Friday, May 25 , 2018, 7:40 pm | A Few Clouds 62º

 
 
 
 

Outdoors Q&A: Golfing with Rattlesnakes in Lake Tahoe

Keep eyes and ears open when searching for a golf ball away from the fairway

Q: For years I was always told there are no rattlesnakes in the Lake Tahoe area because the altitude was too high. However, recently I’ve read many articles that say rattlesnakes can live as high as 10,000 feet. I am worried because I play golf and often end up in the rough, which means looking for my golf ball in tall grass and brush. Are there rattlesnakes in the Lake Tahoe basin and surrounding areas that I need to be watching out for? (Nick R.)

A: The California Department of Fish & Game doesn’t track occurrences of common snake species, but according to Betsy Bolster, DFG statewide coordinator for conservation of amphibians and reptiles, don’t discount the possibility of encountering a rattlesnake in the Lake Tahoe area. The Great Basin rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus) is widespread and can occur up to the timberline.

According to references, the Great Basin Rattlesnake (subspecies, Crotalus oreganus lutosus) is found in California in the far northeastern corner and in a small region east of the Sierra Nevadas near the Mono Lake area. Its range continues outside the state to the north into Eastern Oregon, and east to western Utah, southern Idaho, most of Nevada and barely into extreme northwestern Arizona. Its preferred habitat includes rocky hillsides, barren flats, sagebrush, grassy plains and agricultural areas.

You should know, though, that rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive, and will usually only strike when threatened or deliberately provoked. Given room they will likely retreat. Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing. The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles.

The California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year, and only one to two deaths. About 25 percent of the bites are “dry,” meaning no venom was injected, but the bites still require medical treatment.

Given this, since your golf game, like mine, includes some time spent in the rough, I’d keep my eyes and ears open when searching for a golf ball away from the fairway. It might be worth it to hit the pro shop for some extra golf balls rather than taking chances on whether you are in rattlesnake habitat. Fore!

Knife Rules

Q: I will be going camping next week at a place called Hell Hole Reservoir near Lake Tahoe, and I need to know if I may bring a jeep survival knife with me. The knife has a 15-inch blade with a sheath. I know you are not allowed to carry a knife more than 3 inches long in California, but I need to know if there is an exception for camping. (Mitch L.)

A: There is no Fish and Game law regarding your knife, and I am not aware of any law regarding knives with blades that are longer than 3 inches.

According to retired DFG Capt. Phil Nelms, “generally prohibited weapons are listed in California Penal Code, section 16590, and special provisions regarding knives and similar weapons begin at section 20200. You may want to pay special attention to sections 21310 and 16470 regarding concealed dirks and daggers, but knives with fixed blades are generally not prohibited as long as they are carried openly (not concealed).”

To check all the laws regarding knives online, please go to www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html. In addition, you may want to contact your local police or sheriff’s department for more information regarding dangerous weapons.

Tagging Abalone with Rubber Bands?

Q: After reading a recent answer to a diver who asked how to attach his abalone tag to a rare abalone he’d taken that had no siphon holes where he could affix the tag, I have a question. Some members of my dive club and I assisted DFG with the abalone creel survey last year. We noticed that some of the pickers we surveyed used rubber bands to attach the tags to the abalone. They just laid the tag on the shell and put the rubber band all the way around the abalone to hold the tag on. There were no holes in the tags. Is this a legal way to attach the tag? (Curt H.)

A: No, this is not legal. The law requires the tag be “… securely fastened to the shell of the abalone. To affix the tag, a “zip tie,” string, line or other suitable material shall be passed through a siphon hole on the abalone shell and through the tag at the location specified on the abalone tag” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.16 (b)(3)).

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >