Wildlife: Herp regulations harder to find than herps
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It surprises many Pennsylvanians that reptiles and amphibians are managed and protected by the Fish and Boat Commission. A valid fishing license is required to take bullfrogs, snapping turtles and other reptiles and amphibians, otherwise known as herptiles or "herps."
Complicating this is that a fishing license is required to take herps from the waters of the commonwealth, but a fishing license is not required to take herps from the lands of the commonwealth.
Unfortunately, Fish and Boat does not make its jurisdiction clear on its website, http://fishandboat.com. I can find nothing on the main page indicating that herp harvests are regulated through Fish and Boat. The agency assumes everyone knows that.
Under FAQs on the main page, click on "Amphibians and Reptiles," then "Summary Book." At that point, redirect to http://fishinpa.com, then under Regulations by Species click on "Reptiles & Amphibians."
Finally you've reached the regulations for harvesting reptiles and amphibians. Fish and Boat couldn't have made finding these regs more difficult if it had tried. Why not a simple "Herp" icon on the main page?
Space prohibits a complete listing of Pennsylvania's herp harvest seasons and limits, but the heading Regulations by Species offers a full description.
To simplify, below is a brief if incomplete summary of herp regulations..
• Bullfrog and northern green frog season runs July 1 through Oct. 31. Daily limit is 10 combined species; possession limit is 20 combined species.
• Snapping turtle season runs July 1 through Oct. 31 with a daily limit of 15 and a possession limit of 30.
• There is no closed season on amphibian eggs and tadpoles, though the limit is 15 at any time.
• The season for timber rattlesnakes and northern copperheads runs June 9 through July 31, with an annual limit of one.
• The following herps have no closed season, though each has a daily limit and possession limit of one: eastern garter snake, eastern milk snake, eastern rat snake, northern ringneck snake, eastern mud turtle, eastern musk turtle, eastern and midland painted turtle, eastern spiny softshell, wood frog, spring peeper, eastern American toad, eastern gray tree frog, Fowler's toad, northern leopard frog, Allegheny mountain dusky salamander, eastern redback salamander and eastern red-spotted newt.
• Endangered and threatened reptiles and amphibians have no open season and may not be captured or possessed. These species include, but are not limited to: eastern massasauga, rough green snake, eastern smooth green snake, eastern hognose snake, eastern fence lizard, bog turtle, wood turtle, eastern box turtle, eastern hellbender and mudpuppy.
Note that box turtles, often found by children, are protected and may not be captured or possessed.
First Published June 17, 2012 12:00 am