Protection--a flawed policy

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azatrox
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by azatrox » October 23rd, 2013, 5:34 am

Now, that said, I think collection is unlikely to effect many of our native herp species. However, which is better: setting arbitrary collection limits, or going with the safe route of disallowing collection until more information is available for a given species? This is a philosophical debate.

Well, I think it depends on species (obviously)...The issue with going the "safe route" is that once agencies go down this path, they seldom steer away from it if scientific research done subsequently shows that a particular population can be sustainably harvested. Then, we get laws and governance based upon little more than the "precautionary principle" when in reality wildlife management laws should be based on science. If a newly discovered species were to be "closed season" until further data and research can be done/gathered, that's one thing...A good theoretical idea...but again, once agencies adpot the precautionary principle and ban basically all encounters with a given species (obstensibly while data is gathered), they soon find that this is the most convenient method for them to "manage"...No further action or decisions need be made on their end regarding that species....And because we all know the red tape and convoluted mess many government organizations are, I doubt these organizations have the willingness to reassess at a later point in time, even if citizen science suggests they should.

So, basically you have wildlife management organizations using the precautionary principle to make species hands off, and (the world being what it is), once that happens they stay completely hands off even if the science indicates that that species does not need complete protection. Why? Because government gets busy and has multiple responsibilities and the last thing they're concerned about is revising the status of a species that is already "protected" should subsequent data warrant it.

Of course, if there's money to be made then a species' status is always open to revision....Just look at any number of formerly protected species that are now no longer in need of said protection (according to the government)...because the government can now make a buck or three off of them.

But the vast majority of reptiles and amphibians? HA! Yeah....Third class animals as far as most wildlife management agencies are concerned.

-Kris

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by hellihooks » October 23rd, 2013, 7:11 am

Broad sweeping generalizations are never a good idea, and most conclusions can use a qualification, or two.
Collecting pressure should (at most) be considered an 'additive' factor, that for most species is negligible, but for a few species (say, Black Toad) may matter.
Relying upon Man's penchant to equate rarity to value, I'll bet that if you removed all protections from all herps, and allowed everything to be captive bred, before long even the rarest of the rare would be abundant. :roll: ;)
What gets me is the fact that now all Ringnecks are protected in San Bernardino Co, because Citizen Scientists reported finding a Regal Ringneck shed in the MNP. Now...technically, we're not even allowed to go look for a live one, and can't look for (pursue) SB Mt Ringnecks either... :roll: Same with Salvadora... because S.h. virgultea occurs in coastal Berdo... now all Salvadora(including Mojavensis) are protected in SB Co. IMO...it's cause it would cost too much to teach Wardens the difference tween the two, as with SB Mt and Regals. :roll: :x jim

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Sam Sweet
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Sam Sweet » October 23rd, 2013, 8:36 am

You picked another bad example, Jim. No one is disputing that black toads are vulnerable to overcollection. However, even in that extreme case of a single locality where the whole population sits out in the open all day, someone could collect hundreds of individuals a day with absolutely no effect on the population. Sounds crazy, read on.

In late spring it is often very hot in the valley. Overnight in cool conditions the spring flows extend well down toward the playa, and mature tadpoles follow in the thousands. By midday evaporation is taking a toll, and the standing water retreats as much as 75-100 m. Few if any tadpoles swim upstream as this happens, and each day thousands are stranded and die. The gray items on the bottom in the top photo are yesterday's dead tadpoles, and the lower photo shows part of the spring run that dries out each day.

Image

Image

If someone wanted black toads they could collect several thousand over a few days with no biological downside. As matters stand, you could be prosecuted for netting up the doomed tadpoles and transporting them back upstream, since B. exsul is listed as Threatened in California.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by azatrox » October 23rd, 2013, 10:52 am

Collecting pressure should (at most) be considered an 'additive' factor, that for most species is negligible, but for a few species (say, Black Toad) may matter.
Relying upon Man's penchant to equate rarity to value, I'll bet that if you removed all protections from all herps, and allowed everything to be captive bred, before long even the rarest of the rare would be abundant. What gets me is the fact that now all Ringnecks are protected in San Bernardino Co, because Citizen Scientists reported finding a Regal Ringneck shed in the MNP. Now...technically, we're not even allowed to go look for a live one, and can't look for (pursue) SB Mt Ringnecks either... Same with Salvadora... because S.h. virgultea occurs in coastal Berdo... now all Salvadora(including Mojavensis) are protected in SB Co. IMO...it's cause it would cost too much to teach Wardens the difference tween the two, as with SB Mt and Regals.


Is there some secret black market demand for black toads and ringnecks? Yes, I've known a few people that keep Diadophis, but really....protecting these species from collection does what exactly?

Another brain dead regulation brought about by brain dead politicians with brain dead thoughts....

While it may be true that humans often equate rarity and value, that isn't always the case...There are quite a few rare animals for which a viable commercial market simply does not exist. Also, just because something isn't seen often doesn't necessarily make it rare.

-Kris

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Kelly Mc » October 23rd, 2013, 11:51 am

I dont know if the sentiment that the General Public protects what it likes is actually any more than wishful thinking. I have no degree in population biology or statistics to share. I only have what i have seen and dealt with which has been grueling to witness. "Likes" has presented itself as exploits with Protection as an afterthought by people in more engaged formats than the GP.

How many Pacific Treefrogs - weak and spindly - overcrowded in fishbowls or plastic carrying cases that were collected often as tads are brought to me with the question "What do i do with them now? We had more but they died before they got their legs." Horrifically I know some were simply dumped in the local water features and lakes. I try to help with suggestions of proper care and containment. It is always a challenge but a few of them take responsibility. Most balk.

This is only one example where collection seems like an unnecessary waste.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Kelly Mc » October 23rd, 2013, 12:07 pm

The most jarring part is that many of the people involved in the abovementioned scenario and others like it, are elementary and secondary school teachers.

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WSTREPS
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by WSTREPS » October 23rd, 2013, 1:26 pm

Is this topic specific to the US as a whole or a particular state or is it Global Nature ?
From what I've seen many of the issues are universal in approach and thought but not situatinally cookie cutter. Its not uncommon for people to look at these things with a very narrow perspective. Often the people who are most vocal against collecting are those with the least experience and knowledge. Essentially because they don't like something no one should do it. Unknowly these people are exhibiting the very thought process that impedes tangible progress in effective wildlife management.

I absolutely agree that depending on the species and situation over collection can be extremely harmful. That being said from what I've seen of wildlife protection policies both in the US and abroad (naturally because the US financially forces everyone to do it their way) are both ineffective and misguided.

"The available technology for finding snakes in North Carolina is so extremely limited that it can't really be considered a valid "technology" at all. Accidental encounter is not "technology." And the rate of encounter of finding a snake the size of a pigmy rattlesnake among the dense wire grass, ferns and leaf litter of a large pine forest is practically zero. Only when populations of snakes become biologically abundant is it possible to find any snakes. Indeed, to this extent snake hunting is self-controlling. Once the snake population falls to a certain level, the rate of encounter falls with it, and it simply becomes impossible to find them, no matter what amount of time you are willing to devote. Short of destroying habitat, snakes simply cannot be eradicated in a piecemeal way.
A few hectares of woodlands may support 50 individual snakes of a dozen species, but the snake catcher, walking through all this wilderness of snakes, may search for days, or even weeks without seeing one. Raymond Ditmars recorded this phenomenon in his book Confessions of a Scientist (1937), as did Carl Kauffeld in Snakes and Snake Hunting (1957). In "Confessions of a Gaboon Viper Lover" (1992), I describe a snake hunt in Ghana, West Africa, where I was taken to within 10 feet of a large Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica), and even though the snake was pointed out to me by natives, it was not until I had advanced to within one meter of it that I was able to discern its cryptic outlines from among the matching colors of the forest floor. Like Ditmars, I have walked sometimes for many days and even weeks in the primary forests of South and Central America without seeing a common Bothrops species. Was I to conclude from this that these animals had been exterminated by man, or were in decline" Dean Rippa

Due to the factors mentioned above combined with the possibility of personal bias and other bias. It's easy to see how the findings of a given population study can be very misleading as to the actual number of animals present. Depending on if we need more or less the numbers can be made to fit.
Snakes simply cannot be eradicated in a piecemeal way. There is a good deal of truth in that. We have seen scientific proof and admittance of this. Billions of dollars in funding and decades of ......... hum..... Effort and the brown tree snake is still partying hard on Guam. You would think after the immense hunting pressure this species has been under it would be on Guams endangered species list by now. (sarcasm ).

Over a thousand hunters and months of searching yielded about 60 Burmese pythons (at least 9 of those were captured before the official hunt began and submitted on opening day). Burmese pythons being a species that we are all being told has a large and rapidly expanding population.This notion is being pushed harder than ever even after the poor results of the big hunt. Had this been a species that they were looking to "protect", the same people would be saying that the results of this hunt are proof posititve that these animals are in desperate need of immediate protection !

The state of New York placed a bounty on timber rattlesnakes in the hopes of erdicating them. This went on for decades.What would seem to be enormouse numbers of timbers were destroyed yet these snakes are still a common species. Oddly enough now that interest in the collection of timber rattlesnakes is at an all time low collecting rattlers from the wild in NY is prohibited.If there has been a decline in NY's timber population it has certainly not been the result of collecting. Another example of a new state protection policy that has and will do nothing to protect.

Click on any post from Thailand and there is always a Krait or a cobra, rat snake in it. These snakes have been MASS ( mass even being capitalized is an understatement) collected since the beginning of time. This in a country that on paper has some of the strictest protection policies in the world. Yet their native snakes are some of the most heavily exploited reptiles on the planet and most still remain abundant. If Thailand were to abolish the wildlife policies the fate of their native reptiles would not change in any way. On one hand in that country the blanket protection policies have failed miserably. On the other hand the failure of these policies has had a negligible effect on the most heavily exploited reptile species. Begging the question what is the point of these policies ? Its all for show.

In the US Is anyone having trouble finding western diamondbacks or Easterns for that matter ? How about Softshell turtles? In recent memory has any reptile been hunted in the US to the extreme that these turtles have? How about water snakes , corns etc.

You can go to the same places (the ones that still exist) that in years gone by Ross Allen collected 10's of thousands of eastern diamondbacks and still find them. In the places the habitat still exists so do the snakes. This holds true for many species. Many species thrive even after the "native" habitat has been destroyed. In the US and else where the species that have been the most collected and most persecuted go completely ignored while species that have little or no interest from a collection stand point are given all sorts of "protection". Most of these protection acts are centered more on politics and agenda than actual science. And that is wildlife management in a nutshell.

Ernie Eison

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 23rd, 2013, 1:41 pm

WSTREPS wrote: If Thailand were to abolish the wildlife policies the fate of their native reptiles would not change in any way. On one hand in that country the blanket protection policies have failed miserably. On the other hand the failure of these policies has had a negligible
An intriguing thought...

BECAUSE many countries have such tight controls on collection and export of many/most/all herp species, it forces the determined individuals who just have to have them to go to great lengths to smuggle them, and then we hear about people with tortoises taped to their legs or crates of rare species buried underneath "legitimate" species...with dozens (hundreds, and even thousands in some cases) dying in transit.

Think about that, then realize that's only the shipments that are successfully interdicted. How many more escape notice, but were still packed and shipped the same way, with the same mortality rate?

If Country X were to allow managed export of those 'desireable' species, I'd imagine the overall mortality rate would go down, because the legal barriers necessitating all the 'sneaking around' would be removed, and the animals could receive better care in transit.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Kelly Mc » October 23rd, 2013, 2:15 pm

Again - that is wishful thinking.

The object of transport is to transport them. They are already paid for.

I have opened the boxes.

I wish I could remember details of the fax I recieved in the early 2000s of news that a company had purchased a small island as its very own. It was billed as excitingly obscure and that specimens collected from the island will be available soon, in what was implied as great numbers and diversity.

And no - I did not want any. It was a choice i made. Easily.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by hellihooks » October 23rd, 2013, 3:32 pm

Sam...I picked Black Toads off the top of my head, as a herp that only occurs in one place... think Zonata or Charina (the OP's 'bone to pick')... neither are rare nor endangered and if they were commercially available, collection pressure would drop to practically zero, and hopefully so would the habitat destruction that goes with it.
One day I hope to go see a Black Toad myself.
Kris... my point was that data collection seems to be somewhat of a two-edged sword... if you find something noteworthy...you better find a whole bunch... lest the 'powers that be' take the data you provided and prohibit you from adding to that data set... :roll: I'm generally a fan of 'irony'...this time... not so much. :roll:
Kinda reminds me of 'Young Frankenstein'... if it wasn't so idiotic...it would be scary. :roll: :lol: :lol: jim

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by klawnskale » October 23rd, 2013, 6:22 pm

This dead horse has been flogged so many times ad nauseum on the internet's field collecting forums that it is an unrecognizable putrifying mass of subatomic particles. Let's send it to the Hadron Collider and perhaps it might produce an actual image capture of a Higgs-Boson.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by cbernz » October 23rd, 2013, 6:37 pm

klawnskale wrote:This dead horse has been flogged so many times ad nauseum on the internet's field collecting forums that it is an unrecognizable putrifying mass of subatomic particles. Let's send it to the Hadron Collider and perhaps it might produce an actual image capture of a Higgs-Boson.
The flogging didn't cause the horse to distintegrate into its component particles, it was habitat loss. Flogging has no effect on the nuclear attractive force of horse flesh atoms.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Kelly Mc » October 23rd, 2013, 6:49 pm

I understand that i seem to be missing the point as the thread emphasis is population effect and consequence. But it seems a large act of ommission to delete the motivation from the consequence of any action.

If the motivation of GP collection and captivity is to have a relationship with the living world, and learn about the animals in it, that does not happen in the vast majority of these experiences, as there is not currently enough support to make the endeavor successful. Despite what looks like an opulence of it, at a fingertips access. Morality of removing wild animals from nature aside here - note i am not touching that aspect.

As stated before, no other vertebrates are so easily captured and contained. If badgers and whitetailed deer were pocket sized and could be kept in aquariums and storage bins i surmise they would encounter a similiar human dynamic.

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klawnskale
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by klawnskale » October 23rd, 2013, 7:00 pm

The flogging didn't cause the horse to distintegrate into its component particles, it was habitat loss. Flogging has no effect on the nuclear attractive force of horse flesh atoms.[/quote]

Nonsense! Haven't you ever made a magnet out of a piece of steal or iron by continuously rubbing it with another piece of steal or iron in the same direction to create polarity? Haven't you ever repeatedly struck a magnet with a hammer so it eventually loses its magnetism?

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Sam Sweet
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Sam Sweet » October 23rd, 2013, 7:51 pm

Since you have nothing to contribute but an annoying avatar klawnscale, maybe you should go troll for catfish.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by klawnskale » October 23rd, 2013, 8:28 pm

Sam Sweet wrote:Since you have nothing to contribute but an annoying avatar klawnscale, maybe you should go troll for catfish.
After you, Sam since you took the bait, hook,line and sinker...

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Verhoodled » October 23rd, 2013, 10:46 pm

dthor68 wrote:Verhoodled wrote:
I'll take "Cute, but Clueless" for $400, Alex.

Richard is not a pro collector, dthor69, by any stretch of any hallucination. As anybody vaguely aware of his work knows.

Kindly leave the table so the rest of us can engage in valuable discussion in our BigBoy and BigGirl voices, if labelling and Strawmanning is all you contribute. Reason is never benefitted by either.
Clueless is not knowing what "PRO" means. Also, I am not at the table, never was. The discussion is meaningless and you yourself have yet to contribute to it at all, other than labeling me. And, a "BigBoy"/"BigGirl" is one who will leave it where he/she finds it. A child wants to keep it captive. I would guess that you have a lot of growing up to do.

Personally, I could care less if one wants to collect, it is not my business. But to think that collecting does not hurt wild populations is laughable. Sure, if one person collected one animal it would not hurt. However, it is not one person, it is many. Of coarse a collector does not want to think he/she is part of the problem, so here we are, again!
Hey sorry you took exception for me taking a shot at you for taking a shot at Richard. I see BS, I call it out. I see you do the same. Kindred spirits!

Pro means professional. Pro-(noun) means one is pro-something. Pro-hunting. Pro-taxes. Pro-Redskins. Pro-Cowboys. (Either way the refs suck!)

Ah, so you meant pro-collecting (as in "for collecting"), not pro collecting (as in professional collecting).

You maligned a very respected herper and noteworthy herping contributor whose works I (and many) quite respect, with your crass penmanship and lack thereof, whatever the hell you think you meant. I'll call that BS out every time. That itself is a contribution.

I apologize for misreading what you meant, and being a mule's posterior in my response. But I implore you to look into Richard's contributions. He hasn't even collected in ages. He's a very open herper, and has been exceptionally open with amateur herpers with his experiences. A helluva lot of us owe a ton to his generosity. He's humored a ton of us in spite of ourselves.

<<<The discussion is meaningless >>>

I disagree. The discussion is quite valuable. Most discussion usually is. The spirit of Enlightenment and science should encourage discussion not censor it. No? The better brews in homebrewing have the longest boiling times, to iron out the water's irregularities, work in the malts, the hops, the grains, to summon the magic. Discussion is the same way. Time is a friend to homebrewing. It's a friend to discussion on the pursuits of Enlightenment. It's a friend to the pursuit of truth.

Don't like the discussion matter? Click on another thread and move on, if you've nothing to add. You're not at the table, as you admit, yet you still baptize yourself authority enough to label a thread meaningless? That's mighty crass. Mighty flamewars occur on these forums, but there are some pretty brilliant folks offering some pretty cool data on the matter. Whatever comes of it, the greater hope is that they are able to strike sparks with anybody to take the ball and run with it.

<<<collecting does not hurt wild populations is laughable>>>

An acceptable premise at face value, but please refute with data: what populations and what species. That's what this discussion begs for, and is getting from various sources chiming in.

If the NAFHA forums teach us anything, it's that we can put a kingsnake on the ground in front of 20 herpers, and from that action, at least 12 of us will disagree on the first word said about it, 6 of us will come to blows, and 5 of us will buy Hubbs' latest book.

Collecting can certainly hurt certain wild populations of certain species indeed. But not all species. Discussion carving away generalized and/or blanket legislation based on such is always warranted, whatever the outcome. The revisiting of ideas, the resifting of data for new pearls of insight, the revisiting of pickled specimens, and collecting of wild ones for observation is a valuable exercise in any branch of science. So if not all species, then how many? Most? Some? Few? Valid points of discussion, I'm very inclined to agree, is worth exploring.

Want contribution? I'd rather leave it to folks better suited for the subject, armed with superior data. But my minimal 2 cents, call it a penny, I'll owe the other cent:

Some of the most sensitive species in AZ (AZ leps) are almost absurdly (in fact laughably) abundant in (several) specific spots. Even these populations could certainly withstand collection (and do, for highly regulated government, state, and educational collections do take a few each year), but could never survive the ever-encroaching bulldozer. Gilas are protected on the basis of 1950s laws that thought them rare, oblivious that they spend 98% of their lives underground. I record numerous heartbreaking DORs from folks who legally flatten them on roadways. They could withstand take. They aren't even endangered. I risk myself a half dozen times a year or more, stopping traffic to let these wonderful lumbering brutes cross the road. But I can't touch them. The law is the law. And if some idiot decides to speed through me waving them to stop, God help me. Cars ever frighten me more than any crote. I'm half-convinced I'll be a DOR some day. (Good news for you, eh? =) ).

<<<a "BigBoy"/"BigGirl" is one who will leave it where he/she finds it.>>>

This is news to a lot of scientists who rely on and submit speciments for tissue samples. I'm thankful for, and in fact, indebted to, all those little boys and girls, then, who stuffed specimen jars for tissue samples upon which a ton of current studies are based. Including those by Richard F. Hoyer. Who spearheaded some pretty fascinating research with sharp-tailed snakes. Only resulting in a new species. Maybe two (I've not read the latest, if that's been confirmed yet). One doesn't reach the destinations he's reached and contributions he's made by ceasing questioning at the first message board slap on the wrist.

And still again further thanks to those who house them for educational purposes. And to museum and zoo curators and university collection overseers. And to breeders public and private. And even yet again for those who exercise in legal take for their own pursuits of happiness. Where do you think DNA studies come from?

Illegal collecting is of course, poaching. I've nothing but venom and bile for those who engage in such. But never confuse legally licensed collectors, who buy their licenses, funding and supporting game & wildlife efforts, with poachers. This is a critical distinction. Poachers are an entirely different entity than collectors, by definition.

Senticolis and Oxybelis keep coming up for protection consideration in AZ, but even in their limited range, they are quite abundant in their specific range. To tie it all back to a common theme, this is an important contribution the NAHerp DB can make, to collect the data and vouchers to help make the case for species that we and our fellow herpers are seeing. The long-reputed "hottest spots" for those species still produce those animals routinely for herpers even after decades of heavy cruising. Funnier still, those aren't even their hottest spots. =)

Roadcruising collectors making the gruelling trek thru the few thin strips of unpaved ribbon cutting thru their ranges could never touch their numbers to begin with. And they're quite welcome to take what they find. God knows they earned it.

<<<Of coarse a collector...>>>

C'mon man... spell check, aisle 3. At least try to try.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=define%3A+coarse

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Ribbit » October 24th, 2013, 4:47 am

Verhoodled wrote:If the NAFHA forums teach us anything, it's that we can put a kingsnake on the ground in front of 20 herpers, and from that action, at least 12 of us will disagree on the first word said about it, 6 of us will come to blows, and 5 of us will buy Hubbs' latest book.
Love it!

Thanks for the well-reasoned and well-written contribution to this discussion.

John

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gbin
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by gbin » October 24th, 2013, 4:57 am

Kelly Mc wrote:If the motivation of GP collection and captivity is to have a relationship with the living world, and learn about the animals in it, that does not happen in the vast majority of these experiences...
Not at first it doesn't, no, but people can and do change, and it's through close association with nature (in whatever form) that many people sooner or later come to appreciate nature. An awful lot of wildlife conservationists - including some of the most famous, influential and active the U.S. has ever known - started out as hunters or fishermen.

I'm not saying that genuinely managed harvest will save wildlife and wild lands. I'm just saying that it's more likely to help do that than is blanket protection.

Gerry

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Fundad » October 24th, 2013, 5:02 am

99.99% of us agree Endangered and Threatened animals of every kind should be protected at all levels, including collecting, and many here work hard to contribute to the overall understanding and conservation of the herps we love.

Outside of that positive, and peace and love thought :lol: , this discussion has degraded and I am out.

I have work to do and data to collect.

Fundad

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azatrox
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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by azatrox » October 24th, 2013, 6:05 am

...And, a "BigBoy"/"BigGirl" is one who will leave it where he/she finds it. A child wants to keep it captive. I would guess that you have a lot of growing up to do.

Personally, I could care less if one wants to collect, it is not my business. But to think that collecting does not hurt wild populations is laughable. Sure, if one person collected one animal it would not hurt. However, it is not one person, it is many. Of coarse a collector does not want to think he/she is part of the problem, so here we are, again!


If you're going to present the argument that collecting is bad because it represents a viable threat to herp populations, you'll have to do better than making broad, generalized statements that reflect your opinion rather than verifiable, scientific fact. As yet, I have yet to see any verifiable evidence that collection affects the VAST MAJORITY of wild herp populations, either positively or negatively. If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it. Yes, there are a limited number of herps that are rightfully protected from collection, but these animals are more the exception than the rule in terms of their population(s). There are many more species that are protected due to outdated thinking and political reasoning than are protected due to verified scientific need.

On the other hand, if you're of THE OPINION that collecting is bad because the "more enlightened among us" leave animals as we find them, then more power to you. That's your view and it's neither correct nor incorrect...I don't collect 99.9% of what I see...not because said collection is wrong or would hurt respective populations, but rather because I enjoy photography and the challenge it represents much more than captive husbandry these days.

Let me put this another way...You could get all your herper friends together and herp every day....as long as you didn't destroy habitat, you couldn't come close to even making a dent in the wild populations of most herps.

For you to imply that collection adversely affects wild populations absolutely begs for you to back that up with data...So please....don't join the conversation, then present your opinions as fact and then drop off without presenting the data that justifies your opinions...Either present the data or state your opinions as such and call it good.

-Kris

PS - And it's "couldN'T care less"..."could care less" indicates that you do actually care and you could do less of it. ;)

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » October 24th, 2013, 8:09 pm

1) The issue I addressed concerned recreational collecting (general collecting, sports take, incidental take) by hobbyists and members of the public. Commercial collecting for monetary gain is a separate topic and thus has additional considerations. Some individuals appear to have lumped these issues together.

2) My initial remarks were related to the fact that as of 3/1/13, new regulations in Calif. placed a number of species / subspecies of herps in a hands off, 'protected' status for individual with a valid fishing license. It is my position that such regulations have ZERO conservation value for such species / subspecies.

3) The basis for my stance is that for any particular species, if one examines the factors of 'demand' in relation to numerical abundance ('supply'), recreational collecting simply cannot impact species.

4) The hypothetical example I provided was for the purpose of understanding that populations remain relatively static over decades in occupied habitats. Being hypothetical, the numbers were not real as someone seemed to interpret. Instead, I could have used 'species X' or the S. Rubber Boa mentioned by someone. The same scenario would apply.

I only chose the S. Torrent Salamander as it was one of the listed species. And the irony with the S. Torrent Salamander being placed in a no-collecting status is that there is no demand for the species. If no one collects the species, can someone explain what the salamander is it being protected against? And can someone explain exactly how the new regs. actually protect the S. Torrent Salamander if demand for the species is essentially zero?

5) Some responses seem only to reflect personal feelings, experiences, beliefs, etc. I urge those individuals to step back and try to rethink this issue in a more
impartial manner. Such an approach includes some degree of analytical thinking and not just reacting because of personal beliefs or perceptions.

6) The following points may stimulate added thought and perhaps facilitate some understanding.

A) There is considerable demand for certain species of wildlife that are designated as game or commercial species. Many of these species have been harvested by humans for many decades and yet have continued to maintain sustainable populations. So if such game and commercial species can be harvested (collected) yearly and continue as sustainable populations, then shouldn't that same scenario apply to non-game species such as herps?

B) The scientific literature has many examples in which both game and commercial species have been over-harvested with resultant declines in numerical abundance. So the question then becomes, is there some published studies in which recreational collecting of non-game species has demonstrated declines in numerical abundance of such species?

I recall reference to one scholarly account in which incidental collecting of a species of turtle somewhere in the east MAY have contributed to a localized decline. In contrast to above situation with over-harvesting of game and commercial species, I am not aware of any other studies that have identified recreational collecting as being responsible for the decline of herp species. Perhaps Dr. Sam Sweet and Dr. Jeff Boundy could give some input on that issue.

C) In Calif., the annual mean harvest of elk is somewhat above 200 animal / year at least since 2004. I would hope no one believes the elk population in Calif. exists at higher densities (animals / ha) and are more numerically abundant than the majority of herp species in Calif. including those listed in the new regulations. And it would be my view that the mean, annual reproductive output by elk is lower than most (if not all) species of herps in Calif. So if elk can be removed (harvested)
annually from the wild without producing a decline in elk populations, what reasoning would support the position that doing the same would harm species of herps?

D) Two key factors are numerical abundance (supply) in relation to the amount of collecting (demand) that takes place for any given species. I won't go into those factors at this time. But I would urge others to examine those factors as they apply to the collecting of herps. Just pick a species then examine those two factors.

E) I suspect that most individuals on this forum are not aware that for many decades, some states have allowed the commercial collecting (harvesting) of herp species. (Texas, Florida, and Louisiana come to mind.) I suspect that data from those states may indicate some herps may have been over harvested. But on the flip side, I suggest that other species have been routinely harvested for decades and have continued to maintain sustainable populations. I suggest contacting Kevin Eng of the Florida Wildlife agency to obtain reprints of the data he published on the commercial take of herps.

F) Those who believe that collecting can have negative impacts on herps or have implied ethical considerations, here are some points to consider. Do you hunt or fish? What is the difference between removing wildlife from the environment through hunting and fishing vs. collecting? Do you eat fish, shell fish (oysters, clams) or crustaceans (lobsters, crayfish). If you do, then in reality, aren't you having someone else do the collecting for you?

G) What is your position with respect to the removed of herps (and other species) from the wild by researchers, zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, museums, and institutions that produce voucher (preserved) specimens for research? If you have nothing against such collecting, doesn't that imply you have one standard for the above collecting and a different standard when it comes to the hobbyist and general public.

H) Someone questioned my 'credentials'. In a private message today, here is what I wrote to someone that has contributed to this thread.
"From your messages, it would seem you have a complete misconception about my 'status' in herpetology. The truth of the matter is that I am a rank amateur at best. It just so happens that in the 1960's, I made the decision to learn as much as possible about the life history of the Rubber Boa. Along the way, for a short period of time, I also became involve with the Sharp-tailed Snake and in doing so, happened to discover the heretofore overlooked new species in the genus Contia.

That's about the sum total of my knowledge in herpetology. But also along the way, I did acquired a certain level of experience about the basics of field herpetology as far as searching and finding species. That experience went well with my educational background in wildlife science. So I may come on as appearing to be 'professional' but in reality, that is a facade."

I) And last, my approach to issues has been to be as objective as possible. That is, I endeavor to adopt an impartial position and then ask questions. So long ago, I posed the question as to whether or not recreational collecting of herps could produce serious and lasting negative impacts? I have not encountered any evidence that would remotely supports the position that recreational collecting can produce lasting negative impacts.

My background in wildlife science and understanding of the basic principles that govern populations supports the position that such recreational collecting cannot
possibly harm the overall populations of herp species with perhaps some rare exceptions ----which I have yet to learn about.

For those with an open mind, I hope the above might add to your understanding. And if any one wishes, I can be contacted at [email protected]. I will be gone to the Oregon Falconer's Assn. fall meet this weekend so will not be able to respond right away.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by azatrox » October 25th, 2013, 5:34 am

Richard, your outline and explanations bring this topic right back on track...The questions you ask should have been the very first questions that CaF&G asked prior to adding a closed season status to herps....Intuitively, it makes sense...If there's no demand for a certain species, then any protection from this non-existent demand is simply symbolic in nature and does not represent any real steps towards species survival. Unfortunately, it appears that most politicians and wildlife commissioners either don't have the ability or the inclination (perhaps both?) to critically analyze whether their decisions will have a real, substantial result for native wildlife. Maybe they just want to protect stuff because it "feels good".

Re: your questions for those that oppose recreational collecting, I think you hit the nail on the head. There is no real, substantive difference between hunting/fishing/recreational collecting for the species involved...all captured animals are removed from the ecosystem, and as such are ecologically dead. Makes no difference if said animals are served up on a plate or kept in an aquarium afterwards. Unfortunately, there are those who cannot separate their personal ideologies from reality. Whether one thinks recreational collecting should be allowed or banned, one cannot logically debate the fact that recreational collecting has a negligible impact upon the vast majority of herp populations. So, if one is not in favor of allowing responsible recreational collecting, then the reasons for feeling so must lie outside of the verifiable, scientific world.

-Kris

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by dthor68 » October 25th, 2013, 7:02 am

azatrox wrote:
If you're going to present the argument that collecting is bad because it represents a viable threat to herp populations, you'll have to do better than making broad, generalized statements that reflect your opinion rather than verifiable, scientific fact. As yet, I have yet to see any verifiable evidence that collection affects the VAST MAJORITY of wild herp populations, either positively or negatively. If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it. Yes, there are a limited number of herps that are rightfully protected from collection, but these animals are more the exception than the rule in terms of their population(s). There are many more species that are protected due to outdated thinking and political reasoning than are protected due to verified scientific need.
I have no data that proves collecting has a negative impact on wild populations. Do you have any data that proves that collecting is not harmful to wild populations? You are making a broad generalized statement yourself. There is no verifiable scientific evidence that collecting does not harm wild populations. However, you do agree with me that collecting Indigo Snakes would effect their population, right? If so, why would you attack me on this? Do you think that no one collects Indigos because they are an endangered species?
Let me put this another way...You could get all your herper friends together and herp every day....as long as you didn't destroy habitat, you couldn't come close to even making a dent in the wild populations of most herps.
Wow, that is quite a statement to make without any data to prove it right or wrong. If that is true why are "Field Herp Forum" members so secretive of their spots. I have never once seen a member give an exact location to find a species. What are you all worried about? I am sure you are worried about your spot being trashed and all the animals stolen from it, right? Yet, you do not agree with me that collecting is bad. I am confused?

I guess I am "enlightened" because I do not take animals out of the wild, sell animals or breed weird morps and sell them to people who will release them into the wild a couple years later. What you call enlightened I call being responsible. I have nothing more to say here.

Take care and be safe,
Derek

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by azatrox » October 25th, 2013, 7:56 am

I have no data that proves collecting has a negative impact on wild populations. Do you have any data that proves that collecting is not harmful to wild populations? You are making a broad generalized statement yourself. There is no verifiable scientific evidence that collecting does not harm wild populations. However, you do agree with me that collecting Indigo Snakes would effect their population, right? If so, why would you attack me on this? Do you think that no one collects Indigos because they are an endangered species?

Yes, actually I do have evidence that recreational collecting does not harm wild populations. I herp some areas here in Arizona that are HAMMERED every year by people that come here from all over the world to see and collect animals. Yet, I STILL find animals from all different age classes in the very same areas that are hit the most, and this would indicate that not only are the animals continuing to exist, but they’re actually breeding. A basic understanding of population dynamics would lead one to conclude that a certain portion of any given population is SUPPOSED to be removed (either via collection, predation, climactic conditions, etc.) from a given population in any given year…It matters not the manner of removal…For the VAST majority of herps, the population loss due to recreational collecting is negligible as evidenced by numerous herp surveys and personal observations.

I’m not attacking you…I don’t know you so nothing about what I posted can reasonably be construed as personal in nature. I AM however calling into question your viewpoints re: recreational collection and the potential impacts of such. With regard to the vast majority of herp species, your viewpoint that recreational collection adversely impacts wild populations just doesn’t hold any scientific water.

With regard to Drymarchon, I’d say that habitat destruction/alteration is a MUCH greater threat than recreational collection. In fact, Drymarchon reached its current status not because people were mass collecting them, but because habitat was being destroyed to throw up apartments, strip malls, etc. As far as the justification for protection now, the protection from personal collection is inconsequential to the survival of the species…If you REALLY want to protect them, then you’ve got to protect their habitat. This holds true for just about every species of herp…Protection from collection while leaving the habitat open for development is nothing more than “feel good” legislation at best.

Wow, that is quite a statement to make without any data to prove it right or wrong. If that is true why are "Field Herp Forum" members so secretive of their spots. I have never once seen a member give an exact location to find a species. What are you all worried about? I am sure you are worried about your spot being trashed and all the animals stolen from it, right? Yet, you do not agree with me that collecting is bad. I am confused?

Members are primarily tight lipped because of habitat destruction, not species extinction. If the habitat is protected, we don’t have to worry about all the animals being stolen in the vast majority of cases…Hell, even when the habitat is thrashed, the animal still persist…Even so called “sensitive” species continue to exist in areas that are pummeled on an annual basis. ..Again the primary concern is twofold…One, Protect the habitat and you (by default) protect the herps…and two, we enjoy going places where we can herp without bumping shoulders with 12 other people that also know about it.

I don’t agree with you that collection is bad because to do so is to ignore the fact that almost every population of animals has a baseline “sustainable loss” number….This number represents the total number of animals that could be lost in order for that population to remain viable. Anything below that number that is lost (by predation, collection, climate change, etc.) will not adversely affect whether that population persists…And responsible recreational collection (without habitat destruction) is a VERY small pressure on most wild herps. Collecting in that sense is NO different than legal hunting or fishing….It’s the responsible utilization of natural resources.

At this point, I’m failing to see how what I’ve outlined here doesn’t make sense…As stated earlier, you certainly have your viewpoints, but that doesn’t mean that your views are supported by scientific data.

I guess I am "enlightened" because I do not take animals out of the wild, sell animals or breed weird morps and sell them to people who will release them into the wild a couple years later. What you call enlightened I call being responsible. I have nothing more to say here.

Hell, I don’t collect 99.9% of what I see either…That’s what my camera is for…But I choose not to collect most of what I see not because I’m worried that doing so will adversely affect wild populations (in most cases it won’t), but rather because I enjoy photography and the challenges it represents. I’d much rather spend my time herping and photographing wild animals than animal husbandry.

As far as releasing captive animals into the wild, that’s not responsible and is in fact illegal in many states…As far as breeding weird morphs and such, that doesn’t affect wild populations of herps, so it’s really not germane to our discussion here.

-Kris

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Jeff » October 25th, 2013, 8:14 am

Derek --
If that is true why are "Field Herp Forum" members so secretive of their spots. I have never once seen a member give an exact location to find a species. What are you all worried about?
FHF policy forbids disclosure of specific localities on the Forum.

Richard Hoyer --
I recall reference to one scholarly account in which incidental collecting of a species of turtle somewhere in the east MAY have contributed to a localized decline. In contrast to above situation with over-harvesting of game and commercial species, I am not aware of any other studies that have identified recreational collecting as being responsible for the decline of herp species.
Here's one turtle reference "Garber, S. D. and J. Burger. 1995. A 20-yr study documenting the relationship between turtle decline and human recreation. Ecological Applications 5:1151–1162."

I've conducted two studies (unpublished reports) to determine the impact of commercial take on turtles. One study compared Gulf Coast Box Turtle populations in three harvest sites vs. three protected sites. The result was that there were about 40% as many adult box turtles in harvest sites than protected sites, but the population structure (sex ratio, size classes, etc.) were the same. The study was conducted during concurrent harvest of the turtles.

The other study, focused on Alligator Snapping Turtles, compared trap rates in streams with differing harvest histories. The surveys were conducted in 1997, 2007 and 2012/2013 at the same sites. General trap rate for turtles was a little higher in harvest streams vs. low impact streams. The ASt trap rate declined some in 2007, but was up again in 2013. Also, juvenile recruitment was significantly higher in 2013 than in the previous surveys. Other turtle species varied in trap rates, somewhat independently of each other, with some relation to particular streams (i.e., microhabitats). Commercial harvest of ASTs in the survey area had plummeted after the mid 1980s.

The recreational take of most Louisiana amphibians and reptiles (food species such as bullfrogs and some turtles excepted) is negligible, almost non-existent. Our situation is very different from what I experienced when I lived in California and Arizona during the 1960s-1980s. Folks just don't flock to Louisiana to catch the local critters. My quantitative surveys during the past 20 years have shown a variety of trends -- increases, decreases and lack of change, none of which can be associated with take by humans.

A study that I like to cite is one of the chapters in the Grigg et al. (1986) Biology of Australian Frogs and Reptiles (at home, so I can't provide the exact number). The authors estimate that the recreational/scientific human take of Australian Amphibians and Reptiles is about one animal per millions.

Jeff

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 25th, 2013, 2:18 pm

azatrox wrote: There is no real, substantive difference between hunting/fishing/recreational collecting for the species involved...all captured animals are removed from the ecosystem, and as such are ecologically dead. Makes no difference if said animals are served up on a plate or kept in an aquarium afterwards.
...or simply run over, either accidentally or for 'sport;' or PAVED over for that new subdivision. As I understand it, developers in some areas pay a fee for the ESTIMATED number of 'protected species X' they think their project will destroy.

From an ecological standpoint, it would make no difference if the animals were paved over or collected. The appropriate state-level Wildlife Department (or equivalent) could take the estimated number of 'protected species X' provided the developer, and sell/raffle off that same number of 'salvage permits' to interested individuals. The permittee would be allowed to herp the land slated for development and keep the number of 'protected species X' for which they bought salvage permits.

The money raised through such sales could be pumped back into the nongame division of aforementioned Wildlife Department for further research on 'protected species X,' herpers interested in working with/learning more/breeding that species would be able to legally do so...what's the downside (other than people feeling something about that just ain't right)?

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by hellihooks » October 26th, 2013, 8:37 am

chris_mcmartin wrote:
azatrox wrote: There is no real, substantive difference between hunting/fishing/recreational collecting for the species involved...all captured animals are removed from the ecosystem, and as such are ecologically dead. Makes no difference if said animals are served up on a plate or kept in an aquarium afterwards.
...or simply run over, either accidentally or for 'sport;' or PAVED over for that new subdivision. As I understand it, developers in some areas pay a fee for the ESTIMATED number of 'protected species X' they think their project will destroy.

From an ecological standpoint, it would make no difference if the animals were paved over or collected. The appropriate state-level Wildlife Department (or equivalent) could take the estimated number of 'protected species X' provided the developer, and sell/raffle off that same number of 'salvage permits' to interested individuals. The permittee would be allowed to herp the land slated for development and keep the number of 'protected species X' for which they bought salvage permits.

The money raised through such sales could be pumped back into the nongame division of aforementioned Wildlife Department for further research on 'protected species X,' herpers interested in working with/learning more/breeding that species would be able to legally do so...what's the downside (other than people feeling something about that just ain't right)?
I think Chris has hit upon an approach that makes better sense than trying to re-vamp the whole wildlife management paradigm, which has become (due to size and time) practically unmovable.... to wit: small steps.
Champion small steps (changes) in the direction we want to go...which make the next steps more palatable and sensible.

Along with Chris's 'salvage permit' idea, I'll re-suggest (for Ca, at least) the citizen scientist 'herp stamp' on fishing licenses, allowing photos/data to be collected on all Ca herps. :thumb:

Ideally...a (somewhat) long-term plan for a logical progression of 'small steps' should be devised, to produce more reasonable herp management policies. Any other '1st-step' ideas out there? jim

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 26th, 2013, 8:52 am

hellihooks wrote:Any other '1st-step' ideas out there? jim
You might be interested in taking the survey I hope to roll out in the next few days...it addresses these and many other issues. I will post a link when it's ready.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by hellihooks » October 26th, 2013, 2:27 pm

heck ya... :beer: sorry bout misspelling your name ... overworked all week and very groggy this morn...before heading out to put another half day in... :( jim

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Bali Reptile Rescue » October 27th, 2013, 1:51 pm

To pretend that uncontrolled collection will have low impact on reptile bird or animal species is very strange to me
Examples
If you look at bali starling, virtually extinct in the wild in 2000
only 3 pairs still existed
65 captive bred birds were released in North west bali
nearly all were hunted by collectors and they are now considered extinct in Bali
10 pairs were released in Nusa Penida in 2006
about 400 now live there and are breeding very well on a protected island
if that area was open to collection they would be gone within 6 months

Sumatran retics are reaching crisis point
less than 30% of female skins exported last year were of egg laying size
that means that the big females are virtually gone
genetic damage caused by this will have a huge impact on their future
Exactly same thing happening with blood pythons
thankfully burmese are now protected and may recover in some areas of Indonesia

Several chondro locales are virtually devoid of all reptile life because chondro hunters have run out of chondros so take anything that moves
Exactly the same thing is happening with dwarf retics in their isolated locales
Dwarf retics, boelins and chondros are only taken for the pet trade

Most turtle species here are either endangered or critically endangered

So while some reptiles etc may not be endangered by over collection many others can easily be wiped out

We do not agree that their should be no wild collection of wildlife
But we think that controls and quotas need to be in place

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by cbernz » October 27th, 2013, 4:03 pm

I am sure Richard Hoyer has legitimate gripes with his local laws, but making broad, unproven claims about the nature of collecting and population dynamics is pointless and divisive. I agree with what seems to be the general consensus here - let's talk about individual cases and leave the grand sweeping statements to the politicians and Super-Pacs.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Jeff » October 27th, 2013, 5:15 pm

but making broad, unproven claims about the nature of collecting and population dynamics is pointless and divisive. I agree with what seems to be the general consensus here - let's talk about individual cases and leave the grand sweeping statements to the politicians and Super-Pacs.
You just made a 'grand sweeping statement'.

Having a long-term knowledge of particular species, whether few or many, does present factual evidence about the nature of their populations and the factors that positively and negatively effect their persistence. These are not gripes with local laws, but reflect a knowing (or non-dis-approvable) claim that placing a zero bag limit on species does two things: does nothing to protect the species from decline, and prohibits the acquisition of useful data about their populations. Richard Hoyer's use of the Southern Torrent Salamander is a perfect example: people are very rarely collecting them (if so, usually under a Scientific Collecting Permit), and prohibition of collecting presents a false assumption that the State has prevented a threat to the survival of the species.

Most of the non-ESA species that are presented for zero bag limits can demonstrably shown to be under near zero threat from commercial or recreational take.

The statements by BaliReptileRescue are valid where commercial interests, if illegal, are able to avoid enforcement. For most of the species listed in particular States as needing zero bag limits, the Indonesian factors are impertinent.

Jeff

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by cbernz » October 27th, 2013, 7:54 pm

Jeff wrote:You just made a 'grand sweeping statement'.
Maybe, but I can at least back up my grand sweeping statement with data - as in this thread and several others on this very website.

Here's the sticking point for me. Why do people continuously feel the need to post these "collecting is harmless" threads? We see them over and over again (and not just on this website, and not just herp-related, either). They often include a personal story or relate some experience the poster has had with a particular taxon or group of taxa, but they tend to expand into an anti-regulatory rant supported by flimsy evidence. Why? These threads tend to be started by intelligent, well-respected people with lots of field experience. They are obviously more than capable of making strong cases for their own work or against specific laws that affect animals they have experience with. Why bother standing on such a poorly constructed soapbox? How can anyone defend such statements as "the reason why species have declined is invariably due to outright loss and / or degradation of habitat" or "Collecting...can only incur changes in populations if demand approaches or exceeds the supply produced during reproduction"? It's impossible. It doesn't matter how many examples of species being seemingly unaffected by collecting people come up with. They are meaningless. It doesn't mean that a species decline caused by collecting can't happen. Nobody can prove it can't happen without solid population data over the course of many years for every species on earth. Saying that collecting is harmless because there are lots of earthworms and Torrent Salamanders is LUDICROUS.

Personally, I would much rather hear your own experience with a particular species or group of species than be preached at and cajoled into agreeing with you that collecting is always fine. So if you are going to repost an argument from another forum here in the hopes of shaming us idiots who think that it's possible "that recreation collecting or sports take of herps can harm species," then please don't take offense if I say that I think posts of this type are at best a subconscious and at worst a deliberate attempt to advance the poster's self-interest over that of the animals. Something along the lines of "I wish I could collect this species" or "I wish I could get permits for this study." And for the sake of argument, let's just pretend that I know 6 people who have made this argument who are also frustrated collectors. That's proof enough for me.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 27th, 2013, 8:36 pm

cbernz wrote:please don't take offense if I say that I think posts of this type are at best a subconscious and at worst a deliberate attempt to advance the poster's self-interest over that of the animals.
The collective 'we' may be talking past each other due to imprecise language.

If we are talking about "the animals," are we talking "individual animals" or "species?"

If I take your statement to mean "individual animals," then yes, I and anyone else advocating managed take are putting self-interest (or, perhaps, collective human interest) over that of the individual animals (specimens).

If I take your statement to mean "species," then I disagree...in many lines of research, individual animals are sacrificed to better understand the natural history of the species, and in turn maybe inform management policy.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Kelly Mc » October 28th, 2013, 2:10 am

Nobody is knocking on taking for research.
its the looking at everything that moves through utilitarian eyes, its such a square bag. Keeps people small in their repository of thoughts & actions.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 28th, 2013, 3:29 am

Research is just one example.

Suppose a person takes home an animal he/she finds, and in turn learns about its care, maybe finds out some new behavior and shares that information, and develops a greater appreciation not only for the individual animal but its conspecifics (and more importantly, their habitat and ecosystem). Maybe that person then thinks twice about supporting a development project, or buying products resulting from said habitat's destruction.

Although the initial motivation may have been self-interest, the outcome is arguably in the best interest of not only the species, but everything which shares that environ.

How many times do we hear from the uninformed (but well-meaning) that we should convert much of the Southwest to wind farms, or worse, arrays of solar panels, because it's an 'empty wasteland' anyway? Or the same bunch grousing about how a 'stupid tortoise' is holding up the building of another housing area or golf course?

Perhaps they'd think differently if they'd spent some time with a chuckwalla or a desert tortoise. Although they may not have the means or inclination to spend an appreciable amount of time in their natural habitat, being exposed to Neighbor Johnny's 'pet' chuck/tort, or one of their own, might instill some spark of "maybe we can find better/smarter/less impactful ways to coexist than to pave over (with asphalt or solar panels) their habitat."

I know some will say this is all just wishful thinking, that some folks just want to exploit the animals through breeding and selling them. If the concern is that there aren't enough of species X, it seems that people committed to making more of them are not the best target for a 'hands-off' management plan.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by azatrox » October 28th, 2013, 5:13 am

Research is just one example.

Suppose a person takes home an animal he/she finds, and in turn learns about its care, maybe finds out some new behavior and shares that information, and develops a greater appreciation not only for the individual animal but its conspecifics (and more importantly, their habitat and ecosystem). Maybe that person then thinks twice about supporting a development project, or buying products resulting from said habitat's destruction.

Although the initial motivation may have been self-interest, the outcome is arguably in the best interest of not only the species, but everything which shares that environ.

How many times do we hear from the uninformed (but well-meaning) that we should convert much of the Southwest to wind farms, or worse, arrays of solar panels, because it's an 'empty wasteland' anyway? Or the same bunch grousing about how a 'stupid tortoise' is holding up the building of another housing area or golf course?

Perhaps they'd think differently if they'd spent some time with a chuckwalla or a desert tortoise. Although they may not have the means or inclination to spend an appreciable amount of time in their natural habitat, being exposed to Neighbor Johnny's 'pet' chuck/tort, or one of their own, might instill some spark of "maybe we can find better/smarter/less impactful ways to coexist than to pave over (with asphalt or solar panels) their habitat."

I know some will say this is all just wishful thinking, that some folks just want to exploit the animals through breeding and selling them. If the concern is that there aren't enough of species X, it seems that people committed to making more of them are not the best target for a 'hands-off' management plan.


Chris...STOP! Just STOP!

You're making too much damn sense to be here.

That an initial self interest might (and often does) lead to a greater, broader interest in a societal context is apparently something inconceivable to some here....

That one may actually help wild populations of animals by captive breeding them (thus eliminating the need for some to go out and collect or raising awareness among the unintitated) is apparently a concept foreign to some that frequent this here forum.

You have your facts, I have my feelings but I'M RIGHT!!!!! :lol:

-Kris

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by cbernz » October 28th, 2013, 5:16 am

Chris, I totally agree with what you just wrote. You gave an excellent defense of managed take. However, it didn't seem to me like you were saying that it's a universally bad idea to put any collecting restrictions on any species, or that you were defending the idea that protection is a fundamentally flawed policy. It's the "you can't over-collect something that is numerous" mantra I have a problem with. All it takes is one case to disprove it. If we are wrong about collecting being a problem, then we have lots of animals and some angry collectors. If we are wrong about collecting NOT being a problem, we might end up losing a species. Is this a philosophy worth testing?

So, for all the reasons you just mentioned, I agree that it is worthwhile to allow some species to be collected, and to discuss laws that seem unfair or based on bad science or reasoning. And, for the reasons I've mentioned, I reject the notion that over-collecting is impossible. There is always a tipping point. Being cautious, even overly so, to avoid that tipping point is not a bad idea. Pretending that tipping point doesn't exist is dangerous. The track record throughout history of people who said "that's impossible" is dismally poor.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by gbin » October 28th, 2013, 6:08 am

cbernz wrote:... It doesn't matter how many examples of species being seemingly unaffected by [SUNBURN] people come up with. They are meaningless. It doesn't mean that a species decline caused by [SUNBURN] can't happen. Nobody can prove it can't happen without solid population data over the course of many years for every species on earth. Saying that [SUNBURN] is harmless because there are lots of earthworms and Torrent Salamanders is LUDICROUS.
So legislation requiring that wildlife wear sunblock is apparently justified?... ;)

I'm not trying to make fun of you, cbernz, but simply to point out that your line of argument actually contains little real reason and even less supporting data. Wild species certainly have suffered from collection - commercial collection, at least - before, but in wildlife conservation overall this "threat," though quite often raised, is so trivial as to be virtually pointless. (It's happened before that species have suffered from overexposure to the sun, too, by the way.) Worse than that, "hands-off" legislation allows people to feel as if no more needs be done on behalf of a species when in fact effectively nothing is being done. Effective management targets action at meaningful threats. It makes good sense for anyone who cares about wildlife conservation to decry ineffective management, not to mention ineffective management that gets in the way of effective management.

I understand - and share - your unhappiness with people for repeatedly starting threads/discussions such as this. We've covered it all before ad nauseam, after all. And I and others have occasionally chided Richard about not making too sweeping statements in presenting his (our) position, too. But that being said his behavior is pretty understandable to me, even if not to you. Despite the fact that non-commercial collection is not a genuine concern for the great majority of wildlife species, it is listed as a possible threat virtually every time conservation concerns of this or that small(ish) species (with potential for being kept as a pet) are mentioned in a public venue. In television shows and news reports, in magazine articles, even in scientific papers where it belongs least of all (lacking in supporting data as it virtually always is). Consequently a great many people with good intentions but insufficient education concerning what they hear about wildlife conservation are fooled into supporting a bogus strategy. The subject is also raised on this very message board far more often and in many more ways (albeit generally more subtly than in threads such as this one started by Richard) by those promoting this bogus strategy than by those decrying it. You surely can't have missed the fact that anti-collection sentiment is very frequently expressed on this message board these days, and that supposed harm to populations is most often offered as the rationale.
cbernz wrote:... I think posts of this type are at best a subconscious and at worst a deliberate attempt to advance the poster's self-interest over that of the animals. Something along the lines of "I wish I could collect this species" or "I wish I could get permits for this study." And for the sake of argument, let's just pretend that I know 6 people who have made this argument who are also frustrated collectors. That's proof enough for me.
I'm sure that does play a part in some folks' motivation. It seems to me that most people are motivated in most areas by such, unfortunately (though as a few of us have repeatedly pointed out, this motivation can and does frequently grow into something much better). But I'd suggest that you try not to apply that argument either too liberally or even specifically without any supporting evidence - unless of course YOUR motive is simply to offend. In my case, for example, I am a career wildlife scientist who has worked on conservation issues much more often than not, and I quit keeping herps several years ago. Whether you choose to believe me or not, my stance and the arguments I state for it are an attempt to encourage people to aim their passion where it can do some real good rather than act as a roadblock to others seeking to accomplish that. (That and the fact that I don't like to see people bamboozled on any issue, whether or not it's one I care about.) That's it in a nutshell. And again whether you choose to believe me or not, I have known a great many other career wildlife scientists/conservationists who see this issue the same way that I do.

Gerry (who'd much rather see us find things to unite rather than divide us)

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by azatrox » October 28th, 2013, 6:25 am

Chris, I totally agree with what you just wrote. You gave an excellent defense of managed take. However, it didn't seem to me like you were saying that it's a universally bad idea to put any collecting restrictions on any species, or that you were defending the idea that protection is a fundamentally flawed policy. It's the "you can't over-collect something that is numerous" mantra I have a problem with. All it takes is one case to disprove it. If we are wrong about collecting being a problem, then we have lots of animals and some angry collectors. If we are wrong about collecting NOT being a problem, we might end up losing a species. Is this a philosophy worth testing?

So, for all the reasons you just mentioned, I agree that it is worthwhile to allow some species to be collected, and to discuss laws that seem unfair or based on bad science or reasoning. And, for the reasons I've mentioned, I reject the notion that over-collecting is impossible. There is always a tipping point. Being cautious, even overly so, to avoid that tipping point is not a bad idea. Pretending that tipping point doesn't exist is dangerous. The track record throughout history of people who said "that's impossible" is dismally poor.


CBernz...I don't think anyone is arguing for unregulated collection, and I don't think anyone is arguing that a given species can't be overcollected if given certain parameters...History is rich in examples wherein species that were once common are brought to the brink of extinction (and in some cases over it). Rather, I think what is at issue here is regulated take vs. a total ban on collection for everything. It is my view that those that favor a complete ban on collection ignore some very fundamental realities of population dynamics and wildlife ecology...why they do so is beyond me, but there it is.

I'm in agreement that collection (whether for personal, scientific or commercial use) should be regulated in much the same way as collection of large game animals are...Even C. atrox has possession limits here in Arizona, and the possession limits are set at a reasonable level (4 in possession). Arizona has similar collection limits for all of its open season reptiles and amphibians, but obviously those limits vary depending upon the species and locations in question. IMO, this is the appropriate method for ensuring that populations of wild herps remain viable while still allowing limited collection.

Any collect/no collect legal questions should look to science to determine whether or not sustainable harvest is warranted in a given circumstance. Unfortunately, science is seldom a relevant factor in the decision making process for many wildlife management agencies...They "protect" something because it may have commercial appeal or it appears to be rare....Seldom are such theories tested scientifically, and even when they are (and found to be invaild), seldom are laws changed to better conform to what science says is appropriate. It's often easier for wildlife management agencies to manage by exclusion rather than revised inclusion where appropriate.

"Hands off" management is one management strategy, but a grossly ineffective and inappropriate one in most cases. Yes, there are some cases where such a policy is appropriate (because science says so), but in the vast majority of cases most populations of animals can withstand limited harvest and remain viable...They've been doing it for millions of years anyway.

-Kris

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by hellihooks » October 28th, 2013, 7:03 am

This latest turn in the conversation makes me recall raising a Chinese Spotted Leopard up, from a two-day old cub. People would walk by and say things like 'that cat shouldn't be in a cage' and 'it should be set free'. Thing is... they no longer exist in the wild. They ONLY exist in Zoos and private collections. My point here is...they DO still exist.

People (by and large) are greedy. One of our baser instincts, and ameliorated by education, but true none the less. Value is tied to scarcity (rarity)... and it doesn't matter whether it be animal, vegetable or mineral... if it is scarce...there WILL be a market for it...whether it be legal or a 'black market'.

I find it interesting that when something does become critically imperiled in the wild (and most often unrelated to collection pressure) captive bred production and re-introduction is attempted, as a 'last-ditch' effort...when allowing captive bred production all along would have most likely counteracted the 'demand' that may or may not have contributed to the animal's decline in the wild.

I could list many specific examples, where it is far cheaper to now buy a cb, than go collect one yourself (like Whitewater Rosys) but let me relate one story, that makes my point. I was at B. Howard's house, in the mid-70's, when he paid $600 for one of the first ever albino Ca Kings ever found, from Davis Ca. Alb Kings are now a staple in the pet trade and are in fact cheaper than some locality-specific kings.

Given our basic nature to remain slaves to 'supply and demand', we should employ this baser instinct to our advantage, rather than try to fight it. Unregulated captive-bred production would serve as a hedge against extinction, and save tons of money tracking down and prosecuting the 'black market' that WILL exist, no matter how many laws are passed. :roll:

Would I prefer the whole world was enlightened enough to leave rare/endangered animals/habitat undisturbed...of course. Will that ever happen? probably not. Can I (we) depend upon supply and demand remaining a driving motivation? I'm gonna have to say 'YES'. food for thought... :? jim

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by cbernz » October 28th, 2013, 8:18 am

azatrox wrote:CBernz...I don't think anyone is arguing for unregulated collection, and I don't think anyone is arguing that a given species can't be overcollected if given certain parameters
That's pretty much what I took away from the original post. I've tried to be as direct as possible in stating what I do and don't think about the issue, and given the degree to which my views have been misunderstood, it seems only fair to allow that I may have misunderstood the original post as well (or at least misinterpreted the intent).

Look, we basically all agree that collection can and does serve a worthwhile purpose, and that its effects on animal populations generally pale in comparison to other factors such as habitat loss and climate. We also all seem to agree that there are, or at least can be, cases where collecting can have negative effects. I think the big difference is that many people on here accept "collecting doesn't affect animal populations" as shorthand for "based on what we know, in most cases collecting has no detectable affect on animal populations, provided demand isn't great and the populations aren't too small," or whatever variation on that you subscribe to. I just don't like that shorthand, I think it's bad rhetoric, and I don't think I'm alone in thinking this way. Beyond that I really don't think we have much more to argue about, and I have nothing more to add on the topic, really.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by WSTREPS » October 28th, 2013, 3:55 pm

The topic has drifted in spots somewhat from Mr. Hoyers intent. What he was speciflty talking about was the need for regulation concerning the recreational take of common species that are known to have little collector or commercial interests. Clearly the answer is no.

In my previous post I gave various examples of extreme instances where completely unregulated species have had intentional eradication programs launched against them. Species that have been harvested commercially in astronomical numbers and in some cases killed out of persecution ( western D back ) or a combination of these things.

Yet all of these creatures remain abundant today. I don't believe it will take years of study and documenting , solid population (what ever someone may consider solid) data to prove the western diamondback has a thriving population nor will it for the many other common and widespread species.

The commercial collection of reptiles in States is at an all time low. The viable uses of wild caught animals are lessening every day. The pet market is dominated by captive bred animals and this area has steadily grown. Even the Chinese turtle market has slowed to a virtual halt as their farms mature and become productive. Alligator farms might be the only exception. The live international trade has followed suit with less and less demand for wild caught animals. In all cases the numbers have gone way down.



Sumatran retics are reaching crisis point
less than 30% of female skins exported last year were of egg laying size
that means that the big females are virtually gone
genetic damage caused by this will have a huge impact on their future
Exactly same thing happening with blood pythons
thankfully burmese are now protected and may recover in some areas of Indonesia

Several chondro locales are virtually devoid of all reptile life because chondro hunters have run out of chondros so take anything that moves
Exactly the same thing is happening with dwarf retics in their isolated locales
Dwarf retics, boelins and chondros are only taken for the pet trade

We do not agree that their should be no wild collection of wildlife

But we think that controls and quotas need to be in place


I have a few points of contention with some of that statement but none that I will address in this thread. What I will say is that all the species mentioned in the above statement are already subject to strict regulations and quotas as set by CITES .

CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system. Each Party to the Convention must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species. That highlighted part is kind of interesting.

As a side note somewhere I think someone mentioned golden toads. These animals were actually the victims not being collected. Tracy Barker did a study of this species (1980 maybe) and recommended that they be collected. She felt that an attempt at establishing a captive breeding population would be the best course of action. She was met with disapproval and denied.

Ernie Eison

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by dthor68 » October 29th, 2013, 6:40 am

cbernz wrote:
Chris, I totally agree with what you just wrote. You gave an excellent defense of managed take. However, it didn't seem to me like you were saying that it's a universally bad idea to put any collecting restrictions on any species, or that you were defending the idea that protection is a fundamentally flawed policy. It's the "you can't over-collect something that is numerous" mantra I have a problem with. All it takes is one case to disprove it. If we are wrong about collecting being a problem, then we have lots of animals and some angry collectors. If we are wrong about collecting NOT being a problem, we might end up losing a species. Is this a philosophy worth testing?

So, for all the reasons you just mentioned, I agree that it is worthwhile to allow some species to be collected, and to discuss laws that seem unfair or based on bad science or reasoning. And, for the reasons I've mentioned, I reject the notion that over-collecting is impossible. There is always a tipping point. Being cautious, even overly so, to avoid that tipping point is not a bad idea. Pretending that tipping point doesn't exist is dangerous. The track record throughout history of people who said "that's impossible" is dismally poor.
Well said.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by jonathan » October 29th, 2013, 9:55 pm

cbernz and others, you seem to be blind to what Richard actually said.

Richard repeatedly listed game species management as the MODEL for good wildlife management. Game species management is REGULATED, not unregulated. Now, for the vast majority of herp species, desire for take is so low that regulated take and unregulated take would be effectively the same. But you can't claim that Richard is promoting a regulation-less world. He is promoting an effective management world. And if you look at the California list of sensitive species, almost none of them are currently being significantly affected in a positive way by the barriers on take.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by jonathan » October 29th, 2013, 10:05 pm

cbernz wrote:Chris, I totally agree with what you just wrote. You gave an excellent defense of managed take. However, it didn't seem to me like you were saying that it's a universally bad idea to put any collecting restrictions on any species, or that you were defending the idea that protection is a fundamentally flawed policy.
Is there a significant number of people talking here who are arguing that it is a universally bad idea to put any collecting restrictions on any species? I thought people were generally okay with managed take and logical limits.

cbernz wrote:And, for the reasons I've mentioned, I reject the notion that over-collecting is impossible. There is always a tipping point. Being cautious, even overly so, to avoid that tipping point is not a bad idea. Pretending that tipping point doesn't exist is dangerous. The track record throughout history of people who said "that's impossible" is dismally poor.
Would you accept that, even if no one ever collected another animal of any kind, that the majority of species on Earth would be completely screwed due to the other damage we're doing to the environment? The trends on habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change are not good.

And would you grant that a hands-off legal approach to interacting with nature does nothing to stop any of those trends? And would you also grant that it is possible that a regulated hands-on approach could be part of a wholistic effort to reduce Nature Deficit Disorder and potentially get a larger segment of the population to care about protecting it?

I'm not saying that you have to agree that these people are right. But I'm only asking that you think a little longer about the possibilities they're raising. I'm not what anyone could consider "pro-collection" by any means (just look at my first post in this thread, or my contribution to the recent photography thread about the problems with even moving herps), but in terms of population dynamics and the big picture, I think they're on much firmer ground than you.

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by jonathan » October 29th, 2013, 10:10 pm

cbernz wrote: There is NO WAY you can prove that statement is universally true, any more than I can prove that collecting is the sole cause for the decline of a species or a population. The world is not a laboratory. You can't EVER assume ANYTHING remains constant. By your logic there should still be several thousand Golden Toads at Monteverde.
This may be the first time I've ever agreed with Ernie on anything, but aren't you disappointed that no one ever collected Golden toads at Monteverde?

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by Kelly Mc » October 29th, 2013, 10:37 pm

I wonder what other enthusiasts think about this topic. Like birders and persons who study and appreciate other animals. Does a disparity exist in those communities about 'Nature Deficit Disorder' and how catching, handling and removing wild fauna will best cure it?

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Re: Protection--a flawed policy

Post by jonathan » October 29th, 2013, 11:13 pm

Kelly Mc wrote:I wonder what other enthusiasts think about this topic. Like birders and persons who study and appreciate other animals. Does a disparity exist in those communities about 'Nature Deficit Disorder' and how catching, handling and removing wild fauna will best cure it?
Depends on which members of the birdwatching community you are polling. Ducks Unlimited has been one of the leading drivers of habitat conservation, no? Do they count?

We could also speak of the fishing communities and mammal hunting communities (both of which are far larger than the regularly participating no-take fish-watching and mammal-watching communities). I'm pretty sure both of those communities have also made positive contributions to keeping wild places wild, though their impact is a little species-distorted and has had its own management errors in the past. The entomology enthusiasts (my sister has her minor in that field) are also really, really big on collecting. That probably goes for most other invertebrates too.

As far as the pet trade goes, the average bird takes less work and skill to view than the average snake; but once viewed takes a lot more work and skill to keep and rear. So I always expect that the ratio of bird watchers to bird keepers will be quite a bit different than the ratio of reptile watchers to reptile keepers.

I think that watching animals in nature and watching animals in zoos and terrariums will be important routes to go to keep people interested in preserving nature. About 10 years ago I taught science in an inner-city school in Los Angeles and had an extensive classroom collection of herps, fish, and inverts. Hundreds of kids would come into my classroom each year - other teachers would even bring their entire class in for wildlife talks. Besides life science, I taught electives in herpetology and entomology every year. Those classes would have been far more lifeless without the extensive classroom examples I had for the students.

For poor kids in the inner city, the resources just don't exist to get them into nature regularly. We didn't have close to the manpower, funding, or institutional drive to organize trips to the outdoors for all our kids. But hundreds of kids could still watch snakes, frogs, lizards, turtles, salamanders, scorpions, spiders, millipedes, fish, and all sorts of insects live, hunt, eat, mate, and go about many of their other day-to-day activities because of that classroom collection. I think that was a positive contribution. And for all the other kids who can't access nature, or just don't know that they should, I think other people's collections can be a significant positive tool.

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