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Spotlighting in National Parks?

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Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby InsaneBoost » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:07 am

What exactly are the rules on spotlights in National Parks, and or Yosemite/Sequoia? I love wildlife and would love to be able to see what the animals are up to at night, and wouldn't think this necessarily is a bad thing, is it? As far as harming animals and such?

My grandfather used them a lot on the farm to check out the fields and things like that, and I am by no means comparing National Parks to farms, but thought it might be something cool to do.

I also like shooting photography as some of you know, and sometimes that requires the night sky, which needless to say in the park is dark, so it'd be nice to be able to scan a field or wherever I'm at every so often just to make sure nothing is trying to sneak up.

I've read through the rules, and unless I overlooked it, I couldn't find anything saying you can or cannot use them.

Does anyone know for sure?

Thanks!



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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby rlown » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:16 am

If you've ever seen the show "Wild Justice" (CDFW wardens looking for poachers), there are many episodes where from the sky or road, they look for "spotlighters".

Even though not illegal to use one when NOT hunting, It would be a reason for them to ride up behind you with the reds and blues flashing to see if you are armed, and what your intent is.

For a definitive answer, just call the parks and ask them. Probably be a lot quicker and more accurate to hear it from them.
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby InsaneBoost » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:23 am

Yeah definitely have seen that show. Know all about the hunting stuff because of my grandfathers farm. Busy right now, hence the asking on here, but I'll give them a call later for sure.
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby InsaneBoost » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:00 pm

Here's the official word from Yosemite:

Spotlighing wildlife is illegal in Yosemite National Park because it disturbs wildlife (36 CFR 2.2e).
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby rlown » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:03 pm

:thumbsup: Thanks for checking!

Probably means other parks as well. But, remember you have headlights.. which work really great until that deer or bear decides to jump in front of your vehicle.
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby markskor » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:49 pm

Confused...(as usual)...just never heard the term.
What defines Spotlighting? Is it just shining a bright light around at night?
Do you have an offical "spotlight" per se, or does any uber-lumen device, blasted up in the trees qualify you as spotlighting?

As reported above - supposedly illegal in Yosemite but when taking an offical "midnight stroll with a Ranger", many lights were used?

Interesting statement made at one of those Ranger-led, Tuolumne campfires...
"80% of all life Sierra is nocturnal (or crepuscular)."
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby rlown » Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:04 pm

a "spotlight" is generally a very high powered light that needs a good battery source like a vehicle. Much different than a headlamp or flashlight. A spotlight generally is uber-lumen, like one million candlepower. I carry one in my truck, but only used on lakes when logs are laying in the water at night (lake Spaulding), or trying to find a campsite.

pretty sure my light could melt your tent even in the backpackers camp in Tuolumne. :D

Law enforcement will check with you if you use one anywhere.
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby RooPhillip » Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:00 pm

rlown wrote:pretty sure my light could melt your tent... :D


Haha! That's a funny image, Russ. Gotta say, having a light like that would have come in handy a time or two on a couple trips I can remember. :)
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby dave54 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 6:59 pm

rlown wrote:...
For a definitive answer, just call the parks and ask them. Probably be a lot quicker and more accurate to hear it from them.


If you call the main info line you will probably just get a volunteer or some half-trained seasonal. The answer they give may or may not be accurate. Using "the lady on the info line said it's OK" will not be a valid defense against a citation.

Ask for a Ranger or LE. Then you may get a more reliable answer. Even then, another Ranger may interpret the regulations differently and cite you in the field.

Make sure you lock down the legality before you go out. If you get cited for a fish and game regulation instead of a CFR you could be suspended from ANY fishing or hunting anywhere in California for a period of years, and any other state that honors a CA F&G suspension (most). An acquaintance of mine got caught fishing in Pyramid Lake, NV after he was suspended in CA and after receiving a verbal OK from some clerk on the phone in NV his suspension did not apply to tribal lands in Nevada. She was wrong, and now he has a probation violation in CA which cost him his job and a possible lifetime ban on fishing/hunting.
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 25, 2014 8:03 am

The human eye adjusts to low light quite well if you stay away from artificially bright lights. I would simply choose a moon-lit night and go sit somewhere to observe wildlife. I would think that shining a spotlight on wildlife would disturb them to the point that their behavior would become un-natural.
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Re: Spotlighting in National Parks?

Postby seanr » Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:26 am

I hike in the dark both on trails and cross country. Obviously it is sometimes easiest with a light, which often reflects eerie looking eyes that almost always turn out to be grazing deer. Timing, terrain, and flora often allow moonlight to provide more than ample light to my adjusted eyes. If I want to check out wildlife, I stop somewhere for awhile, remain quiet, let my eyes adjust, and listen. Absent moonlight, starlight and trekking poles are almost always enough to keep me from tripping or placing a foot poorly, so I often leave my light sources in my pack and use my senses. I don't always have him along and he's not allowed on national park trails, but bringing my yellow lab and his heightened sense of smell helps me stay on existing paths where they are faint, or through deep forest cover where it is usually very dark. Hopefully my senses, endurance, and agility won't fade very quickly through middle age. Maybe using them helps them stay sharp longer.

As to things sneaking up on you in the dark, I suggest getting used to it if you are lucky enough for it to happen and not worrying much about it if you want to do what you are describing. You want to see animals, right? Sure, be aware of the remote possibility of scenarios that could involve permanent harm to you and how to respond, but if you remain consistently wary of such things you might be better off at home rather than overreacting or facing an unnecessary confrontation in a place where you are clearly more of a guest.

Edit:

I'm pretty sure some types of night vision goggles are decent yet inexpensive.

Also, aside from those adapted/maladapted to and attracted by high concentrations of human visitors in the busiest areas, national parks aren't always home to more animals nor far superior scenery than other public lands. However, I'm aware that encounters with potentially dangerous humans (hunters, poachers, drunk target shooters, pot farmers, etc.) are probably more likely away from the most tourist friendly areas, yet near remote roads where seeing wildlife is also likely. At the same time, due to strategy and luck, I can't say I have had an encounter with humans that ended with me in great danger.
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