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Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 25th, 2016, 5:35 pm
by Kelly Mc
I'm making this thread to give people the opportunity to share why they choose not to collect herps in the wild.

I dont think the only reason why people have a Leave As You Find It mode of herping is only because of an ignorance about sustainable population ecology, or because they are over emotional activists, any more than those who do (responsibly) are in an immature phase in the hobby, or selfish.

I think that being involved with nature and animals is a dimensional experience and that the preference to leave as you find is a legitimate behavior that is not at odds with being a science minded person. That one can be aware of the sustainability of species and the null impact of personal collecting, yet still choose to leave animals in the wild.

I wonder what others think.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 25th, 2016, 6:47 pm
by Kelly Mc
I realized sitting here, that it would be interesting also to hear about why you do collect, if you do, and what animals you re interested in.

So this isnt a political debate thread at all, but a share of pursuits, and mutual respect.

I dont have the time or space to enlarge my personal assortment of animals but If I did I know I would prefer to go on quest for it, as the animals I would be interested in arent really in the trade. And I would prefer to get them myself. I like Thamnophis for instance. Good for the type of vivaria I like to make and watch.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 25th, 2016, 8:06 pm
by Jeremy Wright
Awesome idea for a thread. I'm curious to hear and learn from others about their evidence and opinions.

I don't collect for a few reasons, mainly that first off, I don't think that a collecting mindset is a really good one, and second of all, I don't have the desire to collect or keep herps now. It often seems (at least the people I know) that people will treat themselves like they are the exception in terms of collecting, and will take stuff (legally) that might be rare in a given area. I don't think this sets the best examples to other enthusiasts or herpers. Even if you only take maybe 1 or 2 adults from one locale a year, if dozens or more herpers or enthusiasts do the same, it can't be good for that population, especially with environmental strains such as the drought here in southern California. I have seen this locally to me where collectors will have bags and buckets in horned lizard and zonata habitat, and as I see more and more of those people I see less and less of those herps. I think it can also be hard to limit collecting, especially if you are younger. People always seem to want more and more of something and I can see this being a problem if people aren't happy with what they have. I am not saying that I dislike collectors or people who collect occasionally, I am just implying that I know it can be a problem.
Although I have only ever caught and kept 2 herps a few years ago when I was 11 or 12, I didn't find that as exciting to be honest as doing a lot of research and hard searching to be rewarded with photos. At that age my herp collection grew and grew, and my dad (who is a biologist) convinced me to only look at cb herps, and I'm glad he did. Now I take much pleasure in photography and I enjoy herping more then I ever have. That change in my attitude and enjoyment was also largely to do with a few photographers here, especially Devin B, Jack G, Scott T and Rob S. Their photos inspired me to start my passion for herp photography and enjoy herping more!

In my opinion, I think a select few, knowledgeable and responsible people should be allowed to do captive propagation and small amounts of collecting in order to establish large captive breeding availability for both science, zoos, and commercial herp keeping. Many snakes and lizards that aren't readily or legally available to purchase cb (stuff like Thamnophis, Trimorphodon, Senticolis, Masticophis) I think would be desired by many, and those seem to be hard to find. This would not only lesson the desire for herpers and enthusiasts to collect and potentially deplete populations but would also more importantly help to eliminate mass collectors who collect everything they see for a profit, and often end up killing herps due to lack of care while they drive through. (I have heard about things like this happening from a few people in the Sky Islands of Arizona). Online stores like backwater reptiles etc. seem to offer wild caught native snakes with regularity at very cheap prices, and I'm sure no one really knows how many they are collecting and what impact that has on local populations.

Just my two cents ;)
-Jeremy

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 25th, 2016, 9:27 pm
by stlouisdude
I very, very rarely collect herps because most of the time I could either get them as CB anyway or they just don't have any interest to me. Given the vast network of international laws and that most of the species I would want are outside of the country and worst of all located in countries with no export networks in place and/or closed in any event, it's just not practical for me to collect and bring back anything I would want. I am pretty much at capacity with exotic species, so anything I could realistically collect (native) I wouldn't have space or time to care for, pictures on the other hand do not require much maintenance and still provide the thrill of the hunt.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 5:58 am
by brennan
The reason I don't collect is simple. I'm in it for the "pop" not the "pet". I get my rush and excitement from the initial find. this quickly subsides and having an animal to feed and care for is not consistent with my interest in wild herps. Years ago, as a kid, I would occasionally take a snake home from the wild only to return it after a week or two.

Brennan

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 8:49 am
by bgorum
I don't collect because that's not the aspect of herps I enjoy. I like herps in the field. I find their behaviors and ecology to be fascinated. If I collected, my captives would not interact with the environment in interesting ways. (Moving to and from a hot spot in the cage or eating domestic mice is a long cry from the sorts of interactions a wild animal would have). Also if I collected herps I would have to keep them. That would require dedicating time, energy, and money that I would rather dedicate to getting out into the field. I have nothing against anyone that likes to collect as long as they do it responsibly. Whatever floats your boat, but its not for me.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 9:52 am
by Tamara D. McConnell
I don't collect because I am trying to get less responsibility, not more.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 10:08 am
by Muchobirdnerd
I don't collect for many reasons but I also don't want my house smelling like a rats a$$h0le.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 1:14 pm
by ThomWild
Kelly Mc wrote:... If I did I know I would prefer to go on quest for it, as the animals I would be interested in arent really in the trade. And I would prefer to get them myself. I like Thamnophis for instance. Good for the type of vivaria I like to make and watch.
When I choose to collect individuals from the wild this sums up why I do it. I haven't seen a whole lot of CBB D. p. regalis out there. I also love to teach and I like to use my animals while doing so. This is my opinion but I think students look at native animals differently than they do an exotic from the pet trade. I think certain concepts click better when the student knows there is a chance they will see a particular species on their next trip outdoors.

If a particular native species (e.g. Getula is available in the pet then I will seek it out that way but some species just don't offer that.

Kelly Mc wrote: I think that being involved with nature and animals is a dimensional experience and that the preference to leave as you find is a legitimate behavior that is not at odds with being a science minded person. That one can be aware of the sustainability of species and the null impact of personal collecting, yet still choose to leave animals in the wild.

Hear! Hear! I would add other "traditions" of herping to this as well. One does not need to meticulously photograph every herp encounter or have some system of checking off a "lifer" list to find great personal fulfillment, or be of great benefit to science.

bgorum wrote:I don't collect because that's not the aspect of herps I enjoy. I like herps in the field. I find their behaviors and ecology to be fascinated. If I collected, my captives would not interact with the environment in interesting ways. (Moving to and from a hot spot in the cage or eating domestic mice is a long cry from the sorts of interactions a wild animal would have).
I can certainly understand and completely respect this thought, but likewise there are behaviors that have been observed in captivity that are difficult if not impossible to observe in the wild. Field study does not have a complete monopoly on worthwhile observation and discovery. That said it certainly takes a level of commitment to produce a captive setting to facilitate such activities which is along the lines of the last half of your post that I did not quote.

-Thomas

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 4:18 pm
by Jimi
Kelly Mc wrote:
... If I did I know I would prefer to go on quest for it, as the animals I would be interested in arent really in the trade. And I would prefer to get them myself. I like Thamnophis for instance. Good for the type of vivaria I like to make and watch.

When I choose to collect individuals from the wild this sums up why I do it.
Exactly what I thought when I first read Kelly's post. I enjoy the hunt, I enjoy knowing exactly where my animal came from, that it was taken humanely, and I can keep it with perfect knowledge of where it came from thus what will serve its needs best.
This is my opinion but I think students look at native animals differently than they do an exotic from the pet trade. I think certain concepts click better when the student knows there is a chance they will see a particular species on their next trip outdoors.
This is an interesting observation or perspective that isn't explored enough here. I'm uncomfortable with the notion of "the general public" thinking of herps as only existing in zoos or pet shops. That seems to me both a symptom and a driver of "nature deficit disorder". Which I hold to be a problem.
If a particular native species (e.g. Getula is available in the pet then I will seek it out that way but some species just don't offer that.
Right - nearly all species (native or otherwise) do not offer that. And it seems the species diversity of CBB availability is decreasing, not increasing. Everything seems to be leopard geckos and ball pythons, in domesticated morphs. No thanks.
I don't collect for many reasons but I also don't want my house smelling like a rats a$$h0le.
I think this assumes "live-rodent feeders". Or perhaps you meant, a snake's cloaca? Generally, not a problem if your husbandry is even "just adequate", let alone superlative.
I don't collect because I am trying to get less responsibility, not more.
For the most part, this is where I'm at. Time, not money, is the key currency of life. How is one to spend it?
In my opinion, I think a select few, knowledgeable and responsible people should be allowed to do captive propagation and small amounts of collecting in order to establish large captive breeding availability for both science, zoos, and commercial herp keeping. Many snakes and lizards that aren't readily or legally available to purchase cb (stuff like Thamnophis, Trimorphodon, Senticolis, Masticophis) I think would be desired by many, and those seem to be hard to find.
The first part of this kind of freaks me out, and what follows seems - to me - hopelessly naive and uninformed. I'm not hating, let me explain what I mean:

1) First, as it stands right now, in all but the most unreasonable states anybody who has the drive and the interest to try their hand at herpetoculture of nearly any of their native herp species can go for it.

Can you give reasonable answers to these simple questions?

- why would restricting the privilege to just a "select few, knowledgeable and responsible people" be preferable to the status quo of "anybody can, who wants to"?

- who would make the determination of who fits that description, and - perhaps more importantly - who does not?

- besides "who" there is "how". Can you imagine a procedure for making such determinations? Can you imagine a procedure for challenging such determinations? There would have to be one - I really, really hope you can see that.

- why should someone who has the potential, but as yet lacks the experience (and thus cannot prove they possess the knowledge and responsibility), be barred from entry? Where is the fairness in that?

2) Do you have any idea how much trial and effort went into "decoding" how to breed anything? How many people it took to try, and fail (everyone, at some time or other), and either quit or keep trying (the extreme minority, the "heroes"). And besides individual human variation, which is extreme, do you have any idea how many wild-caught animals had to be "evaluated for domestication" (a euphemism...) before the ones that would actually breed did so? I mean, where do you think the "knowledge" in "knowledgeable" came from? The internet? Books? Magazines? No. Those are places know-how (and BS...) is shared. But that is not where know-how is created. Creation happens in the snake room, and in whatever space you look at your notes and try to figure out what happened, and why.

3) Do you understand how few people would be willing to establish and maintain "large availability" of any taxon without any foreknowledge of demand, price, etc.? What funding mechanism do you invoke, to "bridge the time gap" between establishing such availability, and (hopefully...) demand catching up with supply so as to perpetuate the reason for providing the supply in perpetuity? Private investment? Public grants? Angel donors?

4) Can't you see that Thamnophis, Trimorphodon, Senticolis, Masticophis etc are not currently desired by many? If they were, those animals would exist more widely in culture. However, those animals are not hard to find - you can simply go out and catch them, and keep them if you so wish, in all but the most unreasonable states. And if you want to try your hand at being "the guy who cracked the code" of breeding e.g. lyre snakes, you are - right now - free to do so. And you can see what the demand, and thus the price, is. And you can see what kind of cost in time and money is involved in setting up a little breeding program. And you can do the math, and answer the question to your own liking - "So...is this worth it to me?"

Like I said, I'm not hating. And, I think it's important to do a few things at the same time - to maintain a hopeful vision of the world as you think it should be, and to also see clearly the world as it is. And to reconcile yourself to the differences, and to what is actually possible and good, versus a dystopian pipe dream, a bad trip.

cheers

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 5:06 pm
by Jeremy Wright
My point was not to ban or restrict herpers or enthusiasts from collecting in small amounts and breeding. I think private breeding should be encouraged and made easier in terms of laws / permits. (I'm in California, and captive propagation and selling of those individuals seems to be legally hard.) My earlier statements were more as an idea for commercial suppliers of herps. There seem to be many species common both in the wild and in the pet trade that as far as I know don't have commercial or large scale breeding focuses. Large herp stores, especially those like backwater reptiles, underground reptiles, etc. seem to offer a great deal of wild caught native snakes, and as I said I doubt that they are cared for well or taken with any confirmed limit.

I think scientists, herpetologists, or experienced keepers / breeders who understand species' care, diets, breeding, etc would also have a much greater understanding on when, where, and how many specimens to take from the wild. If they could work with a larger herp supplier or breeder, this could produce a large amount of species captive bred that previously would only be available if one were to go out and find a snake. However, as you say, anyone with native species breeding experience should be incorporated into this.
if you want to try your hand at being "the guy who cracked the code" of breeding e.g. lyre snakes, you are - right now - free to do so. And you can see what the demand, and thus the price, is. And you can see what kind of cost in time and money is involved in setting up a little breeding program.
-This statement is true, and I have no problem with that. But for me, I would rather buy a captive bred animal that would probably have a larger probability of surviving and breeding then a wild caught individual(s) that would take as you said probably a lot of deaths and trials to work. I bet I'm not the only one that wanted to collect a few species when I was younger. This was not because I like collecting, but because I want a particular species commercially unavailable. I wouldn't have anywhere near enough knowledge of how to keep or breed a species compared to an experienced breeder or herpetologist who studies that species. There is no reason for me to unnecessarily deplete a population if people possess the knowledge or resources to create large scale breeding of a species a possibility. I think there needs to be some changes in native propagation laws and in the general mindset and operation of large scale herp importers or collectors.

I agree with most of your points Jimi, thanks for the response.
-Jeremy

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 5:59 pm
by mtratcliffe
I don't collect because, frankly, I find it very selfish if it is conducted for the purposes of one's long-term collection. I can sympathize with collection for educational purposes, but snatching up an uncommon snake because it's an awesome find comes across as juvenile. My mantra is that if my self-interst in herping conflicts with the well-being of my subjects, then I need to re-evaluate my priorities.

Plus, as others mentioned, the is an inimitable thrill comes from observing herps in their natural environment. It's exciting to set out in search of new species in new spots in order to learn about just how diverse our own backyards can be. Collecting herps doesn't invoke the same sense of adventure, and in the case of some species, it removes the chance of that thrill for someone else. Never mind that you are effectively killing (from a population standpoint) the specimen that is collected.

That said, I do believe some herps are more acceptable for collection than others. Frogs can be quite abundant in the right habitat, and given the high natural mortality rate for frogs between larval and adult stages, I don't have any qualms with someone collecting tadpoles to raise them. Lizards can also be locally abundant, though I realize they aren't popular targets for collectors.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 6:19 pm
by stlouisdude
The biggest target right now is probably turtles, but I don't know the actual numbers exported and how many were wild caught, I'm also curious how the turtle farming industry works, as in do they mass collect wild turtles for the farming operation? If anyone knows actual facts, it would be interesting to hear though a bit off topic.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 9:36 pm
by nightdriver
I have been around herps for as long as I remember. When I was younger, I wanted one (or more) of almost every type of herp I could find. Of course I discovered this was logistically difficult and also very expensive. For a teenager with access to wild herps and little funds, collecting was easy and fun. Growing up in a mostly pre home computer world, I dabbled in breeding experiments gleaning what I could from books. When I discovered "Reptile shows", I found exotic new things to buy I had only seen in books before. Luckily I had enough common sense (usually) not to buy things I had no idea how to care for. At some point over 20 years ago, after not being able to get rid of the baby snakes I'd produced, getting tired of cleaning the cages, spending hard earned money on too many rats and mice...... I discovered keeping herps was no longer as "fun" as it was when I was younger. Over time, I got rid of everything I had and re-introduced myself to herping for fun.....and science. Of course the fact my wife isn't crazy about snakes helped me along. Though I still have dreams of someday having huge rhino iguanas roaming in my yard, and get tempted by really nice looking gopher snakes, the only thing I collect now are pictures, memories, and DOR's for the natural history museum(under permit of course :) ) I would imagine that my "evolution" is not too different from some others on the forum.

-nightdriver

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 26th, 2016, 10:24 pm
by mwentz
I mostly don't collect. I do keep various mountain kingsnakes (CB), and attempt to breed them. For scenting purposes, I collect a few (3-4) fence lizards every year.

For keeping purposes, I imagine, in the exact right circumstances, I might collect an animal, but it is not too likely. I currently have no desire to collect anything. I do imagine if I came across an injured snake, that clearly wouldn't survive in the wild, but might survive with some attention, I think I would collect it. It would have to be just the right situation though, I have no problem dispatching an animal in pain. I do have my 1 wc zonata that was given to me by a friend who's cat got a hold of it.

To add a weird dimension, I do collect road killed snakes, if they are not totally pancaked. I like to use them to try my probing technique on, and do scale counts etc... I also think I would like to try my hand at making a snake skin belt or something else, from one of my roadkilled finds. But I have not done that yet.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 4:54 am
by stlouisdude
Roadkill huh? I can just imagine when the cop got back to the station after seeing you, "so there was this guy anally probing a dead snake on the side of the road on hwy 8"

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 10:04 am
by Bryan Hamilton
I collect occasionally for science and museums, very rarely for myself. I collect a lot of data which to me is critical to effectively manage and protect reptile and amphibian populations. I also do more and more observing. I enjoy just standing back and watching and taking in the situation.

Science has taken a hit on this forum which is unfortunate. Mostly I collect data and specimens because I believe that reptiles and amphibians are worth protecting and conserving. Those populations are worth my time money blood and sweat.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 10:18 am
by stlouisdude
I certainly hope no one would poopoo on you for collecting for scientific purposes but I have heard of a number of cases where common frogs and domestic animals are no longer allowed to be used for educational purposes, I think more so because people want their kids to think meat grows on trees than a worry that the world will run out of bullfrogs, though. If you mean the USGS, I don't think they will ever restore trust with reptile keepers, it would take decades.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 11:28 am
by RenoBart
For me personally, it comes down to a few things, and I am going to expand beyond just collecting, but into keeping in general, as that is the outcome of collecting for most herpers.

1) Collecting, unless for actual scientific research that is being carried out to protect and conserve the species and habitat, or some other legitimate beneficial reason, is solely based on our selfish human desire to take and keep for ourselves what we find. And trust me, I am NOT devoid of this human desire. I have found untold herps in the wild that I badly wanted to take home and keep for my own observational entertainment. And 30 years ago, I probably would have. But now, I think about the stress these animals are under to begin with, coupled with the fact that I personally would hate to have the roof of my own house ripped open, only to be plucked out and then deposited into a large box that sort of resembles my house, but falls short in many ways, and does not allow me to leave for an unknown period of time while being fed only chicken and mashed potatoes for as long as I can survive. When you apply it to yourself, it hardly seems ethical.

2) The exotic pet trade is a dark, nasty, awful place. Anyone who disagrees is blind to what is actually going on. (And try to think beyond the United States.) Furthermore, exotic pets are directly related to invasive species spreading around the world and causing all sorts of ecological damage, not to mention the spread of horrible diseases like the Chytrid fungus. And collecting is part of this problem, one way or another.

3) Many herps will outlive or outgrow their owners. When you commit to a dog for example, that dog might live for 8-15 years or so on average. Many humans have trouble with even that length of dedication to another creature, let alone each other. How many herp keepers do you know that ACTUALLY have the capacity to take care of an animal that will likely outlive the owner and or vastly outgrow their enclosure?

4) Unless you are dedicated enough, well off enough, and educated enough, I think it is virtually impossible for most humans to adequately care for herps, or any exotic, non-domesticated animal for that matter, in captivity, aside from maybe some fish or inverts. Sure, you can keep the animal alive, but is the animal truly "happy" and thriving? It is impossible to know for sure, but given the way that most herps are kept captive, I hardly think so. So, based on the majority of keepers and keeping methods, I think the confinement of these creatures is nothing short of utter cruelty. Most of the time, when you watch captive snakes, turtles or lizards, you will observe them actively trying to escape their enclosure. If they were "happy" in their tank, cage or box, why would they so vigorously be trying to escape? Now, understand that I know there are a small percentage of keepers who are doing very well with their animals and really know what they are doing. But the percentage here is incredibly small.

And before you all jump down my throat, know that I have collected and kept before, sometimes successfully, sometimes sadly not. I have just made the choice to let these creatures live out their days the way they were meant to, with as little human interference as possible. And before you ask, yes, I even have reservations about field herping, even though the only thing I collect now are photos...

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 11:35 am
by Jeremy Wright
Little bit off topic here but still relevant to the discussion and some information for you all. Out of curiosity I called a big online reptile store (not naming it) yesterday inquiring on how many field collected Arizona elegans and Rhinocheilus were available. I had seen their ads saying that they have almost all sizes available and discounts can be made for large or bulk orders. The man I spoke to on the phone didn't know the species I was talking about, and handed the phone to another man. I could just hear him say to the other employee "This dude on the phone is asking about some glossy or some snakes I don't we have" The other man responds "Oh yea, snakes from our last west trip?" And the guy responds, "I think so, he said glossy and long nosed or something." "Oh, yea okay. Let me talk to him."
After a chat with the new man he told me that he could arrange for a bulk order of over 100 Arizona and according to him, Rhinocheilus in the dozens. If this is true, I wonder at what rate / number collecting occurs. I asked him also if he could give me any local info on these snakes and where they came from. Sadly the most specific he could get was that they are collected from western states, including Utah, Texas, New Mexico, etc. This online store is based in Florida, so it seems that they send out people to go on trips for long periods of time collecting everything they can including the man I spoke to on the phone, who seemed to understand the snakes and habitat well. Bummer.
Obviously Arizona and Rhinocheilus are common, but this practice of commercial mass collecting seems to take place in regularly, and I wouldn't be surprised if populations in some areas decline. I'm almost positive their primary method of collection was road cruising, but populations near roadways are definitely affected by traffic and dors. Collecting on this level especially of adults, (the man told me if I was interested they had gravid individuals) I can't imagine as being trivial.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 11:43 am
by stlouisdude
"1) ith the fact that I personally would hate to have the roof of my own house ripped open, only to be plucked out and then deposited into a large box that sort of resembles my house, but falls short in many ways, and does not allow me to leave for an unknown period of time while being fed only chicken and mashed potatoes for as long as I can survive. When you apply it to yourself, it hardly seems ethical."

I generally try to refrain from comparing human emotions and reptiles.

"spread of horrible diseases like the Chytrid fungus. And collecting is part of this problem, one way or another."

I'm not big into landscaping, but the commercial sale of plants requires a health stamp of some kind I think(?), but not the personal trade (as far as I can tell) between individuals.. or at least the many cuttings and seeds I've received lead me to hope so! I have seen a few states begin requiring health certs with animals. I don't know what this actually involves though nor am I sure if the landscape industry is really checking anything or if it's just to make us feel better? Hard to protect against unknown disease, but perhaps a good idea to screen for known ones?

"3) Many herps will outlive or outgrow their owners. When you commit to a dog for example, that dog might live for 8-15 years or so on average."

This really depends on the species, some animals live a long time, others not so much. When it becomes a problem, and I would argue dogs and cats are much more of one, is when something is so common that it has no value and is therefore hard to place... pretty much all your run of the mill dogs and cats fall into this category as does bearded dragons, leopard geckos, etc. If I wanted to get rid of my rare reptiles, I'd have a line of people wanting to take them, in fact I don't have any trouble selling the offspring at all and have waiting lists.


"4) Unless you are dedicated enough, well off enough, and educated enough, I think it is virtually impossible for most humans to adequately care for herps,"

Most of my snakes can live in enclosures (150$) or plastic boxes (10$) need a piece of heat tape (10$) and a rheostat (10%) or tstat (less than 100$)., t
The it costs about 2 mice a week (hard to say as I breed some/buy some) and two deli cups a week (8cents each), plus a piece of newspaper or some aspen or cypress (free to 2$ depending on cage size and material), getting sick is extremely rare so most years zero vet bills. Compare that to my dog who requires a dog sitter when I am at work (10$ day 5x week, to walk and let him out), 20$ a day when I am on vacation or gone for a long weekend, and probably a couple hundred dollars a year in medicine and vet bills even without getting sick, and I would venture to say dogs are a much more involved and expensive affair. Then there was the time he had a kidney stone (several hundred), an eye infection that wouldn't go away (several more hundred), and a couple of times just follow ups for concerns that ended up being no big deal, but it's definitely not cheap. Having said that, I wouldn't trade my dog to have the $ back. Reptiles are something I enjoy taking care of and mostly just watching them, but the dog is more interactive so I would encourage people to have the best of both worlds.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 12:02 pm
by RenoBart
stlouisdude wrote:I generally try to refrain from comparing human emotions and reptiles.
I won't get into a big ethical discussion about this with you, but in a nut shell, this is the reason we disagree. I understand herps might not feel the same emotions as we humans, but they do feel something, and it is easy to detect when they are under distress. As I said, sure, you can keep these animals alive in captivity, but are they "happy"? I personally do not know, but I take the side that most likely, for whatever emotions they can feel, they are not happy in captivity.

And just to add a bit to some of your other replies, I agree that stray dogs, feral cats, and exotic plants are also an issue. But if you want to start talking about all that, then I will have no choice but to bring up the elephant in the room that NO ONE EVER wants to discuss with any seriousness, and that is the simple fact that there are too many human beings currently in existence on this planet and that this is the root cause of ALL of our problems today. We as a species operate in direct contrast to how nature operates, and as such, everything is doomed, including us.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 1:11 pm
by mwentz
stlouisdude wrote:Roadkill huh? I can just imagine when the cop got back to the station after seeing you, "so there was this guy anally probing a dead snake on the side of the road on hwy 8"

Haha! I generally save the scale counts and probing for after I get home.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 2:33 pm
by chris_mcmartin
RenoBart wrote:Collecting, unless for actual scientific research that is being carried out to protect and conserve the species and habitat, or some other legitimate beneficial reason, is solely based on our selfish human desire to take and keep for ourselves what we find.
I offer the following items for thought:

1. Even collecting for "actual" scientific research is selfish at our species' level, in the sense it's restricted to the human race's perceived betterment of our world.

2. Let's say we agree that collecting is selfish. So what? Is selfishness always a bad thing, or is some selfishness just "existent" with no inherent value judgment? Almost every activity one can imagine is selfish; but individually we tend to imbue various activities with different degrees of selfishness, often such that our own selfishness isn't as bad as that other guy's selfishness. The fact we're all typing on devices which have stripped the planet of various elements in their construction, not to mention require continued pollution to sustain their operation, supports this concept.


For the record, I occasionally collect. I've probably collected less than 100 live herp specimens in my life, and that's counting a few dozen Woodhouse's toadlets one summer evening as a child. On the other hand, I've donated nearly that number of specimens, living and dead, to academic and educational institutions (arguably leading to a "greater good" of better knowledge and management of various species). Additionally, I document my finds, both collected and observed-only, in NAHERP and other databases--close to 1400 records so far, and will be even more once I finally get caught up.

Do these actions warrant considering me "ethically superior" to someone who picks up every animal they find for personal use, or someone who commercially collects everything they find? What if they document each find along with habitat and weather information? Some here would say yes. Am I "ethically inferior" to someone who never collects, and takes photos only? Again, some here would say yes. What if the "photos-only" people never share their observations? What if they don't replace cover items?

For me, it's not terribly useful (for lack of a better term) to try to impart a relative value judgment on whether someone collects or not, or to claim the natural progression of a herper is to reduce or eliminate individual collecting activities--especially if that natural progression is said to be based on ethical considerations. Note: I actually support that idea, to an extent. But the herping community is sufficiently diverse to make such generalizations impractical and in some cases downright incorrect.


EDIT: I think the last Reptile & Amphibian Public Opinion Survey addresses this topic to some degree. Analysis of the results is on my to-do list, but I have been overwhelmed with other, higher-priority projects lately. Of course I will post when I've compiled the analysis.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 2:37 pm
by stlouisdude
" to bring up the elephant in the room that NO ONE EVER wants to discuss with any seriousness, and that is the simple fact that there are too many human beings currently in existence on this planet and that this is the root cause of ALL of our problems today. We as a species operate in direct contrast to how nature operates, and as such, everything is doomed, including us."

Reno, I agree 100%. It should be a terribly easy problem to solve, each couple has 2 or less kids. Even at 2 kids per couple, the population decreases because some will die before breeding age or will be infertile. Quantity of life (with humans) at some point comes at expense of quality of life. I personally believe we crossed that threshold and should gradually decrease the population over time by way of population control laws or tax incentives to couples who are childless, right now we do the opposite!

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 2:50 pm
by RenoBart
stlouisdude wrote:" to bring up the elephant in the room that NO ONE EVER wants to discuss with any seriousness, and that is the simple fact that there are too many human beings currently in existence on this planet and that this is the root cause of ALL of our problems today. We as a species operate in direct contrast to how nature operates, and as such, everything is doomed, including us."

Reno, I agree 100%. It should be a terribly easy problem to solve, each couple has 2 or less kids. Even at 2 kids per couple, the population decreases because some will die before breeding age or will be infertile. Quantity of life (with humans) at some point comes at expense of quality of life. I personally believe we crossed that threshold and should gradually decrease the population over time by way of population control laws or tax incentives to couples who are childless, right now we do the opposite!
I completely agree. But this topic is just so taboo, even today with everything that is going on. I always use my aquarium analogy. Take a 20 gallon tank, put in 3 or 4 different fish, all is well. Dump in 50 more different fish, things are going to go south. Add another 100 different fish and all havoc will break loose. This is what essentially will happen to us on this planet. It's just simple math. We absolutely CANNOT continue to grow exponentially as a species without a serious, direct, and negative impact on all other life on this planet, and ultimately our own species as well.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 7:10 pm
by Scott Waters
If you choose to collect something, I suggest you tell no one other than your close friends. If you're an avid herper, you know what responsible means when it comes to collecting, so act accordingly and use good judgement when making that decision. Its not complicated, don't be an idiot.

I think it is impossible to discuss this topic with those who are against personal collection, no matter what. You'll notice words like "selfish" are used, thus making a reasonable conversation impossible because it is based on emotional judgement. If you want to discuss collection in a reasonable and constructive manner, leave emotion out of it or you're going down a pointless road.

Good luck.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 7:13 pm
by Scott Waters
You all might find this show interesting.....

http://www.herpnation.com/2016/07/22/ceh11-072116/

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 7:51 pm
by Lloyd Heilbrunn
RenoBart wrote:For me personally, it comes down to a few things, and I am going to expand beyond just collecting, but into keeping in general, as that is the outcome of collecting for most herpers.

1) Collecting, unless for actual scientific research that is being carried out to protect and conserve the species and habitat, or some other legitimate beneficial reason, is solely based on our selfish human desire to take and keep for ourselves what we find. And trust me, I am NOT devoid of this human desire. I have found untold herps in the wild that I badly wanted to take home and keep for my own observational entertainment. And 30 years ago, I probably would have. But now, I think about the stress these animals are under to begin with, coupled with the fact that I personally would hate to have the roof of my own house ripped open, only to be plucked out and then deposited into a large box that sort of resembles my house, but falls short in many ways, and does not allow me to leave for an unknown period of time while being fed only chicken and mashed potatoes for as long as I can survive. When you apply it to yourself, it hardly seems ethical.

2) The exotic pet trade is a dark, nasty, awful place. Anyone who disagrees is blind to what is actually going on. (And try to think beyond the United States.) Furthermore, exotic pets are directly related to invasive species spreading around the world and causing all sorts of ecological damage, not to mention the spread of horrible diseases like the Chytrid fungus. And collecting is part of this problem, one way or another.

3) Many herps will outlive or outgrow their owners. When you commit to a dog for example, that dog might live for 8-15 years or so on average. Many humans have trouble with even that length of dedication to another creature, let alone each other. How many herp keepers do you know that ACTUALLY have the capacity to take care of an animal that will likely outlive the owner and or vastly outgrow their enclosure?

4) Unless you are dedicated enough, well off enough, and educated enough, I think it is virtually impossible for most humans to adequately care for herps, or any exotic, non-domesticated animal for that matter, in captivity, aside from maybe some fish or inverts. Sure, you can keep the animal alive, but is the animal truly "happy" and thriving? It is impossible to know for sure, but given the way that most herps are kept captive, I hardly think so. So, based on the majority of keepers and keeping methods, I think the confinement of these creatures is nothing short of utter cruelty. Most of the time, when you watch captive snakes, turtles or lizards, you will observe them actively trying to escape their enclosure. If they were "happy" in their tank, cage or box, why would they so vigorously be trying to escape? Now, understand that I know there are a small percentage of keepers who are doing very well with their animals and really know what they are doing. But the percentage here is incredibly small.

And before you all jump down my throat, know that I have collected and kept before, sometimes successfully, sometimes sadly not. I have just made the choice to let these creatures live out their days the way they were meant to, with as little human interference as possible. And before you ask, yes, I even have reservations about field herping, even though the only thing I collect now are photos...

Anthropomorphize much???

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 8:38 pm
by Kelly Mc
Your one-liner doesnt find a good seat in reference to RenoBarts post, please explain?

Does having healthy empathic pathways and the ability to detect nuances and make analogous connections equate anthropomorphism? Perhaps in the 70s, or if under some dour affect of keeping up appearances.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 9:06 pm
by Kelly Mc
Its been my experience that many people are not able to recognize suppressed behavior and dysphoric repetitive actions in captive reptiles.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 9:55 pm
by ThomWild
Kelly Mc wrote:Your one-liner doesnt find a good seat in reference to RenoBarts post, please explain?

Does having healthy empathic pathways and the ability to detect nuances and make analogous connections equate anthropomorphism? Perhaps in the 70s, or if under some dour affect of keeping up appearances.
RenoBart wrote:I understand herps might not feel the same emotions as we humans, but they do feel something, and it is easy to detect when they are under distress.
If we are so adept at detecting the nuances of a distressed animal, why would it be any different in detecting when one is not distressed, or detecting when one is "happy" as RenoBart put it? Why does it seem that when the topic of possible "emotions" or "feelings" comes up it is only in a negative light?

I will use the example RenoBart brought up of being ripped from your home and only having chicken and mashed potatoes as a comparison to collecting and keeping, simply because it is one that is not infrequently used. Why does it always have to be a negative parallel. What if being in captivity is just like living in the civilization we live in now as humans? We live in little boxes, we eat prepackaged meals and we have pretty much the same routine everyday. Maybe that is ideal for some individual animals just as it is for many humans. The saying "red in tooth and claw" does not paint a very pleasant picture of nature after all.

If we are talking about "feelings" and "emotions" then we must admit that they all can't be the same between species or individuals just as they are not the same with every human. This would essentially nullify any generalized scenarios or absolute statements used to describe those feelings or emotions and whether they are good or bad (as they pertain to this current topic).

Don't get me wrong I am not trying to argue that if I go out and collect an animal tomorrow that I am doing it as a selfless act for the betterment of the animal. I herp (whether it involves collecting or not) because I enjoy it - because it benefits me personally; everything I do in my life is for my benefit. Even when I am "serving" others (be they human or otherwise) or making a "sacrifice" for the environment I do so in part because I get something out of it, because I benefit in some way. I deeply care about the feelings and emotions (real or perceived) of all life, but I would be a complete liar if I claimed the motivation behind such depth was completely an altruistic one. I think the same reasoning can be applied to why people choose not to collect... We have some pretty good examples of that in this thread I think.

-Thomas

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 10:09 pm
by ThomWild
Kelly Mc wrote:Its been my experience that many people are not able to recognize suppressed behavior and dysphoric repetitive actions in captive reptiles.
It is my experience that many people are not able to recognize those things period. I don't think it is unique to animal husbandry. One only has to briefly look into our current and historical treatment of mental illness to affirm that.

-Thomas

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 27th, 2016, 10:52 pm
by Kelly Mc
When it comes to the word "Happy" people really tend to lose their skittles when its used - but human language was made for use in human contexts, so a succinct equivalent for use in discussions like this isnt readily available. Its tiresome to always need to compose an acceptable sentence for states of pleasure, or relaxed composure.

Pleasure and distress are basal states, accompanied by neurons and hormones and survival rewards.

To confuse these with human abstract thinking and more familiar human or even generalized mammalian cues reveals a much more anthropomorphic perspective than aknowledging their versions in other species.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 12:15 am
by Bryan Hamilton
The more I learn about snakes, their social lives and natural histories, the less likely I am to put one in a box for the rest of its life. They are far more complex than we give them credit for.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 6:45 am
by WSTREPS
Why I collect or don't . Different reasons for different situations. I really don't do it anymore with few exceptions . In the past, in the very beginning, when I was small. It was to study the animals, and it still is. Every once in while I'll get a native specimen, something I normally don't work with to keep in my office and watch for a while. Animals like Amphiumas, swamp snakes fascinate me as much today as when I was ten. There are not many things in life I can say that about. Its amazing how quickly if treated right a wild animal will stop seeing you as a threat and start seeing you as helpful. They are not scared, they look forward to seeing you. Dinner bowl love? Probably, but still they reach a comfort level that gives them the confidence not to be afraid. The only way to assess the quality of life a captive reptile has is the evaluate how the animal fulfills its life goals. Along with understanding its body language. Animals tell you things by body language. But that a different topic.

Wild caught animals have always played a part in my life. By the time I was 12. I was working hands on with animals that were never seen alive in the states before and learning the facts about commercial harvest, impacts , etc. It amazing how many institution's, biologist , researcher's would come around wanting first dibs. And then these same people would go around and trash the very people who helped them get what they wanted. There certainly was many life lessons learned. The idea that its somehow acceptable for animals to be collected for science as opposed for pets is fraudulent in its concept. Scientific collection is commercial collection. People make money off of it. Very few reptile related research project's have any actual purpose that's useful beyond helping the people who are involved the study.

I never personally got into commercial collection in the states. But I did go out and see it first hand and learn. I wanted to know everything. I did the same in many other places, Ghana , Mali, South and central America, different islands. I wanted to know the truth not what some glossy colored magazine said or some scientific paper written by a guy who didn't know his backside from a hole in the ground, and wouldn't be truthful if he did. But the real truth. How and where. How many

On some of these trips I did some collection for commercial use. On others what some say was mass collection but mostly I observed, discussed what the locals saw in the populations, what they thought about long term sustainability and the prospects of large scale captive breeding. The changes in the environment and attitudes.

I find that the anti collectors are usually the ones with the least knowledge and that goes hand in hand with the least dedication but the biggest mouths. Millions of deer are killed every year by hunters over a million more are killed by cars, then there's natural death. I don't hear anyone saying OMG deer are going to become endangered. But people will go on about how common, secretive, wide ranging and adaptable snakes will be hunted out by a couple of guys catching a few hundred (at most) specimens. Mostly picked up off of roads. Extend this logic to invasives. The same people that say you are damaging a population of secretive, wide ranging snake species by the collection of a few hundred specimen's, will tell you that collecting thousand's of snakes from an introduced population in a limited area , that has only been in existence for a short time is negligible , nothing can be done to eradicate the species. The mindset is F`n goofy.

A bit about collection from a couple of pros, Rudy Komarek ( I met Rudy when I was 12 or 13 and stayed in touch with him for almost 40 years) and Art Moore, forty years after mass collecting by Moore and Komarek, have rattlesnakes been exterminated in New York State? Might as well let Moore tell us himself.

During the 1940s through 1970 I caught rattlesnakes for the three county governments of Essex, Warren, and Washington. According to the Wall Street Journal (taken from the records on file with State of New York), I took over 18,000 timber rattlesnakes during a 30 year period. The counties paid me a bounty of 5 dollars per snake. Today, I still work for these county governments, however in a different capacity. I am the Wild Animal Control Officer for the town of Dresden, and the town of Whitehall.

When a rattler or other dangerous animal turns up in somebody's yard, I answer the call and remove the animal. I go on about 2 rattlesnake calls each week. You would think all the masses of snakes that I, Wilburt, Komarek, and others removed from these three counties over the years, would have destroyed, or at least drastically reduced the populations of timber rattlers in these areas. Far from it. I could, if I wanted to, go out hunting them again and collect numbers comparable to those I took in the 1960s. The stories of the timber rattlesnake's decline, at least in this area of New York, are absolutely ridiculous. And the Adirondacks State Park is simply full of them.


Bill Brown (biologist) , when he was writing his book, could scarcely have found a rattlesnake den without me. To learn about their habits, he spent hours with me, tape recording what I told him. Whenever he lost a snake during his radiotracking, which was damn near every time he set one free, it was me he came to, to help him find it. And more times than not I led him straight to it. He was always amazed. There was no trick to it. After doing something every day for half a lifetime, you get good at it.

Brown visited a few dens. But there is not a single den in these counties that I didn't find for him. Komarek showed Stechert others in the rest of the state. Brown and Stechert have written a lot of crazy things about timber rattlers—how they are in decline, how they have gotten rare . . . What's amazing to me is how many people in the government believe them. People find rattlesnakes everyday in this area—and they don't even have to go into the woods to see them. They find them in their own backyards.

What do I think about protection of rattlesnakes? I think it is a scheme of conservationists to make money for themselves. Do I think it helps rattlesnakes? Emphatically not. People still kill every one they see, and even the wildlife officers do it, or turn their heads and let residents do it. It is absolutely insane to leave a live rattlesnake in your yard where it can bite you, or a family member, or friends coming over visiting, or your dogs or other pets. I do not believe in the wanton destruction of rattlesnakes, or any wild creature. But I have been around long enough, and have done this work long enough, to know what I am talking about.
And who could doubt it. Art Moore has seen more rattlesnakes in the field than anybody living.

Ernie Eison

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 7:35 am
by RenoBart
Scott Waters wrote: leave emotion out of it or you're going down a pointless road.
So having an emotional opinion about something is pointless? It's easy to dismiss emotion to pave the way to doing whatever you want. So personally, I think it is a very relevant aspect of this discussion. If we dismiss emotion, we can easily justify free reign to do whatever we want.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 8:04 am
by RenoBart
ThomWild wrote:If we are so adept at detecting the nuances of a distressed animal, why would it be any different in detecting when one is not distressed, or detecting when one is "happy" as RenoBart put it? Why does it seem that when the topic of possible "emotions" or "feelings" comes up it is only in a negative light?
First off, you clearly didn't read my whole post effectively. I didn't say that ALL herps in captivity are miserable. However, I do believe that the vast majority of keepers cannot provide adequate husbandry. And I am talking about everyone from the 10 year old kid with a RES in a fish tank, to older folks keeping all sorts of herps.
ThomWild wrote:I will use the example RenoBart brought up of being ripped from your home and only having chicken and mashed potatoes as a comparison to collecting and keeping, simply because it is one that is not infrequently used. Why does it always have to be a negative parallel. What if being in captivity is just like living in the civilization we live in now as humans? We live in little boxes, we eat prepackaged meals and we have pretty much the same routine everyday. Maybe that is ideal for some individual animals just as it is for many humans. The saying "red in tooth and claw" does not paint a very pleasant picture of nature after all.
To me, this is just justification. A closer and simpler analogy would would be prison. For some humans, prison works out just fine. But for the vast majority, I am pretty sure prison amounts to a miserable existence. You can justify capturing and containing a creature however you see fit. But for the life of me I cannot fathom how anyone who claims to "love" or "care" about these creatures can say that keeping is completely harmless to said animal.
ThomWild wrote:If we are talking about "feelings" and "emotions" then we must admit that they all can't be the same between species or individuals just as they are not the same with every human. This would essentially nullify any generalized scenarios or absolute statements used to describe those feelings or emotions and whether they are good or bad (as they pertain to this current topic).
I had a friend once who told me that he thinks lower animals don't feel pain. Somehow we got into this discussion when we were out fishing. He said the worm doesn't feel pain when you load it onto your hook. But then I told him, why does the worm squirm when you pierce it with your hook? He did not have an answer. That reaction, whether or not it is biologically and physiologically the same as a person smashing their finger with a hammer on accident, is pain one way or another. I agree that all forms of life feel and perceive things differently. But I do believe there are a basic set of emotions and feelings almost all vertebrates can sense. They go up in complexity as you get closer to mammals. And as I said before, to deny this is just a convenient way we humans justify the horrible things we do to other creatures we share the planet with.
ThomWild wrote:Don't get me wrong I am not trying to argue that if I go out and collect an animal tomorrow that I am doing it as a selfless act for the betterment of the animal. I herp (whether it involves collecting or not) because I enjoy it - because it benefits me personally; everything I do in my life is for my benefit. Even when I am "serving" others (be they human or otherwise) or making a "sacrifice" for the environment I do so in part because I get something out of it, because I benefit in some way. I deeply care about the feelings and emotions (real or perceived) of all life, but I would be a complete liar if I claimed the motivation behind such depth was completely an altruistic one. I think the same reasoning can be applied to why people choose not to collect... We have some pretty good examples of that in this thread I think.
I agree with your final insight. I still herp as well, and I do know and have negative feelings about this also. No matter how you look at it, herping, whether we collect or not, is ultimately disturbing the animal in some way or another. I personally just draw the line there.

And guys, again, I am not trying to start an argument with some hippy, PETA agenda in mind. It's not like that. All I am saying is, think about it. It took me many years of growing up and seeing the struggle all animals on this planet must endure in the wake of humankind to realize that any pressure we put on them is ultimately going to negatively impact them one way or another. Be it herping, collecting, keeping, hunting, fishing, etc. It is all part of the big picture.

As a human, I can only deny myself so much. The ultimate solution to what I see as a global problem, is to encourage zero population growth. However I know this is an idealistic way of thinking. Even though I have been happily married for going on 20 years, and I am STILL very happy about the fact that I chose (for both selfish and non-selfish reasons) not to reproduce, I know that my way of thinking is ultimately only going to benefit me. When I die, I can die at ease knowing that I personally did not contribute to the problem.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 8:13 am
by RenoBart
Bryan Hamilton wrote:The more I learn about snakes, their social lives and natural histories, the less likely I am to put one in a box for the rest of its life. They are far more complex than we give them credit for.
EXACTLY. And I believe this goes for all of the creatures on this planet. To assume we know what is best for them, to assume we know if they are happy or sad, to assume ANYTHING regarding how they sense or feel is fallacy. Science can only tell us so much. The only thing we can safely assume is that they are best left alone in their naturally occurring habitat.

But we are people, and we will do what we do.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 9:55 am
by Scott Waters
RenoBart wrote:
Scott Waters wrote: leave emotion out of it or you're going down a pointless road.
So having an emotional opinion about something is pointless? It's easy to dismiss emotion to pave the way to doing whatever you want. So personally, I think it is a very relevant aspect of this discussion. If we dismiss emotion, we can easily justify free reign to do whatever we want.
To clarify, my opinion of "collect or not to collect" is a very broad question. Entering emotion into it, in my opinion, is a pointless exercise unless the question is purely about how collecting "makes you feel". So I separate questions like this into two categories,the science of collecting and the emotion of collecting, and try not to blend. One is about whether or not harm, or positive, gain is supported by collection and the other is about emotional attachment. Sorry, I should have been more clear when lobbing out "pointless". You make a fair point. My opinion is that I'm not going down that road because emotion and wildlife management are two different conversations.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 10:11 am
by RenoBart
Scott Waters wrote:To clarify, my opinion of "collect or not to collect" is a very broad question. Entering emotion into it, in my opinion, is a pointless exercise unless the question is purely about how collecting "makes you feel". So I separate questions like this into two categories,the science of collecting and the emotion of collecting, and try not to blend. One is about whether or not harm, or positive, gain is supported by collection and the other is about emotional attachment. Sorry, I should have been more clear when lobbing out "pointless". You make a fair point. My opinion is that I'm not going down that road because emotion and wildlife management are two different conversations.
Yeah, I get what you are saying. You are talking about looking at the science behind an issue vs looking at the ethics behind an issue. In my opinion, they both warrant collective thought. To look at something purely from an emotional standpoint can be just as detrimental/unproductive as looking at an issue from a purely logical standpoint. In general, I believe every situation deserves it's own individual analysis. It is tough and almost impossible to lay a broad blanket over these issues without looking at each instance individually. Someone collecting for monetary gain for example, vs a field scientist collecting for his job, vs a herper collecting for his/her own enjoyment and future entertainment. There are dozens of factors, and they all deserve equal analysis.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 12:19 pm
by ThomWild
Bryan Hamilton wrote:The more I learn about snakes, their social lives and natural histories, the less likely I am to put one in a box for the rest of its life. They are far more complex than we give them credit for.
I hope to one day have the opportunity of getting to know a group of animals in the wild as intimately as you have. I know it has not come with little sacrifice on your part.

There is one aspect to this that I don't think has been mentioned and that is geography or ecological availability. Another example from my own experience, I noticed that when I lived in a more urban area with little herp diversity I had a much more difficult time fighting the impulse to collect when I went herping. Now that I live in a very rural, very ecologically rich area my initial impulse to collect is all but gone. Is it because of how long I have been doing this? Is it that I have matured that much in the process? Or is it because I now live in an are where I can find herps in my back yard or take a 10 minute bike ride or drive up the canyon and with some regularity see some of the most beautiful herps in the world?
RenoBart wrote:First off, you clearly didn't read my whole post effectively. I didn't say that ALL herps in captivity are miserable. However, I do believe that the vast majority of keepers cannot provide adequate husbandry. And I am talking about everyone from the 10 year old kid with a RES in a fish tank, to older folks keeping all sorts of herps.
Nor did I mean to insinuate you did, and I completely agree with you on the level of overall husbandry in the hobby. I get examples of this brought into me on a very regular basis.

In possibly a backwards sort of way I think this is one reason I do choose to collect on occasion. I think there is a level of investment of knowledge, of time, and of money/resources that comes with going out and collecting a targeted animal on a planned trip that is completely missing from the pet trade. I realize that is not the case with every person or every animal or in every geographic location, but I have found it to be the case in my personal sphere.

On a personal level I don't disagree with much of what has been stated here. My intent is not to argue, it is simply to bring up questions/scenarios I find myself working through.
RenoBart wrote:As a human, I can only deny myself so much. The ultimate solution to what I see as a global problem, is to encourage zero population growth. However I know this is an idealistic way of thinking. Even though I have been happily married for going on 20 years, and I am STILL very happy about the fact that I chose (for both selfish and non-selfish reasons) not to reproduce, I know that my way of thinking is ultimately only going to benefit me. When I die, I can die at ease knowing that I personally did not contribute to the problem.

I respect you for this. I am also married and have very consciously and deliberately made the choice with my wife to have children (for both selfish and non-selfish reasons). When I die, I can die at ease knowing that my wife and I did everything possible to teach our children and provide for them the tools they will need to play a part of the solution (or at least my version of an idealistic solution).

-Thomas

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 12:34 pm
by RenoBart
ThomWild wrote:I respect you for this. I am also married and have very consciously and deliberately made the choice with my wife to have children (for both selfish and non-selfish reasons). When I die, I can die at ease knowing that my wife and I did everything possible to teach our children and provide for them the tools they will need to play a part of the solution (or at least my version of an idealistic solution).
I think about this side of it a lot. Sometimes I think it is EXACTLY people like me and my wife who SHOULD be having children so we can do exactly as you are doing. However, I think when it all comes down to it, humanity, whether perceived as doing good for the world or doing bad are still mouths to feed. No matter who we are and how we live, we are still reproducing at an exponential and unsustainable rate. We are still a burden on this planet. And thus, my choice was made and my stance has never changed. At the same time, for people who are having kids and raising them to be good stewards to nature, it is all I can hope for...

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 12:59 pm
by Bryan Hamilton
Thanks for the kind words Thom. I happen to know that you know the snakes in your area better than anyone. I've seen the pictures! Really interesting perspective on availability and access. I notice the same thing. I used to be obsessed with western rattlesnake species. Now knowing I'm short drive from so many, I really feel less like collecting them. Cleaning cages is gross anyway.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 4:52 pm
by stlouisdude
Maybe a little off topic but one thing I would find very rude is collecting from a site where someone is trying to do mark/recapture, particularly without talking to that person first. Accidentally doing so is forgivable, but I think intentionally doing so, even if legal, is really poor taste.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 6:25 pm
by Bryan Hamilton
As someone doing mark recapture, I appreciate this perspective.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 11:05 pm
by jonathan
stlouisdude wrote:" to bring up the elephant in the room that NO ONE EVER wants to discuss with any seriousness, and that is the simple fact that there are too many human beings currently in existence on this planet and that this is the root cause of ALL of our problems today. We as a species operate in direct contrast to how nature operates, and as such, everything is doomed, including us."

Reno, I agree 100%. It should be a terribly easy problem to solve, each couple has 2 or less kids. Even at 2 kids per couple, the population decreases because some will die before breeding age or will be infertile. Quantity of life (with humans) at some point comes at expense of quality of life. I personally believe we crossed that threshold and should gradually decrease the population over time by way of population control laws or tax incentives to couples who are childless, right now we do the opposite!

Except that's not the problem, or the answer, at all.


Americans consume 20-40x as much as people in many other countries. And there's virtually no limit on how much habitat an individual human can choose to consume/destroy - the wealthier they are, the more they want to destroy, and wealth keeps going up and up and up. The differences in reproductive rates across humanity are dwarfed by the differences in consumption rates.


Even if we limited to 2 children/family and population stabilized (which is NOT an easy problem, but could only happen under ridiculous draconian measures and massive human rights violations), it wouldn't stabilize for 50 years due to population demographics, and we're already at a population level where American consumption rates would outstrip the entire globe 4x over. If you want to eventually get down to 1 billion people and make American consumption rates okay, do you realize the demographic, infrastructure, and political nightmare that will hit long before you get there? Not to mention the draconian methods you'll take.

And what do you say to the poor Indian couple who has 2 kids and they're both girls, so they have no one to care for them in their old age because sons stay with their own parents? Or the family that only has 1-2 kids but constantly worries that they'll die from malnutrition/tuberculosis and then they'll be left with no one? Or the farming families that would lose their property and lives if they didn't have multiple children to pass the farm onto?


Population control isn't a workable solution logistically, it isn't the right answer theoretically, and . It's almost always proposed by older elites in wealthy high-consumption lifestyles who have already spent their seed or decided that they didn't want to be bothered with raising children for other reasons (not saying this is you, but from having taken a good glance at who is on the boards of the kind of groups who propose this nonsense). They don't want to realize that THEY, and not someone else's kids, are the real problem.


We do need to help populations in poor and desperate places stabilize. And history has shown over and over that's done by bringing education (both academic/literate and practical), good health care, and some form of relative stability. When people are assured that their kids are going to grow up to adulthood, when they have access and knowledge to the options available ahead, when both girls and boys can get an education and make a living and making their own decision to support their own parents, and when families have the ability to pour a lot of resources into a few kids rather than having a lot and hoping to hit the jackpot...they tend to reduce family size on their own.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 28th, 2016, 11:08 pm
by jonathan
I don't collect because I'm away from home too much to have that responsibility, and legal issues where I live.

I also realized that the enjoyment I got over any one animal would wane over time, so it seemed pointless to have it just sitting in a cage in my place all the time - the best moment was the excitement of getting it, and then after a while it would mostly just be there. That's not 100% true, but in a general sense there was decreasing utility.


But if I still had a science classroom, I would definitely collect. Having a rocking collection in the room (separated into Mojave Desert, Southeast Forests, and Aquatic environs, with a bunch of extra inverts on my desk) was a really cool educational tool.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 29th, 2016, 2:59 am
by Jeroen Speybroeck
Taking a herp out of the field takes the 'field' out of fieldherping for me. But that's just personal.

Re: Why You Dont Collect

Posted: July 29th, 2016, 7:10 am
by Porter
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