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Utah board makes it easier to collect non-venomous native reptiles, amphibians

The Utah Wildlife Board last week approved a new rule that makes it easier to collect amphibians or reptiles, like this common side-blotched lizard found in the wild.
The Utah Wildlife Board last week approved a new rule that makes it easier to collect amphibians or reptiles, like this common side-blotched lizard found in the wild.
Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Wildlife Board last week approved a new rule that makes it easier to collect amphibians or reptiles found in the wild.

The rule change, which will take effect Jan. 1, simplifies the process for collecting, possessing and breeding nonvenomous native reptiles and amphibians. It will also allow for the sale of captive-born reptiles and amphibians.

Previously, those interested in collecting, possessing or breeding the animals were required to obtain a certificate of registration, which could be complicated and sometimes expensive.

The new rule requires collectors to take an online education course covering the laws, safety considerations and conservation ethics, and obtain a permit online. The education course certificate is valid for three years.

The new rule excludes sensitive species, including the Gila monster, Mojave desert tortoise, Arizona toad, Western boreal toad, relict leopard frog and Columbia spotted frog.

There is also a limit on the number of animals that can be collected. The limit varies from species to species.

While the new rule is similar to laws in other states, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is including a rule that requires people report online where they captured the animals within 72 hours to help biologists study the activity and distribution of many of the native species.

Utah is home to approximately 61 native species of reptiles and 15 native species of amphibians.

“There isn’t a good way right now to know how many there are of several of these species,” Drew Dittmer, the division’s native species coordinator, said in a statement. “The online community science reporting is exciting and is the biggest thing I’m looking forward to with this new proposal. There are people out there who already monitor reptiles and amphibians in their spare time, so requiring them to report it will give us data that will help us better manage these species.”

Those interested in collecting and possessing venomous reptiles are still required to get a registration certificate and be at least 18 years old. Even with a certificate, collectors are required to follow their city ordinances to make sure they can legally keep venomous reptiles. And nonnative venomous species are still not allowed in Utah without obtaining a variance from the wildlife board.