Science education in the news (in a bad way)

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gbin
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Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by gbin » August 9th, 2012, 8:43 am

I'm all for tadpole-rearing programs and such to get kids interested in the natural world and the issues confronting it, but we need to make darn sure that the teachers employing such programs in their classrooms aren't adding to those issues:

Study finds a new pathway for invasive species – science teachers

Gerry

P.S. (added by edit) Right after I posted this I realized it should probably have been posted instead to the News message board. :oops:

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chrish
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by chrish » August 9th, 2012, 9:55 am

Wow. That's sad. They need to have teachers sign "non-release" forms before ordering any animals.

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Gluesenkamp
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by Gluesenkamp » August 9th, 2012, 11:47 am

I get calls from teachers with tadpoles/frogs all the time. I think the companies selling these animals should do a better job of informing their customers about the issue. One instruction sheet I read simply suggested taking unwanted frogs to a petstore or turning them loose. Bullfrogs, seriously? I wind up being the bad guy when I tell them that they shouldn't turn them loose, that no petstore wants them, and that the best place for them is in the freezer.

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gbin
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by gbin » August 9th, 2012, 1:04 pm

Gluesenkamp wrote:... I think the companies selling these animals should do a better job of informing their customers about the issue...
Bingo!

I suppose it wouldn't go over any better with those teachers to suggest that they fry those bullfrogs' legs (which are good eating, anyway) up for a class picnic... :P

Seriously, though, seeing as there are doubtless a number of teachers out there who simply couldn't bring themselves to dispatch a bunch of frogs, you and Chris are absolutely right, the teachers need to be made fully aware of the situation before ever ordering, so they can opt to have their classes do some other kind of project that doesn't involve this issue.

And maybe companies putting out instruction sheets with their tadpoles that say to turn the animals loose when they're no longer wanted should get a call from their friendly, neighborhood wildlife officer? ;)

Gerry

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Gluesenkamp
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by Gluesenkamp » August 10th, 2012, 8:04 am

In Texas, it isn't illegal to turn them loose. I can tell you that we DEFINITELY frown upon such activities and I always make an effort to inform people about why it is a BAD idea.

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Daryl Eby
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by Daryl Eby » August 10th, 2012, 11:03 am

Gluesenkamp wrote:In Texas, it isn't illegal to turn them loose.
Any chance that we could make it illegal? Surely TPWD could lobby for a basic against the wild release of any captive animal. Maybe include a few exceptions (24 hour hold?) and expand the scientific permit program to allow researchers and game agencies to obtain release permits for reintroduction and restocking programs.

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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by Gluesenkamp » August 10th, 2012, 12:33 pm

Uhm, TPWD is a state agency. We do not lobby.

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gbin
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by gbin » August 10th, 2012, 12:46 pm

Gluesenkamp wrote:... I always make an effort to inform people about why it is a BAD idea.
I figured that was the case, Andy. :thumb: I didn't know that it wasn't flat-out illegal here in TX, though. Interesting...

Gerry

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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by VICtort » August 10th, 2012, 1:39 pm

This is a true dilemma (similar to round-ups?) in that a culture has developed over decades, and people think it is OK, and then when someone says differently and shatters their expectations, someone is now a bad guy curmudgeon...

Lot's of precendent for this, and although I see a difference between native wildlife and nonnative invasive species (such as bull frogs in the western states), I don't think a lot of k-6 school teachers do. In California, I know of salmon being reared in school classes and released in streams adjacent the school property, and here in Imperial County, school kids are raising and releasing mallard ducklings. With the best of intentions, to foster a sense of stewardship of the environment. If you have never been to a public meeting regarding a wildlife issue, do go, you will be amazed how differently people think about issues, and it becomes very unclear what is right, wrong, relevant to the masses. Also, I still see bull frog tadpoles being sold in pet stores etc., so this is a widespread issue (and some would say the horse is already out of the barn) but I agree educators should be responsible and not add to the problem. I have asked some of my non-biology/natural history friends about "Chytrid" fungus and the world wide decline of amphibians, and many otherwise well educated/sophisticated people are unaware... Vic

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Chris Smith
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by Chris Smith » August 10th, 2012, 2:24 pm

Anyone want to take a stab at creating a 1-2 page info. sheet advocating against the release of captive animals? I would stress that it is not only is this an issue of invasive species but it is also a disease issue! The risk to populations far out-weighs the benefit of releasing an individual or two back into the wild.

-Chris

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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by FunkyRes » August 10th, 2012, 2:44 pm

Chris Smith wrote:Anyone want to take a stab at creating a 1-2 page info. sheet advocating against the release of captive animals? I would stress that it is not only is this an issue of invasive species but it is also a disease issue! The risk to populations far out-weighs the benefit of releasing an individual or two back into the wild.

-Chris
I was thinking of doing so just to have something to mail to local schools.

I think free educational materials on the impact of invasive species that teachers could then optionally use to teach the concept to their kids would be great too.

Unless someone with letters behind their name posts something, I'll try to have something by end of the month.

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gbin
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by gbin » August 10th, 2012, 4:26 pm

VICtort wrote:... In California, I know of salmon being reared in school classes and released in streams adjacent the school property, and here in Imperial County, school kids are raising and releasing mallard ducklings. With the best of intentions, to foster a sense of stewardship of the environment...
Yeah, I've real mixed feelings about all of this. But from a conservation standpoint, as in medicine, it seems to me that one should start with "First, do no harm." Or at least no avoidable harm; sometimes one simply has to choose between the lesser of evils, but I don't see that as the case when one is just considering projects to have done by a school class.
Chris Smith wrote:Anyone want to take a stab at creating a 1-2 page info. sheet advocating against the release of captive animals?...
I would think that someone must have already invented that wheel?... I'd suggest instead starting by looking for something that's already out there that could be put to greater use. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with coming up with your own version if that's what you prefer to do, mind you...

Gerry

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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by FunkyRes » August 11th, 2012, 6:16 am

gbin wrote: I would think that someone must have already invented that wheel?... I'd suggest instead starting by looking for something that's already out there that could be put to greater use. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with coming up with your own version if that's what you prefer to do, mind you...

Gerry
Probably. In fact I suspect the DF&G here in CA probably has something.

But what I might do is add some local examples that teachers could use in the classroom, such as the Shasta Crayfish (Pacifastacus fortis) which is critically endangered in IUCN Red List and endangered on federal list - partially due to invasive Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus).

If wikipedia is correct, the Shasta Crayfish is the only native California crayfish left.

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Chris Smith
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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by Chris Smith » August 12th, 2012, 10:54 am

If anyone puts together a version post it for all to review.

-Chris

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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by VICtort » August 12th, 2012, 12:04 pm

This will be a contentious issue due to the amazing inconsistencies in agency policy/philosphy. I see California has another school group project with releases of white sea bass in Mission Bay. It is a curious thing that various Departments of Fish & Game may take a strict stance on folks not releasing herps into the wild, yet they have historically been cavalier, naiive and down right wreckless in "genetic polluting" of fish poplulations, speading of disease tran-continentally, nation wide, and tolerant or even encouraging on amateurs/school/civic groups releasing various wildlife into the remaining habitat. It would seem to me the policy on herp releases is a good one, and I support it, given the sad history of Gopherus tortoises, Chytrid fungus, etc., but it seems so selective to herps, and seemingly ignored or not addressed with other forms of wildlife. Many Alaskans have been adamantly against aqua-culture of salmon, to protect the wild stocks, given the many debacles seen in Norway, Eastern USA, B.C. elsewhere...one can make a compelling argument that humans often mess up wildlife with the best of intentions.

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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by FunkyRes » August 12th, 2012, 1:00 pm

VICtort wrote:This will be a contentious issue due to the amazing inconsistencies in agency policy/philosphy. I see California has another school group project with releases of white sea bass in Mission Bay. It is a curious thing that various Departments of Fish & Game may take a strict stance on folks not releasing herps into the wild, yet they have historically been cavalier, naiive and down right wreckless in "genetic polluting" of fish poplulations
Not releasing herps into the wild has never applied to educational facilities.
Classrooms have always been allowed to raise tadpoles and release them.

There may be restrictions on non native species, I don't know, but they don't care if the Pacific Treefrogs came from Eureka or San Diego or Truckee or Red Bluff, the classroom has an exception that says the teacher can release them into the wild.

I'll try to find the specific regulation.

This may not be the result of DF&G biologists, like any government agency, the DF&G is not suppose to lobby itself, it may be law that was passed by people outside the department who had no clue about things like cross locale pollination and spread of diseases. I don't know.

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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by Joseph S. » August 12th, 2012, 7:37 pm

People may find it difficult to justify the use of animals in educational settings if they are all euthanized afterwards. Also, the kids would not be particularly pleased that the animals they've grown attached to are being killed in that manner.

I think that if science teachers etc. collect wild tadpoles, rear and release to the same locale, then the chances for disease transmission are low...but it does make a bad example for the kids.

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Re: Science education in the news (in a bad way)

Post by Paul White » August 13th, 2012, 5:22 am

wow. I'd always jut assumed Texas had laws against that :shock:

I'd actually like a pet bullfrog some day, but I can't do amphibians--my room gets too hot.

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