there alone. It's called being aware of your surroundings.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

*

Offline presidio

  • Soaptree Yucca
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3497
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #42 on: June 30, 2007, 10:25:42 PM »
Quote from: "JeffB"
For that reason I support everything the rangers do, even if it results in a reasonable vehicle search.  My truck was searched and I have no complaints. More power to 'em.  


I hope that was because you consented. If you didn't that would scare me more than anything else. Abuse of power is antithical to constitutional protections. You might find that acceptable, I don't.

Quote
They are very reasonable and won;t confiscate anything or ticket you unless you are a threat to one of the treasures of the park.


Being 'reasonable' is not a condition of performing a search. Nor is being a 'threat'. The requirement is 'probable cause' or 'consent'.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

*

Offline JeffB

  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 232
    • http://www.astroforecast.org/bbindex.html
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #43 on: July 01, 2007, 12:10:32 AM »
Quote from: "presidio"
Quote from: "JeffB"
For that reason I support everything the rangers do, even if it results in a reasonable vehicle search.  My truck was searched and I have no complaints. More power to 'em.  


I hope that was because you consented. If you didn't that would scare me more than anything else. Abuse of power is antithical to constitutional protections. You might find that acceptable, I don't.

Quote
They are very reasonable and won;t confiscate anything or ticket you unless you are a threat to one of the treasures of the park.


Being 'reasonable' is not a condition of performing a search. Nor is being a 'threat'. The requirement is 'probable cause' or 'consent'.


Yes they asked to search and I consented.  I would rarely take an adversarial stance when park rangers are doing their job.  We had nothing to hide and their approach was proper under the circumstances.   From our conversation with them it was clear that they loved the park and  seemed like a couple young rangers driven by their ideals about the park.

I had a much different experience with a park ranger at Enchanted Rock and a border agent at Del Rio but that's another story.
Jeff Bullard
Dallas, TX

*

Offline presidio

  • Soaptree Yucca
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3497
Caution: Snake Watchers MAY be Targets of Strict Enforcement
« Reply #44 on: July 01, 2007, 12:44:26 AM »
Quote from: "JeffB"
Yes they asked to search and I consented.


That's proper.

Quote
I would rarely take an adversarial stance when park rangers are doing their job.  We had nothing to hide and their approach was proper under the circumstances.


It's not adversarial to exercise your rights, even though it might feel that way.

Quote
I had a much different experience with a park ranger at Enchanted Rock and a border agent at Del Rio but that's another story.


I'm all ears.  :D
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

 


©COPYRIGHT NOTICE

All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments