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Field Herping Ethically and Responsibly

Here is a list of ethical principles, rules, and tips that we believe are essential for all field herpers and will improve the quality of your herper and your safety in the field. These are all things that we personally think are important and obviously you should make your own decisions in the field based on your own authority. Enjoy!

1. The most important thing about entering the field is to be legal. Make sure you have the proper licenses and documentation required for your area and that you are only hosting parties that you have legal access to. Property owners in many areas of the U.S. they will shoot at trespassers on the spot and this is a situation we would strongly recommend you easily avoid by following your local laws.

2. Collecting snakes from the wild has been heavily debated with the vast number of bloodlines bred in captivity. We don’t take species from the wild, but if you decide you think it’s okay, make sure you’re familiar with what species are protected and if collecting is allowed in your area. Permits are also required in some states to keep, breed and sell native fauna, so this should also be researched. We would also advise you to note that your collection can destroy or destroy a population of fauna in an area very quickly.

3. An essential tool for all field herbivores is a quality field guide that allows natural history facts, descriptions and pictorial representations of native species to aid in identification. We would advise you to memorize and know ALL native poisonous species in your area by sight, as all it takes is one misidentification to cause serious consequences.

4. When in the field, you will likely use the tipping or bark ripping method, and there are some ethical concerns that arise with these two methods. When you turn the cover or remove the bark, you expose a very important microhabitat that is alive and thriving under that cover. As a field herper, your dedication is to finding herpers, but first and foremost it should be to preserve the animals you love to hunt so much. Make sure you take care to do as little damage as possible to the natural cover these animals seek by replacing items where you found them. It’s usually best to replace things, but in some cases you may have the opportunity to create a microhabitat from recently fallen trees or limbs, in which case you can leave a spot better than you found it. The unethical herp seems to be rampant in our community with young herps not taking the time to replace the cover and destroy the habitat because they don’t think it’s worth enjoying. Just because you didn’t find an animal under that particular log on that occasion, doesn’t mean it might not be used 3 hours later by a huge king or a gorgeous Milk.

All cover, large or small, must be treated as if it were valuable, and this should be your greatest concern in the field. The more we creep, the more we see our normal parts torn apart by other creeps who don’t share those values ​​and don’t seem to understand how nature works. So we ask you to think about these things and if it was worth the time and effort to pick up the rock or log, then it is worth the effort to replace it where you found it because that is more important. Not only that, but moral herpes like this will be rewarded with more respect in the field from your peers and more invitations to pursue bigger, better hunts down the line. Ethical herpes is smart herpes, and smart herpes leads to better conservation, more finds, and more fun!

5. A great place to find information, locations and fellow reptiles is the local Herpetological Societies and Conservation Organizations in your area. These can be great places to learn more about the art of field herping and improve your skills, as well as make new friends who share this common interest. We would recommend getting involved with these societies as they will benefit you and most of the monetary benefits from fees and fundraisers go straight back into conserving the wildlife you love and seek.

6. Handle poisonous snakes! We don’t doubt that you haven’t seen Steve Irwin, Jeff Corwin or Austin Stevens fight a venomous snake on TV in a theatrical way that makes it look awesome. We hate to disappoint you, but most of these stunts are done with planted, captive snakes that are accustomed to human presence. We personally had a close encounter with a venomous snake early in our herpes experiences, and from that incident we can safely say that the closest we have ever been to a venomous snake is the length of the hook or tongs we use to handle it. the. You should never catch, hold, touch or urinate a venomous snake unless you are keeping it or conducting scientific studies. These stunts are, in our opinion, just a way for them to reaffirm to themselves that they are “men” and get an adrenaline rush. We have taken many wonderful pictures of these beautiful, venomous animals and have never had to get any closer than our lens can take me. We would suggest taking photos from a distance and remember that most venomous North American species are unpredictable, heat sensitive and aggressive animals that deserve respect and distance. We hunt with puncture-resistant snake boots and photograph venomous snakes with a longer lens to increase the distance between us and the snake. North American snakes have an average strike distance of 1/3 their body length, with Western Diamondbacks having a slightly longer range and Coral Snakes having a shorter distance. Most poisonous species will pose perfectly for you without any modification at all, and everything that needs to be done can be done from the distance of a tongs or a hook. This is just our opinion and as a disclaimer we would like to encourage everyone to avoid handling venomous snakes while in the field and if you feel uncomfortable when encountering a venomous snake, simply turn and back away slowly to diffuse the situation as much as possible with security.

We would like to end this section with a quick overview of our own venomous snake bite procedures, and if you live in an area where venomous snakes are found, we would suggest that you come up with a procedure of your own.

In case of venomous snake bite:

1. Properly identify the snake that bit you so that proper antivenom procedures can be taken when you get to the hospital.

2. DON’T PANIC!! Increased blood flow only worsens the effects of the poison, so try to raise the limb and remain as still and calm as possible. Don’t run and make sure you keep a slow heart rate so you don’t worsen your condition by helping the poison spread.

3. If you have a cell phone available (and you should) call 911 and let them know you were bitten, what bit you and where you are. This should initiate an anticonvulsant investigation as quickly as possible and an ambulance should be dispatched to you. After this phone call, we call a friend or family member who is nearby so they know what has happened and where we are so they can contact us as soon as possible.

4. There are many “snake bite kits” on the market today, but none have been proven to reduce the effects or severity of a bite. We do not carry a bite kit with us, but we do carry a quick tourniquet in case of a bite. If you plan on having to leave a tourniquet on for long periods of time then we would advise you NOT to use it, but extremities may be fine with a tourniquet applied for a while. My plan is to flush the wound thoroughly with bottled water and apply the tourniquet upstream of the bite but as locally as possible. DO NOT CUT THE GRAPES OR SUCK THE POISON WITH YOUR MOUTH!! This does not help and only hurts the bitten area more.

5. Try to move as calmly and slowly as possible to a safe pickup point for the ambulance or your friend to pick you up and take you to the hospital. Keep your mind alert and focused so you can respond when they arrive, as this is your best chance for recovery and survival.

6. Know what you are given medicinally, as many hospitals do not have good poisoning procedures and may try to give you drugs that may make your condition worse before it improves. They try to help, but snakebites don’t happen often. Notify the medical team of any allergies that may conflict with what is prescribed and be aware of what is happening around you.

DENIAL OF RESPONSIBILITY: These are OUR precautions and procedures and are not here to ensure your safety or survival. It is only a summary to give you an idea of ​​how to deal with an accidental poisoning. We would suggest that you contact your local hospital and see what their procedures are, as well as researching other procedures to come up with your own.

We hope these tips and ethics have given you some insight into how best to conduct yourself in the field and encouraged you to take up the hobby of field hunting. It’s really awesome to see the snakes we love so much in their natural habitat and it’s a great way to help conservationists and researchers by keeping good records and promoting these values. Enjoy herpes in your field and share your experiences and passions with others through photography and chat.

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