Outposts

Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Snakes

Fish and Game department reminds Californians about rattlesnakes

Mojave rattlesnake

California is home to more than half a dozen species of rattlesnakes. As the weather warms the state's only native venomous snake becomes more active, increasing the likelihood of their being encountered both in the wilderness and in residential areas.

While the odds of being bitten by a rattlesnake are slim (there are about 800 cases nationwide reported annually to the American Assn. of Poison Control Centers) and should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors, the California Department of Fish and Game shares the following precautionary tips which can lessen the chance of being bitten when out in snake country:

-- Wear hiking boots and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.

-- When hiking, stick to well-used trails. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.

-- Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step on logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. 

-- Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.

-- Never grab "sticks" or "branches" while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.

-- Be careful when stepping over door sills as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edges of buildings where they are protected on one side.

-- Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.

-- Do not handle a freshly killed snake, as it can still inject venom.

-- Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone.

Information on rattlesnake identification and what to do in the event of a snake bite can be found on the California Poison Control website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Mojave rattlesnake. Credit: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

 

La Jolla man dies from rattlesnake bite during volunteer trout study

William 'Skip' Price, who died from a rattlesnake bite Wednesday during a volunteer trout study.
Avid fly-fisherman William "Skip" Price died after being bitten by a rattlesnake Wednesday while on a volunteer trout study project along Boulder Creek, west of Lake Cuyamaca near Julian, Calif.

The 67-year-old La Jolla resident was one of six volunteers on a trout project with his fly-fishing club, the Golden State Flycasters.

On-hand to conduct a study of native steelhead, the volunteers were to catch trout in isolated waterways, weigh and measure them, then take a genetic sample and release them, Gary Strawn, another project volunteer, told the San Diego Union Tribune. The purpose of the study, funded by a California Department of Fish and Game grant, was to identify native species and develop a breeding program.

Price, who was wearing water sandles, had just started hiking in the stream bed when he was struck above his right ankle by a large, venomous rattlesnake, Strawn said. Price lost consciousness shortly after being bitten, and his heart stopped. Club members and then paramedics performed CPR, but failed to revive him.

Strawn said he didn’t see the snake, "but it must have been a big one. The bite marks on top of his foot were an inch and a half across."

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Fish and Game Q&A: Is it legal to use submerged lights when night fishing lakes? [Updated]

Sunset fishing.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: Is it legal to use the assistance of a submerged light source in the taking of trout, crappie and maybe even some cats in California? The lights might include waterproof flashlights or standard 12-volt drop down fishing lights (made by Optronics) and maybe a floating crappie light. (Daniel V.S.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal to use lights when fishing at night when and where such fishing is permitted. Lights may be used on or as part of any fishing tackle (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.15). Just make sure that the waters where you plan to fish allow for nighttime fishing. Some lake managers or concessionaires at managed lakes do not allow for any fishing after dark. 

When it comes to trout or salmon though, it is not legal to take them at night in many waters. For exceptions to this rule where trout and salmon may be taken at night, please review CCR Title 14, section 3.00 found on page 14 in the 2010 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Q: Is it legal for me to carry a concealed handgun in California if I have a CCW permit from a neighboring state?

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Snake avoidance clinic for dogs

'Tis the season for rattlesnake avoidance clinics for dogs. Last week in Outposts, I mentioned a clinic going on Saturday and Sunday at Tapia Park in Calabasas, sponsored by the Mountains Restoration Trust.

Baby rattler For you San Gabriel Valleyites, there's a snake avoidance clinic for dogs sponsored by Quail Unlimited, also on Saturday and Sunday. This one will be at Sierra Madre Dog Park, costs $65 and will be conducted by Robert Kettle, a herpetologist from Nevada who's done similar clinics for various wildlife agencies and the military.

Even if your dog gets a rattlesnake vaccine, these clinics are a good idea for anyone who takes their dogs on SoCal trails. Anyone who's had a dog struck by a rattler knows it's a losing proposition. Getting a bitten dog off the trail and to a vet that has antivenin on hand is no easy task. Best to train Fido to avoid snakes in the first place, and hopefully alert you to rattlers on the trail, one of the goals of these clinics.

— Julie Sheer.

Photo: A baby rattlesnake at Will Rogers State Historic Park. Credit: Julie Sheer

Special Everglades python-hunting season ends with no snakes taken

A Burmese python is coiled around the arm of a hunter during a news conference announcing a special season for the capture and removal of reptiles of concern from state-managed lands around the Everglades.

The six-week special hunting season for the capture and removal of reptiles of concern from state-managed lands around the Florida Everglades has come to an end with no snakes taken.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists believe that the cold snap that hit the state this winter may have had something to do with the lack of snakes.

"Based on observations and reports from python removal permit holders, biologists and hunters, we believe 50 percent of the wild Burmese python population died as a result of the record cold weather," the commission’s exotic-species section leader Scott Hardin said in a news release. "These seasonal kills are beneficial in helping to control nonnative reptile populations."

Occurring immediately before the pythons’ mating season, commission officials hope the cold snap also hindered the snakes' reproductive season this year.

The hunting season, which ran from March 8 to April 17, took place in the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor, Holey Land and Rotenberger wildlife management areas after the close of small-game season.

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I use ground Yucca plant roots to fish?

Native American fishing along the Trinity River, Calif. In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: There is an old legend that local Native Americans used to grind up the roots of Yucca plants and spread them in the water to "stun" fish so they could collect them. Can I use this as a fishing method? (Jeff, Riverside County)

Answer: No. Although that may have been how Native Americans historically fished and a seemingly natural method, today the use of chemicals of any type is not a legal method of take. According to Department of Fish and Game Warden Patrick Foy, fish must be taken by angling, which is defined under the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 1.05 as “to take fish by hook and line with the line held in the hand, or with the line attached to a pole or rod held in the hand or closely attended in such manner that the fish voluntarily takes the bait or lure in its mouth” (exceptions are listed in Section 2 of the fishing regulations, under Fishing Methods and Gear Restrictions).

Adding these ground-up root chemicals to the water would also be unlawful because it is generally illegal to deposit in, permit to pass into, or place where it can pass into the waters of this state any substance or material deleterious to fish, plant life or bird life (Fish and Game Code, section 5650[a][6]). In addition, FGC, section 5650(a)(5) specifically prohibits the use of Cocculus indicus, the plant from which these legends are derived.

Q: I would like a clarification on the use of cast nets in inland waters. I see people using them both at Clear Lake and in the Delta. As far as I know, it is illegal to use anything larger than a dip net or a trap not more than three feet in greatest dimension. Cast nets are not mentioned in the regulation booklet. (Dave, Clearlake)

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I use fish carcasses to bait my crab traps?

Dungeness crabs in a crab trap.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday afternoon or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I belong to a popular fishing forum on the Internet, and most of my fellow sport fishermen say that when they bait their crab traps/pots, they can use whatever bait they want. Many people are using the carcasses from regulated game fish, such as rockfish, after the fish have been filleted. During previous salmon seasons, they used salmon carcasses too. Isn’t there something in the regulations about this subject? If a person saves their fish carcasses in their freezer, for instance, and then goes out and uses those carcasses in their crab traps, isn’t that still considered "possession"? If I put out crab pots baited with rockfish carcasses, spend the day catching my limit of rockfish and then come back to pull my pots to head back in, I not only have my legal limit of fresh rockfish, but also a bunch of other rockfish carcasses. And what about having those carcasses when a fish isn’t even in season?

I seem to be alone in believing that we need to follow certain rules about using fish as crab bait, and now I am very anxious to clear this up once and for all, with your help. Thank you so much for your time and consideration in this matter. (Cat C., North Fork)

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Special Everglades python-hunting season created

A 12-foot Burmese python that was captured in the backyard of a home in Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced the opportunity for hunters to access state-managed lands around the Everglades in order to capture and remove reptiles of concern.

The specially created season will take place March 8 to April 17, after the close of small game season in the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor, Holey Land, and Rotenberger wildlife management areas.

"We are once again engaging our stakeholders, in this case, the hunting community, to help us reduce the number of reptiles of concern in the Everglades," said FWC chairman Rodney Barreto. "Our hunters are on the front lines, and we hope, by tapping into their knowledge of the Everglades, we can make significant progress in this effort."

Hunters must possess a valid hunting license and pay a $26 management area permit fee to hunt the regions for pythons, green anaconda and Nile monitor lizards, all invasive species that are threatening native wildlife. The reptiles may not be removed from the wildlife management areas alive.

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Florida store owner faces charges in probe of python sales

One of two pythons seized during an undercover operation into the illegal sale of such reptiles.

Pythons have become a huge problem in the Florida wilderness, where it is believed that snake owners released them when they became too large to manage. The reptiles have been thriving and reproducing and have become a threat to native wildlife.

The predicament is so prevalent in the South Florida region that Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials announced that state-sanctioned hunting of the invasive species will be a year-round effort starting in January.

The FWC has also mandated regulations in the care and keeping of pythons. Owners must be licensed annually, and snakes larger than 2 inches in diameter must be implanted with a microchip. There are also specific caging requirements.

Because of this, a Palm Beach County, Fla., store owner is facing charges of illegally selling two pythons to undercover investigators.

An anonymous tip led FWC investigators to Reptiles Plus Inc, owned by Boynton Beach resident Mark Bavosa, where an undercover officer posing as a customer inquired about purchasing pythons.

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Florida python hunts to be a year-round effort

A 12-foot Burmese python that was captured in the backyard of a home in Florida.

Florida wildlife officials have announced that the state-sanctioned hunting of Burmese pythons will be resumed in January and will be a year-round effort.

The four-month pilot hunting program ended in October, with 39 of the invasive species captured.

Snake owners who released pythons when they became too large to manage are believed largely responsible for this troubling phenomenon. The snakes, which are reproducing in the wild, have become a threat to native wildlife.

"We were able to collect some initial data during the first phase of this program that will help us determine the extent of the population on state-managed land," Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in a news release.

Applications are required and only qualified applicants will be approved. Florida residency is a must, as is possessing a reptile-of-concern permit plus experience in capturing and handling the snakes and knowledge of euthanizing reptiles.

The constrictors can measure 18 feet long and weigh 160 pounds, and wildlife officials say they could number in the tens of thousands in the South Florida region -- mostly in the Everglades.

"We want to continue allowing experts out there to ensure this exotic species does not spread any farther north in Florida," added Hardin.

--Kelly Burgess

Photo: A 12-foot Burmese python that was captured in the backyard of a home in Florida. Credit: Robert Sullivan / AFP/Getty Images

Florida python trapper faces charges for staging snake capture

A Burmese python captured in the Everglades.

A Florida man is facing criminal charges for staging the capture of a 14-foot Burmese python.

Justin Matthews, of Bradenton, Fla., was arrested this week following a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigation into a July incident.

Matthews, a professional nuisance animal trapper, called media to his neighborhood to witness the capture of a large Burmese python from a drainage pipe. Turns out, Matthews put the snake there in the first place and staged the whole event.

Matthews apparently purchased the reptile a month before from a licensed reptile dealer and released it to set up its capture to "bring attention to a growing problem of irresponsible pet ownership," according to an FWC news release.

His releasing of the reptile is a big no-no in Florida, which is having a huge problem with the invasive species and even held a state-sanctioned hunting program in an effort to eradicate the non-native pythons.

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Florida python hunt ends with 37 of the invasive reptiles being killed

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators remove an unlicensed Burmese python from a west central Florida home in September.

It has to be an unsettling situation for parents of small children and owners of small pets in South Florida, where thousands of Burmese pythons are slithering amok.

A state-sanctioned pilot hunting program aimed at determining location and formulating an eradication plan ended Saturday with 37 of the invasive reptiles being killed. 

"This was more about finding where they are and seeing if we can contain their expansion,'' Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the Miami Herald.

The constrictors can measure 18 feet long and weigh 160 pounds, and wildlife officials say they could number in the tens of thousands in the South Florida region -- mostly in the Everglades.

Snake owners who released pythons when they became too large to manage are believed largely responsible for this troubling phenomenon. The snakes, which are reproducing in the wild, have become a threat to native wildlife.

The wildlife commission is collecting data from the snakes killed so far and will expand the hunting program next year. Meanwhile, licensed hunters after other species can continue to kill pythons in designated areas, including parts of the Everglades around Big Cypress National Preserve.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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