Birds of a feather . Like Brown , Dave Prival loves to expound his own personal obsessions about snake hunters. And both are more then happy to do this with a great deal of distortion. In the case of Brown and his buddys Stechert, Harwig and Martin. They leveraged their position by lying about how they surveyed hundreds of rattlesnake dens in every northern state. Anyone who knows what they talking about knows that this is impossible
given the time frame. They wrote the rattlesnake "conservation manual". A lie filled rant against their few and needed enemies. Basically a couple of collectors who caught rattlesnakes for the state of NY during the "bounty" years and knew that these scientists were flat out liars. Art and Rudy were the guys that showed the "experts", Brown and company how to find rattlesnakes. The manual has a few words about habitat destruction and 8 pages about the den raiders (see my last post it will help to clarify the reasoning behind this).
Brown couldn't find dens without Art and he hated Rudy and lied about him to the point of being psychotic. Rudy was no angel but the way Brown vilified him (gotta love all the A-Hole keyboard gangsters that trash Rudy based on the lies Brown spread) things got to the point that even Brown's followers thought Brown went to far. Back to AZ and the rattlesnake poachers,
Prival’s estimates that perhaps 70 twin-spotteds still dwell on this slope, down from an estimated 86 in 2009. Poaching is only making it worse. “If just seven of those snakes are taken by poachers,” he says, “that’s 10 percent of the population right there.”
Prival admits his number's are only guess's but he follows with a definitive statement that if seven of those snakes are taken by poachers,“that’s 10 percent of the population right there.” No it isn't 10 percent of the population. Its ten percent of the population that Dave could count. Any legitimate biologist will tell you its impossible to accurately count the number of snakes in any population. Even the(cough) great Bill Brown admits he can only count by complete guestimate maybe 25% of the rattlesnakes found in the "dens" he's been studying for 35yrs.
That's the beauty of it for the Dave Privals and Billy Browns of the world. They can just throw out numbers to fit whatever they need. For the fun of it lets say 70 snakes. Out of seventy snakes if this is a heathy functioning population certainly a good deal of breeding is taking place. But Dave's poor snakes are being reduced according to his guesswork at a rate of about 2 or 3 snakes a yr (roughly 3% or 4 %). Using exceptionally low ball numbers. Lets say out of 70 snakes. A total of 12 in the entire population (17%) are reproductively active females. If only 6 females ( say 9 %) breed based on a biennial reproductive cycle . Each produce 5 young (a very reasonable number for twin-spots) That's 30 young annually per season. If only 10% of the young survive (3 per yr) that would be sufficient recruitment to maintain the population. And this based on the most parsimonious estimate.
Pathologically Prival then says poaching is only making the declines worse and his proof. In TEN YEARS. ONE guy was busted with a SINGLE male twin Spotted rattlesnake. Prival milked this bust for all its worth (and still is) publishing a lengthy story that was more Hemmingway then scientist. A story that incuded this little disclaimer,
"Does the removal of a Twin-spotted Rattlesnake, a Banded Rock Rattlesnake, two Ridge- nosed Rattlesnakes, and three Gila Monsters from the wild have a measurable impact at the population level? Almost certainly not." Dave Primal
And that's the game in a nutshell. Mix a little fact (for credibility) with a ton of speculation made to sound factual. Use this deception to push naive and gullible people with no practical experience into believing the chosen narrative. In this case the narrative being duplicitous declines and dubious depletions.
On popular internet reptile-trading sites such as "not allowed", a prime twin-spot can easily fetch $1,500.
The only Twin spots I saw for sale this yr were a perfect 1.1 proven adult pr. $1,800.00 for the pair with complete legal documentation. And the guy couldn't get it. Ridgenose are an even tougher sell.
For all the alleged poaching. There certainly aren't many Twin spots or Ridgenose rattlers to be found for sale. The high asking price for these snakes is proof that these animals are few and far in-between. You can rarely get them and it has always been that way. If they were being poached as regularly as some claim, they would be a dime a dozen by now. Instead they have always held their market value this is because there are very few available and a very limited number of people interested.
Internationally, the black market in wildlife is a multibillion-dollar industry
For what kind of wildlife ? Certainly not Arizona rattlesnakes. Just like Brown with his BS about his beloved timber's, Prival will be shut down in hurry if he try's to blame any sort of Arizona rattlesnake decline on the international trade. Every reptile exported from the US is completely documented. The record will show that no Twin spots or Ridgenose are being exported.
collecting twin-spotted rattlesnakes is illegal in Arizona — and a federal law called the Lacey Act prohibits buying and selling protected wildlife
Prival believes that only tougher federal laws, such as one prohibiting the sale of any live wildlife
Here Prival tips his hand. Just like Timber Billy Brown , Twin Spot Dave possesses a pathological desperation to believe anything that serves his cause and he will distort what doesn't until it meets his own agenda. Clowns like Brown and Prival refuse to look past than their own prejudices. They know if they do they will only disappoint themselves with the truth.
Brown's New York horridus populations are at the northern extent of the species range. Those populations seem to be secure due largely to intact habitat, secrecy of dens sites, public education, and avoidance of the past persecution (including both legal and illegal take) that horridus has suffered throughout its range. This seemingly secure status could easily change with loss of only a few reproductive females from the population.
The NY "dens" Brown studies are on Tongue Mountain where over twenty thousand Timber rattlesnakes were taken. To take a shot at Brown (a little payback) Rudy published a topographical map showing the exact location of all Browns den sites and challenged one and all to go and see for themselves. After all the years of heavy and legal collection and the Dens exact locations being publically disclosed. There are still a lot of Timber rattlesnakes found in these places. The proof is Brown has been collecting paycheck's for the past 35 yrs guessing about how many snakes he's counting.
Its insane but expected that a scientist would say something as crazy as this when talking about Timber rattlesnakes , "This seemingly secure status could easily change with loss of only a few reproductive females from the population".