Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I don’t have much to report in this post. A lot of family was in town over the weekend for Passover and we only managed to get out a little late morning on Saturday (April 19th). The herping was a little disappointing; we hit the brown snake hot spots and some other prospective sites and we only found redback salamanders (Plethodon cinereus). I know, redbacks are beautiful salamanders, and I do like looking at them, but after a spring of finding them under every board and log, seeing more redbacks is kind of like finding robins on your front lawn.

The weather Saturday was particularly warm for this time of year, and maybe the snakes weren’t tempted to come close to the surface. Also there’s a chance the brown snakes (Storeria dekayi) haven’t made it very far from the winter dens yet. Last, the West Parkside Industrial Park hotspot is gone, so there’s no chance of getting close to the only big den I’ve located so far.

More interesting was that yesterday Scott and I got our venomous snake hunting licenses in the mail. The licenses entitle us to kill one timber rattler (Crotalus horridus) and one copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). Don’t worry, we’re not planning to kill anything, but we decided to get the licenses just the same. For one, they lend us some legitimacy out in the field. If we’re stopped by a conservation officer on a ridge somewhere upstate, we can demonstrate that we’re part of a legal process and that we’re not poachers. The other reason is that it makes us fees-paying members of the Fish and Boat Commission’s public. State game agencies are designed to serve hunters and fishers, people who pay for licenses and then follow rules and regulations while out in the field. Now we’re not just a couple guys flipping rocks; we’ve paid our share into the funds that maintain the natural resources we enjoy, and we can feel entitled to some respect from F&B. I don’t mean to imply that we anticipate getting harassed by conservation officers (I’ve only met one and it went well – in New Jersey), but we’re happy to have a little more standing with the bureaucracy that comes closest to managing herping.