1. Respect the welfare of the animals and their habitats
- Reptiles and amphibians should not be harassed or captured during surveys. Handling these species can cause stress or injury to the animals, and it is illegal to harm, harass, capture or kill most species of reptiles and amphibians under the provincial Endangered Species Act, the federal Species at Risk Act and the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
- When identifying or photographing an individual, ensure that you do not cause unnecessary stress to the animal by getting too close or lingering for too long. Handling an animal that is listed as threatened or endangered under the Ontario Endangered Species Act for any purpose, including photography, is illegal.
- Take all precautions necessary to avoid damage to the habitat of the species you are searching for. Never trample sensitive areas, remove vegetation or alter habitat in any way during surveys. Stay on trails and roads where they exist. Never drive ATVs or any vehicles off-road, as this causes habitat destruction, especially in sensitive areas such as wetlands. It is illegal to damage or destroy habitat of threatened and endangered species, and such actions are contrary to the conservation focus of this project.
- Never make the locations of rare species publicly available. Poaching is a serious threat to many species of reptiles in Ontario. Revealing the locations of populations predisposes them to local extinction from poaching. Detailed location information should only be reported to the atlas, other recognized conservation programs and appropriate government agencies, such as the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment Canada or Parks Canada.
2. Respect property rights
- If you wish to survey private property, make sure that you obtain prior permission from the landowner. It is recommended that you always have one of the atlas brochures with you to show interested landowners or other individuals who may question your activities.
- Respect the rules and permitted activities of the areas you are surveying. For example, many provincial parks, national parks or other privately owned reserves ask that you not venture off certain trails to avoid trampling habitat.
3. Always put safety first
- Make sure you let someone know where you are going before heading out in the field.
- Always take a compass with you to avoid getting lost and familiarize yourself with the area ahead of time using topographic maps or Google Earth.
- Ensure that you take any other safety equipment you may need, such as a whistle, first aid kit and bear protection.
4. Encourage reptile and amphibian stewardship and conservation
- Public outreach and education is a critical part of reptile and amphibian conservation. Please take the time to explain the atlas project to interested people and encourage their participation.
- Discuss reptile and amphibian conservation with others and provide information about local species (except the locations of rare species), conservation issues, threats and stewardship opportunities.