The Kauffeld Conundrum

Extended discussion forum.

Moderator: Scott Waters

User avatar
Biker Dave
Posts: 2854
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 6:56 pm
Location: Wittmann,AZ

The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Biker Dave » September 9th, 2010, 9:06 pm

Greetings All -

Here I go .... stirring up a big kettle of trouble ..... (or I'm just not paying attention)...


This post is a "reaction" to/ "questioning of" some of the topics about telling locations/ vacuum collectors (poachers)/ herp gods and the like.

I have been reading Kauffeld's "Snakes and Snake Hunting" (original printing with dust jacket) and it hit me. It seems to me that Carl collected everything he came across. Everything. OK, it was 50 or more years ago and a lot of science wasnt known about the herps, I get that. And he was a curator for a zoo ... but still!

Now we as herpers, of late, have been going back and forth about sharing locales etc to keep people like Carl Kauffeld (vacuum collectors) from taking everything in sight.

But we look to Kauffeld as a sort of "herping god." And that is the conundrum. A guy who collected everything he could get his paws on is looked upon as a herping god.

What am I missing? Like I said, I get that it was a long time ago in a century far far away.

Thoughts

Dave Weber

User avatar
John Martin
Posts: 515
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 9:57 pm
Location: North end of Lake Okeechobee, Florida

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by John Martin » September 9th, 2010, 9:10 pm

Biker Dave wrote:Like I said, I get that it was a long time ago in a century far far away.
I think that says it all? :? I see the point you're trying to make, but it just may not be applicable to this dude...

OK, the can of worms is officially open. :D

User avatar
Tim Borski
Posts: 1855
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:28 am
Location: FL Keys
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Tim Borski » September 10th, 2010, 3:10 am

I agree with John. I've read Snakes and snake hunting a half dozen times at least. Some darn romantic stuff in some darn romantic times to be sure and I'm ever thankful he took the time to put it on paper. To be able to turn those pages whenever I choose is only one of the reasons I "blind-eye" the conservation side of that era's coin. What he did, and more specifically, WHEN he did it, was perfectly acceptable.
Beyond that, he was Kauffeld and we are not.

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2293
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by gbin » September 10th, 2010, 4:01 am

1) It was indeed a long time ago.

2) He likely didn't collect everything he saw, but rather only reported on a lot of what he collected (and over a long period of time).

3) He wasn't collecting to sell, let alone sell illegally, nor even just for his personal collection; he was collecting for a zoo (and the animals were thereby shared with and used for educating many people).

4) Even if he had been collecting to sell, eat or whatever, he was acting within the law and caused no demonstrable harm to animal populations or habitats.

What really confuses me is why people keep trying to stir this pot. Some people collect and some people don't. Some people manipulate for photographs and some people don't. Some people post to the forum soon after their hunts and some people don't. So long as it's all legal and no demonstrable harm is being done, so what? I know there are some here who perceive harm in all kinds of places where it hasn't actually been demonstrated, but their concerns have been amply expressed, discussed and debated. Is the idea to keep stirring this pot until people abide by the wishes of precautionary principle practitioners just because they've been worn down by endless verbiage? If so, that's not going to happen. All that's going to happen is that people are going to wander away from the forum, for a little or long while, in the hope that threads like this will have ceased by the time they return. It'd be different if folks had substantially new things to say or new evidence to consider, but they don't. So how about we go back to posting about field herping?

Gerry

User avatar
regalringneck
Posts: 563
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:20 am

RxR: The Medium is the Conundrum ...

Post by regalringneck » September 10th, 2010, 5:27 am

... brilliant analysis (as usual) Dr. GB :
[All that's going to happen is that people are going to wander away from the forum, for a little or long while] ... & the pity is its typically those w/ something to offer ....
Perhaps one day herp review or some other journal will have a read only e-blog for discussion/debating some of these issues, but via this medium, i note rational & incremental development of an idea cannot occur :<
We're best using this site as it was intended; a place to showcase field herping.

salud / john gunn

nickj1199
Posts: 236
Joined: June 15th, 2010, 9:36 am
Location: seminole county, fl

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by nickj1199 » September 10th, 2010, 5:42 am

I dont go herping with the intention of collecting but I have kept some stuff before like a black racer, a ringneck, and water snake. just common stuff. also i let the racer and ringneck go.

User avatar
monklet
Posts: 2648
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Location: Ventura, CA
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by monklet » September 10th, 2010, 6:20 am

I commend you for pointing that out Dave as I myself was aware of the conundrum :thumb: I also agree for the most part with the replies. BUT, rather than a "Herper God" I would just consider him an ardent, tireless and highly skilled pioneer herper and a good writer on top of it.

It's interesting how passing years and generations tend to glorify and sanctify reputations. I have no doubt that there are many here among us this group who are equally or more so the herper/writer that Kauffeld was ...but he was among the first in an age of wonderful exploration.

User avatar
reptilist
Posts: 653
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:30 am
Location: Clifton, Arizona

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by reptilist » September 10th, 2010, 6:44 am

I don't see a problem. That was then, this is now.
Back then, 'the world was our oyster'; now, conservation is king.

If I wanted to knock him down a notch (to mere mortal status), I'd say his response to the letter sent by a 12 year old Phoenix kid in 1969 regarding the 'discovery' of a long green snake (new species?) was unnecessarily condescending.

hahaha I got over it and those days are gone.

Lloyd Heilbrunn
Posts: 282
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:15 pm
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Fl

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Lloyd Heilbrunn » September 10th, 2010, 6:46 am

Biker Dave wrote:Greetings All -

Here I go .... stirring up a big kettle of trouble ..... (or I'm just not paying attention)...


This post is a "reaction" to/ "questioning of" some of the topics about telling locations/ vacuum collectors (poachers)/ herp gods and the like.

I have been reading Kauffeld's "Snakes and Snake Hunting" (original printing with dust jacket) and it hit me. It seems to me that Carl collected everything he came across. Everything. OK, it was 50 or more years ago and a lot of science wasnt known about the herps, I get that. And he was a curator for a zoo ... but still!

Now we as herpers, of late, have been going back and forth about sharing locales etc to keep people like Carl Kauffeld (vacuum collectors) from taking everything in sight.

But we look to Kauffeld as a sort of "herping god." And that is the conundrum. A guy who collected everything he could get his paws on is looked upon as a herping god.

What am I missing? Like I said, I get that it was a long time ago in a century far far away.

Thoughts

Dave Weber
gbin wrote:1) It was indeed a long time ago.

2) He likely didn't collect everything he saw, but rather only reported on a lot of what he collected (and over a long period of time).

3) He wasn't collecting to sell, let alone sell illegally, nor even just for his personal collection; he was collecting for a zoo (and the animals were thereby shared with and used for educating many people).

4) Even if he had been collecting to sell, eat or whatever, he was acting within the law and caused no demonstrable harm to animal populations or habitats.

What really confuses me is why people keep trying to stir this pot. Some people collect and some people don't. Some people manipulate for photographs and some people don't. Some people post to the forum soon after their hunts and some people don't. So long as it's all legal and no demonstrable harm is being done, so what? I know there are some here who perceive harm in all kinds of places where it hasn't actually been demonstrated, but their concerns have been amply expressed, discussed and debated. Is the idea to keep stirring this pot until people abide by the wishes of precautionary principle practitioners just because they've been worn down by endless verbiage? If so, that's not going to happen. All that's going to happen is that people are going to wander away from the forum, for a little or long while, in the hope that threads like this will have ceased by the time they return. It'd be different if folks had substantially new things to say or new evidence to consider, but they don't. So how about we go back to posting about field herping?

Gerry

Kaufield's views, like most others, evolved over time. For example, in his early books he pinned and handheld all his hots, and in later books he used hooks and bags on a hook or pole. There were many things generally accepted 50 years ago that some frown upon now, some correctly and some stupidly.

That said, my feelings on collecting are the same as Gerry's.

scott s
Posts: 144
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 4:36 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by scott s » September 10th, 2010, 7:10 am

Reptilist,

That Is Cool! You received a letter back from K when you were TWELVE!!!!

Very Cool.......too bad you didn't keep a copy.


If smart people didn't collect these animals, we would now know almost nothing about breeding them in captivity.

Catch and release is basically a religion that appears to make the releasers feel better about themselves.

I am certainly not in favor of violating the current laws on collecting, but let's not over glamorize the saintliness of catch and release.

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by muskiemagnet » September 10th, 2010, 8:02 am

i would greatly like to talk to kauffeld. i'd enjoy picking his brain about his views on conservation, and he did "plea" for it in his books. i'm sure he thought just like us. young collector transformed into older conservationist. he saw it happening too.

my book is in storage, so i cannot quote verbatim.

i believe it is the chapter "memories of mount misery"

the CCC destroyed the den. he went there and found a young rattler at the edge of a clear-cut.

said something to the likes of, making changes so man can be safe, from himself he will never be safe.

he saw it happening too. we are in a time that conservation is key, and education is the only way to make this possible. i believe that any "destruction" (and i use this term loosely due to one's own interpretation) is caused by others who share the interest. with interest comes the desire for knowledge and so on and so forth. conservation is generally the end result of appreciation. one can only gain greater appreciation from gathering knowledge, and this usually comes from collecting of some sort. that's how i evolved. i've said in previous replies to other topics that i will never fault anyone for collecting as long as it is done legally. i will always encourage not to collect however.

increasing human population growth, coupled with habitat destruction which is a result of this growth, conservation is/should be a high priority.

i don't like seeing my spots pounded. first off, are they mine? no. are there others who think "my" spot is "theirs"? absolutely. do i have a tendency to think the worst when i see activity? yes. let's not get caught up in a doomsday scenario. there are many who feel this has not affected pops too much and there are those who do. if you think it is a problem, go gather your scientific evidence and then i will listen intently. i do agree that numbers are down lately, but is this due to over-run spots? maybe, but what other factors are being overlooked? could herps be smarter than us? maybe they simply adjusted habits. it doesn't matter. the end goal it seems we all share is that we want things to remain as they are. i don't want to lose any of the species i love. i also don't want to forget the fact that these species can and will adjust too. let's help the herps and do what we can to make this adjustment less difficult. i stand with the non-collectors. my choice for this is based solely on the fact that i feel i am doing "my" part in this way. "my" part. based on "my" opinion. no evidence to support it. just following my heart. if you don't agree, i don't care, you don't have to. if you do, that's great.

long story short. we all need to share. if collecting is your concern, voice that opinion, but do not chastise those who legally do it. is there anyone in this forum that has never collected?

this internal division has to stop. we are all friends here.

i remember seeing a show about fighter pilots. they were interviewing an ace. he was asked how good he felt about shooting down so many. his reply was unexpected by me. he said "not good at all. i would rather have bought them a beer".

-ben

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by muskiemagnet » September 10th, 2010, 8:20 am

i'm going to reply to my own reply right now.

i've realized how my views have changed a bit though the last year. these topics are a real concern to many and should continue to be discussed.

i'd been stubborn in my views of not collecting. listening to everyone else has forced me to be more accepting of the views of the hobby collectors.

i just want to say thanks for sharing. i'm looking forward to evolving with the rest of you.

-ben

gulo
Posts: 27
Joined: September 5th, 2010, 9:35 am

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by gulo » September 10th, 2010, 8:34 am

Biker Dave wrote:Greetings All -

Here I go .... stirring up a big kettle of trouble ..... (or I'm just not paying attention)...


This post is a "reaction" to/ "questioning of" some of the topics about telling locations/ vacuum collectors (poachers)/ herp gods and the like.

I have been reading Kauffeld's "Snakes and Snake Hunting" (original printing with dust jacket) and it hit me. It seems to me that Carl collected everything he came across. Everything. OK, it was 50 or more years ago and a lot of science wasnt known about the herps, I get that. And he was a curator for a zoo ... but still!

Now we as herpers, of late, have been going back and forth about sharing locales etc to keep people like Carl Kauffeld (vacuum collectors) from taking everything in sight.

But we look to Kauffeld as a sort of "herping god." And that is the conundrum. A guy who collected everything he could get his paws on is looked upon as a herping god.

What am I missing? Like I said, I get that it was a long time ago in a century far far away.

Thoughts

Dave Weber
Biker Dave - Good question! I am new to this forum, but not a newbie. I've been a field herper for 40 years, published an international herp magazine in the '90's, and i'm also a published herpetologist and mammalogist in the peer reviewed scientific literature. I have both Kauffeld's marvelous books, and have herped Okeetee on a number of occasions. (I'm also an ex-biker. ;) )

Kauffeld, I believe, was a complicated man. I too get appalled at, for instance, Kauffeld's trunks full of Diamondbacks. I suspect he was an "overcollector." In fact, I think he would have told you so himself. If so (and if not, let him serve as the example for those he inspired who most certainly were,) then what he did was not okay then, anymore than it would be now. History is not a series of unrelated snapshots, as convenient as that would be, it is a continuum. Cause and effect. What Kauffeld did then is relevant today, as we need to learn from him. Even more relevant in fact, as there are now almost 7 billion of us on this planet. His influence was large, and he did a lot of harm. I can tell you that the proprietors of Okeetee whom i got to know did not appreciate his influence, and clearly felt he and his followers had had a real negative impact on the ecosystem there.

He also did some good, in inspiring people to appreciate nature in general. His books gave a lot of people joy. His old friends told me he was deeply sorry, deeply regretful, for what he recognized as the very considerable, and unanticipated, negative effect he had. (As was Einstein for splitting the atom. Is that also irrelevant for being done decades ago?) Like many who do harm, it took that harm for him to see the need for doing good. (For instance, the earliest champions of crocodile conservation in Australia were the very men who had hunted them to the point of crisis.) Wouldn't it be better, though, if we could avoid the doing harm part? We can't afford the luxury anymore at our current population. Kauffeld became a staunch voice for conservation, and if he could contribute to this forum, do you really think he would be saying, "That was then and this is now. It's not relevant. Get out and herp and don't worry about this other tiresome shit, it'll only alienate people." Hardly.

Characteristic of today's culture is a desire to shirk accountability and "just do the fun shit." But there is a political side to everything we do, necessarily, including field herping, and it is our obligation as adults in a democracy to be politically involved on all levels that reflect our interests, as well as just enjoying the "fun stuff." Our forefathers would be disgusted at our distaste for political engagement, and consider us as so many grown children who have failed to "get it." So it is good that you have questioned this, and good that it is being discussed on this forum. Those who have no taste for these things needn't go away from this forum - they can just click on another, more interesting thread and be done with the nuisance of deeper questions, or worse, questioning their own actions. It's so wonderfully easy to avoid engagement in deeper issues today - yippeeee! :thumb:

I am an advocate of field herping, and still a very low-level collector even. But i remain keenly aware of my own known and suspected impacts. I won't let myself off the hook (pardon the pun). So my advice is this: enjoy Kauffeld's books as I still do, acknowledge the bad as well as the good in what he did. Get out in the field and herp, is there anything better?!!! Never divulge your best spots, the secret ones only you know of - to anyone if possible, and not for the sake of science, either. (You may trust a friend, but do your trust their friends?) Learn from history. Learn from Karl, especially from his mistakes - this would please him most, i'd bet, make him most proud of his contribution. If we all could have done that - learned from history on all levels - we'd be in a hell of a lot better shape today.

Also, check out the dialogue under the thread about "spots being pounded."

scott s
Posts: 144
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 4:36 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by scott s » September 10th, 2010, 8:51 am

In addition to his 2 famous books, Kauffeld also helped write.........

Book Description:

Snakes and Their Ways is a reprint of the classic 1937 edition by Carl Kauffeld and C.H. Curran. Presented in narrative format, the book deals with the appearance, habitats, and habits of snakes. Each chapter presents both fact and fiction, dispelling many of the misconceptions of folklore, religion, and mythology. In a perspective novel for its time, the authors recognize the ecological (and economic) importance of snakes. The book contains 62 illustrations. Chapters on snake stories and snakes in history and religion make this a must for the shelves of anyone interested in herpetology.

User avatar
ACK!
Posts: 61
Joined: July 10th, 2010, 6:38 am
Location: The Red Planet

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by ACK! » September 10th, 2010, 9:33 am

Kauffeld collected for science and education/display- he didn't agree with people maintaining private collections.

In later years, he expressed much grief over how areas he had written about were being worked-over by collectors.

RobK

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by RobK » September 10th, 2010, 9:40 am

scott s wrote:Catch and release is basically a religion that appears to make the releasers feel better about themselves. but let's not over glamorize the saintliness of catch and release.
I couldn't agree more! :thumb:

Anyone want to go field herping with me? :mrgreen:

User avatar
Sam Sweet
Posts: 233
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:49 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Sam Sweet » September 10th, 2010, 10:24 am

I suspect that people who knew Kauffeld well would agree that he was a complicated person, and there are many stories. He was not, for example, Roger Conant, who replied promptly, courteously and often at length to questions from kids, usually emphasizing the value of field observations and the importance of caring for a few wild-caught animals well, if you collected any at all.

That wasn't Kauffeld's way, but he was also the guy who noticed the 10 year old kid plastered onto the glass of every cage and took him around backstage for a couple of hours, gave him a signed copy of The Book (then just published), and on top of that sent him home with a newly-hatched pine snake. I appreciated all that too.

The enthusiasm can be redirected, but first you gotta have it.

Aaron
Posts: 287
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:46 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Aaron » September 10th, 2010, 11:23 am

People's opinions and practices do change. I think it is very common for people to go from posting everything they can anytime they want, to posting less of their finds and including less details on the stuff they do post.

The so called precautionary principle preaching attitude, may not change peoples opinions right away but it cerainly can open people's minds to where they're having it to where it's like they are seeing things in a new light and look for or notice things that either support or refute their own previous perceptions and/or opinions.

I know when I was first shown how to find zonata I thought gee these things are common, there's no way anyone can harm them. And I wanted to post everything I found. I still don't see any way a population could actually be wiped out by collecters but at the same time I have seen how the overall herping experiance at any particular area can go way down once that locality gets well known by over eager, uncaring or just plain sheer numbers of herpers. Evidently Kauffeld went through a similar thing because later editions of his book contain a perface he wrote that exressed his regrets at publishing such specific details.

Lloyd Heilbrunn
Posts: 282
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:15 pm
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Fl

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Lloyd Heilbrunn » September 10th, 2010, 12:41 pm

I need to start a thread called the Ditmars Dilemma..... :P

User avatar
Mike Pingleton
Posts: 1472
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
Location: One of the boys from Illinois
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Mike Pingleton » September 10th, 2010, 12:52 pm

Kauffeld's books are artifacts from a long-lost era where there was no internet, no herp mags, and precious few field herping accounts. Small wonder so many people were gaga over those books (including me) - there just wasn't much on the subject. He was the right guy at the right time. Herping god? Nah.

When those books were published, issues like habitat loss, biodiversity, and climate change were either off most people's radar, or they didn't exist. Herpetoculture didn't even have a name. It was a different time, yeah.

Today when I re-read his books with a more critical eye, his prose is stiff and formal in places, and parts of The Keeper and the Kept seem to be composed of scattered notes that hint at bigger, better stories that could be told. Even so, his excitement and enthusiasm are genuine, and still shine. I wonder what Mister K would think of FHF and the state of things today?

-Mike

MarriedHerper
Posts: 23
Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 9:18 am
Location: Northern Illinois

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by MarriedHerper » September 10th, 2010, 1:10 pm

I have not (yet) read any of Kauffeld's books, but I do have the following to say:

I agree with most of the people that have posted comments such as "it was a different time". It is true, the climate and culture in which we now live is a lot more precarious, and there are fewer and fewer trustworthy people that are merely happy to let wild animals be. On the inverse, I think there are more of us "herp enthusiasts" out there that are educated or experienced in the ways of wilderness conservation, and I think more of the general public is aware that species decline is a serious issue. Having said that, I believe it is prudent to invoke the children's book that inspired me when I was 8, "A Snake Lover's Diary" by Barbara Brenner. In this book, the child indeed goes out herp hunting for the purpose of collecting, but the difference is that after the summer is mostly over, she releases all the animals she collected.

I think our purpose is not so much the questioning of the ways that happend before us, but more so the advancement of the healthiest and best practices that we can employ, within the boundaries of the intent of our obsession. Namely, we should practice our hobby/careers with as much respect for the wildlife that we can. The most respect we could have would entail leaving them entirely alone, so this is out of the question.

"Try to be helpful. If you fail to do so, at least be harmless"

My two cents.

Loren

User avatar
kyle loucks
Posts: 3148
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 12:40 am
Location: Pennsylvania- Bucks Co. near Phila.

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by kyle loucks » September 10th, 2010, 1:42 pm

Many a herper has started with this book... including me..
Image

Bygone eras-
ImageImage
then Bartlett and now...


Hubbs- cue corny music.

User avatar
Brian Hubbs
Posts: 4733
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:41 am
Location: "Buy My Books"-land

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Brian Hubbs » September 10th, 2010, 3:32 pm

Not much to add except a question...what has changed at the spots Kauffeld popularized, except for destruction of some of the habitat, and Okeetee refusing entrance to herpers now...?

I'll answer the question myself...Mostly NOTHING. If the spot still exists, and the animals are still there because the habitat has not undergone some radical change...they are still there in the numbers Kauffeld reported (and sometimes even better numbers due to our increased awareness of where the dang things like to hang out). This statement applies to all of the AZ areas he spoke of...as well as the Pine Barrens and Big Bend locations. The only one I know of that has been destroyed is Payne's Prairie. Good luck finding a king there now...the terrain is vastly different than it was in the 1930s and 40s. The new Payne's Prairie counterpart is the Okeechobee sugar cane canals...

I cannot comment on the NY swamp where he found massasaugas as I have never been there. I don't know if the saugas are less common now or not...

As for the overcollecting...Kauffeld mostly collected rattlers...and most were rattlers that landowners would have killed anyway...He did take a few of other species for the zoo, but those were species that were easily found and very numerous. I love how he described the Barrens as a tough place to find reptiles...even in the 1930s. It is a much easier place now, but people like the NJ Wildlife Division (or whatever it's called) and the NE chapter group don't want anyone to know this. They fear that too many herpers will wipe everything out...Really? In sand? If that were possible, it would have happened a long time ago...

So, I guess my answer is that Kauffeld really hurt nothing...but did produce a lot of reptile enthusiasts...

User avatar
Kent VanSooy
Posts: 1100
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:51 am
Location: Oceanside

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Kent VanSooy » September 10th, 2010, 3:51 pm

So, I guess my answer is that Kauffeld really hurt nothing...but did produce a lot of reptile enthusiasts...
Bitter irony, Mr. Hubbs ??

User avatar
Brian Hubbs
Posts: 4733
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:41 am
Location: "Buy My Books"-land

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Brian Hubbs » September 10th, 2010, 4:08 pm

I'm not sure I understand the question...what is your point (in plain English) Kent? Are you agreeing with me, or was that a little couched sarcasm...? :D

User avatar
Don
Posts: 374
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:36 am
Location: Sunny Myrtle Beach

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Don » September 10th, 2010, 4:16 pm

I'm one of those guys who wish that CK could have been a little less specific about his huntng grounds, and I imagine he reconsidered after the fact about Okeetee, and the Animas mtns were plundered so heavily. But he was one of the best at what he did. He built a fine herp exhibit and acquired and maintained as many sp and ssp of rattlesnakes as he possibly could. Guys I know are proud to have walked the field with him. I wish I could have been one of them.

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by muskiemagnet » September 10th, 2010, 6:21 pm

conservation. indeed it wasn't much of a concern to many in kauffelds day. there were some though.

i highly recommend "a sand county almanac" by aldo leopold.

great read if you haven't yet.

ben

bobassetto
Posts: 733
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by bobassetto » September 10th, 2010, 6:29 pm

ha.....when i posted about these books......somekatz really tossed a hissy-fit!!!!!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Lloyd Heilbrunn
Posts: 282
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:15 pm
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Fl

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Lloyd Heilbrunn » September 10th, 2010, 6:45 pm

Brian Hubbs wrote:Not much to add except a question...what has changed at the spots Kauffeld popularized, except for destruction of some of the habitat, and Okeetee refusing entrance to herpers now...?

I'll answer the question myself...Mostly NOTHING. If the spot still exists, and the animals are still there because the habitat has not undergone some radical change...they are still there in the numbers Kauffeld reported (and sometimes even better numbers due to our increased awareness of where the dang things like to hang out). This statement applies to all of the AZ areas he spoke of...as well as the Pine Barrens and Big Bend locations. The only one I know of that has been destroyed is Payne's Prairie. Good luck finding a king there now...the terrain is vastly different than it was in the 1930s and 40s. The new Payne's Prairie counterpart is the Okeechobee sugar cane canals...

I cannot comment on the NY swamp where he found massasaugas as I have never been there. I don't know if the saugas are less common now or not...

As for the overcollecting...Kauffeld mostly collected rattlers...and most were rattlers that landowners would have killed anyway...He did take a few of other species for the zoo, but those were species that were easily found and very numerous. I love how he described the Barrens as a tough place to find reptiles...even in the 1930s. It is a much easier place now, but people like the NJ Wildlife Division (or whatever it's called) and the NE chapter group don't want anyone to know this. They fear that too many herpers will wipe everything out...Really? In sand? If that were possible, it would have happened a long time ago...

So, I guess my answer is that Kauffeld really hurt nothing...but did produce a lot of reptile enthusiasts...

A couple of years ago I followed the directions in his Okeechobee chapter and 50 years later could see the
area he caught a big EDB. It was now a farm and fenced off but that sure as Hell wasn't his fault.

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2293
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by gbin » September 10th, 2010, 7:19 pm

gulo wrote:He also did some good, in inspiring people to appreciate nature in general...
I daresay.

Once upon a time I was appointed to head the Earth Day Celebration committee for a large public institution. We agreed to have a keynote speaker kick off the event the night before Earth Day, and I pushed hard for a local celebrity, a fellow who had not only done wildlife and wildlands an awful lot of good over the years (and he's still at it now, many years later), but was also a very charismatic writer, speaker and even television personality. He was sure to be a big draw, and to get people excited about the event and hopefully also conservation. But the rest of the committee flatly voted me down. Why? Because he was (and still is) an avid hunter and fisherman, and they couldn't possibly understand how he could also be a conservationist. I'm sorry, but that's just nuts.

The "less harmful than thou" nonsense has long kept a lot of people from becoming better conservationists, or even conservationists at all. It's even encouraged more than a few people to become outright anti-conservation (which is also nuts). How about we let a few more people into the tent?

Especially when the people we're excluding have done no demonstrable harm (i.e. to populations or their habitats)?...

Kauffeld was no god, but so far as people go he did a heck of a lot to promote interest in wildlife (especially herps) and wildlands, and their conservation. He certainly belongs in the tent, then and now, and it seems to me that anyone who asserts otherwise is really more interested in promoting his/her own "purity" than in furthering his/her purported cause.

Here's what I think:

People in general like to do what's easy. Actually fighting against unwise land development, for appropriate environmental regulations, etc. is awfully hard. One has to get thoroughly educated on the subject at hand and then go out and act on that education, speaking out at public meetings, working petitions, wrangling meetings with politicians, etc. But "purifying" one's own practices and then endlessly preaching about it, even when wildlife and wild lands enjoy no real benefit from it, well that's incredibly easy by comparison. Feels good, too, if one can fool him/herself into believing that his/her perceptions are reality. "No, I didn't go to that town council meeting about the new road enlargement under consideration. I doubt I could have done any good there, anyway; the game is fixed, you know, and ordinary people like us can't do anything about it. I was out of town herping, instead. But hey, I didn't pester that gravid female snake like some other herpers would have, and you just know that would have harmed her and her unborn offspring. And these days every snake counts, after all!"

Along with letting a few more people into the tent, how about we also consider employing some more meaningful priorities in our own lives and in what we espouse to others?

Gerry

P.S. Nice to hear from you, John! Things going well these days?

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2293
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by gbin » September 11th, 2010, 6:47 am

DFRetes wrote:When K was in NM and Az. his guide was a good friend of mine...
A commonly used expression in sports is "It ain't over until the fat lady sings." In FieldHerpForum threads, it might instead be "It ain't over until Pecos Frank tells a Tall Tale about it."

Now that we've all been set straight on everything :roll: , is this pointless thread finally done?

Gerry

User avatar
Daryl Eby
Posts: 963
Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Daryl Eby » September 11th, 2010, 6:50 am

DFRetes wrote:I would love to see any of you take a wagon across the states to find herps.
Would that be considered road cruising? I suppose you could mount rail road lanterns on the horses heads. :lol:
Specially when you had native americans throwing sticks at you.
Hmmm, that would complicate things a little. :shock:

User avatar
Daryl Eby
Posts: 963
Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Daryl Eby » September 11th, 2010, 7:08 am

gbin wrote:... is this pointless thread finally done?
Not likely! Actually, I'm finding this thread very interesting. I doubt it will lead to any profound revelations or result in any broad consensus. However, it is giving me (and hopefully others) a chance to re-examine my current opinions from a somewhat different perspective. We will NEVER all agree on the "correct" approach to conservation minded herping. Simply thinking about our potential impacts will ultimately lead to increased sensitivity and improved behavior. Your points about becoming involved in the broader civic issues (very challenging for a hermit like me) and about finding shared interests (i.e. hunters and environmentalists working together) are very important. I don't recall the last time those issues were raised on FHF. They may not have been at all if not for "this pointless thread".

User avatar
monklet
Posts: 2648
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Location: Ventura, CA
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by monklet » September 11th, 2010, 7:48 am

Daryl Eby wrote:
gbin wrote:... is this pointless thread finally done?
Not likely! Actually, I'm finding this thread very interesting. I doubt it will lead to any profound revelations or result in any broad consensus. However, it is giving me (and hopefully others) a chance to re-examine my current opinions from a somewhat different perspective. We will NEVER all agree on the "correct" approach to conservation minded herping. Simply thinking about our potential impacts will ultimately lead to increased sensitivity and improved behavior. Your points about becoming involved in the broader civic issues (very challenging for a hermit like me) and about finding shared interests (i.e. hunters and environmentalists working together) are very important. I don't recall the last time those issues were raised on FHF. They may not have been at all if not for "this pointless thread".
Hallelujah :beer:

stlouisdude
Posts: 412
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:30 pm
Location: St Louis, MO / Hartford, CT

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by stlouisdude » September 11th, 2010, 8:35 am

(Caution: Just humoring myself here, please feel free to ignore my ranbling).
I knew Hubbs was up to something with his book sales. I bet he is using that to finance his secret plan to become dictator of the world and turn all of earth into a kingsnake factory. Some people might still herp by wagon, who knows, I mean there could be Amish herpers. I haven't had any Native throwing sticks at me, but I'm pretty sure some herpers still encounter armed criminals at times. In fact, many feel the need to be armed at all times due to this threat.

User avatar
M Wolverton
Posts: 424
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:46 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by M Wolverton » September 11th, 2010, 8:49 am

I don't look to Kauffield as any sort of "herping god." I just like reading his books. If you'll notice, he didn't really find much.

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by muskiemagnet » September 11th, 2010, 8:57 am

i do believe that conservation is paramount in saving many species. i myself want to save the sensitive/specialized. these in my opinion are the most precious.

what about a hundred years from now? what happens if, in order to save a species, no one would be allowed to enjoy them.

right now is a great time for herpers to come together and talk about conservation. unfortunately flipping debris is habitat destruction. shifting rocks as you walk isi habitat destruction. let's face it, we do impact the environment that herps live in. what's harmful? opinion. i think herps are a bit more resilient than some may think. do your best to make as little impact as possible. doing it in a manner respectful of nature is what needs to be talked about.

i agree this thread is a good thing. i like to hear what people have to say about this topic.

gulo
Posts: 27
Joined: September 5th, 2010, 9:35 am

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by gulo » September 11th, 2010, 8:59 am

Brian Hubbs wrote:Not much to add except a question...what has changed at the spots Kauffeld popularized, except for destruction of some of the habitat, and Okeetee refusing entrance to herpers now...?

I'll answer the question myself...Mostly NOTHING. If the spot still exists, and the animals are still there because the habitat has not undergone some radical change...they are still there in the numbers Kauffeld reported (and sometimes even better numbers due to our increased awareness of where the dang things like to hang out). This statement applies to all of the AZ areas he spoke of...as well as the Pine Barrens and Big Bend locations. The only one I know of that has been destroyed is Payne's Prairie. Good luck finding a king there now...the terrain is vastly different than it was in the 1930s and 40s. The new Payne's Prairie counterpart is the Okeechobee sugar cane canals...

I cannot comment on the NY swamp where he found massasaugas as I have never been there. I don't know if the saugas are less common now or not...

As for the overcollecting...Kauffeld mostly collected rattlers...and most were rattlers that landowners would have killed anyway...He did take a few of other species for the zoo, but those were species that were easily found and very numerous. I love how he described the Barrens as a tough place to find reptiles...even in the 1930s. It is a much easier place now, but people like the NJ Wildlife Division (or whatever it's called) and the NE chapter group don't want anyone to know this. They fear that too many herpers will wipe everything out...Really? In sand? If that were possible, it would have happened a long time ago...

So, I guess my answer is that Kauffeld really hurt nothing...but did produce a lot of reptile enthusiasts...
Kauffeld produced enough reptile enthusiasts, in fact, that according to what the proprietors told me, Okeetee was host to entire busloads of them for a spell (literally), replete with tongs and collecting bags.

Their version, as the men on the ground, is a different one from "he really hurt nothing."

I can show you plenty of spots from my own herping history that still exist, where the habitat has not undergone any radical (visible) change, where the snakes have not only gone from abundance to scarcity, but in more than a few cases have utterly vanished - gone completely. It is a dangerous assumption you are making here.

You know, i am new to this forum, and I find it really alarming how pervasive the attitude on here is that "we" (and i am not singling out any one in particular, but rather the people who recreate more or less invasively in nature) not only have done no harm, but cannot do any harm.

I went to the rattlesnake roundup in Claxton one year. One old geezer, when i suggested they might be negatively impacting the rattlesnkes told me, "We could never put a dent in the numbers of rattlesnakes." From him, I expect this kind of attitude. I couldn't help thinking, however, how many times in written history we have adopted this attitude and been dead wrong. The passenger pigeon, the bison, in recent times the cod. There are many more examples.

I am not picking on Kauffeld nor herpers for the sake of picking on anyone nor to say that overall we've done harm or no - obviously, I don't know - all i am saying is we need to be careful and not assume omnipotence merely because our motives are pure. Historical precedent is not on the side of such cavalier attitudes towards anything in nature.

With that in mind, yes, get out there and be a part of nature.

User avatar
canderson
Posts: 42
Joined: June 16th, 2010, 5:25 pm
Location: The Land of Enchantment, NM

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by canderson » September 11th, 2010, 9:37 am

I too think this thread has been fascinating, and useful. Look at how many couldn't resist reading a thread with a title that included Kauffeld's name? To say Kauffeld wasn't a god and was like us is simply not true. Kauffeld has long since died, and yet many of us will never forget his stories. We read and re-read these books which we've searched so hard to find, just to remove ourselves back to a time we would have loved to have lived in. Through his books we are able to imagine ourselves there among him and his friends herping for what seems like a lifetime. He was NOT like many of us, as when most of us our dead and gone we will not be the subject of discussion by complete strangers some 40 years later. And aside from Hubbs no one will be reading our books and memoirs (my apologies if there are other authors out there :) ). I don't think it's fair to belittle the contributions he made which helped and continues to help inspire generations of nature lovers/herpers/conservationists. Any of us in this group who have not read his books would do well to find a copy or borrow one from a friend (if they'll let you, you might have to read it at their house) and be entertained. When I was a kid I couldn't believe such books even existed as I was always made to feel like a freak because I liked snakes and spent the majority of my time during the warmer season looking for them. These books were proof to me that my brother and I weren't the only ones! :D

So among human folk of the herper variety Kauffeld, Conant, Degenhardt, Smith, Wright & Wright, Pope and Ditmars are those that I look up to and are Gods in as much as Gods do exist within any discipline of study.


By the way, this summer I found a copy of The Keeper & the Kept in a used bookstore in western Massachusetts for $3!!!! :o I felt like a thief as they rung me up! It's in very good condition also. Cheers all! :beer:

User avatar
Mike Pingleton
Posts: 1472
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
Location: One of the boys from Illinois
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Mike Pingleton » September 11th, 2010, 12:07 pm

Good points made without pointing at anyone.... :thumb:
Daryl Eby wrote:
Not likely! Actually, I'm finding this thread very interesting. I doubt it will lead to any profound revelations or result in any broad consensus. However, it is giving me (and hopefully others) a chance to re-examine my current opinions from a somewhat different perspective. We will NEVER all agree on the "correct" approach to conservation minded herping. Simply thinking about our potential impacts will ultimately lead to increased sensitivity and improved behavior. Your points about becoming involved in the broader civic issues (very challenging for a hermit like me) and about finding shared interests (i.e. hunters and environmentalists working together) are very important. I don't recall the last time those issues were raised on FHF. They may not have been at all if not for "this pointless thread".

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2293
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by gbin » September 11th, 2010, 12:08 pm

All right, I may not be getting anything but irritation out of this discussion, but if others are actually finding it useful then so be it.

You didn't quite catch something very relevant that I was talking about, though, Daryl...
Daryl Eby wrote:... hunters and environmentalists working together...
Many people are both hunters and environmentalists. What I'm talking about is recognizing that fact. That fellow over there doesn't have to share each and every one of my particular sensitivities nor act in every circumstance as I would in order for him to be a conservationist. What matters is that we both care about wildlife and wild lands, that we act on our caring, and that we have sufficient understanding of the real issues and their priority that the way we act actually has some beneficial effect. And on that last point, simply believing and declaring that what one does is good for conservation (and what another does is bad for conservation) doesn't make it so; objective evidence and interpretation (yes, science) is the best judge, and individual perception just may be the worst.
gulo wrote:I can show you plenty of spots from my own herping history that still exist, where the habitat has not undergone any radical (visible) change, where the snakes have not only gone from abundance to scarcity, but in more than a few cases have utterly vanished - gone completely. It is a dangerous assumption you are making here.
I'm finding it increasingly hilarious when you talk about other people making assumptions, gulo. You see fewer herps somewhere and can't see any obvious change to the habitat, so you assume with great confidence that it's because the animals have disappeared due to direct disturbance or collection. I and a number of others here recognize that you may be right, but that you're also discarding any serious consideration of alternative explanations that seem equally or even more plausible. And we're the ones making assumptions? :roll: And of course, let's not forget that if we argue against or even just question your stance, we - who you don't know in the slightest - must be doing so just to defend our dirty practices. :roll:

Gerry

stlouisdude
Posts: 412
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:30 pm
Location: St Louis, MO / Hartford, CT

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by stlouisdude » September 11th, 2010, 12:24 pm

Be sure to check out these great titles too

Snakes in suits : when psychopaths go to work by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare.

Don't sleep, there are snakes : life and language in the Amazonian jungle by Daniel L. Everett.

Death adders : super deadly! / by Nancy White.

Quick-Fix Cooking with Roadkill By Buck Peterson

User avatar
Daryl Eby
Posts: 963
Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Daryl Eby » September 11th, 2010, 12:36 pm

gbin wrote:You didn't quite catch something very relevant that I was talking about, though, Daryl...
Daryl Eby wrote:... hunters and environmentalists working together...
Many people are both hunters and environmentalists. What I'm talking about is recognizing that fact. That fellow over there doesn't have to share each and every one of my particular sensitivities nor act in every circumstance as I would in order for him to be a conservationist. What matters is that we both care about wildlife and wild lands, that we act on our caring, and that we have sufficient understanding of the real issues and their priority that the way we act actually has some beneficial effect. And on that last point, simply believing and declaring that what one does is good for conservation (and what another does is bad for conservation) doesn't make it so; objective evidence and interpretation (yes, science) is the best judge, and individual perception just may be the worst.
I got your point the first time and agree heartily, I just shorthanded poorly in my parenthetical. However, I'm glad my poor phrasing prompted you to restate and further elaborate on it. 8-) I have long felt that Duck Hunters Unlimited are severely shortchanged by some environmentalists groups. Sure, they shoot a few ducks, but they protect, preserve, and restore habitat for several thousand (millions?) ducks and other critters.

Along the same lines, I know of a couple of "evil" oil men that have used their oil income to restore tens of thousands of acres that were formerly overgrazed by cattle. Despite sacrificing the cattle income and spending huge sums on habitat restoration, many environmental purists can't get past the sight of a few small Pumpjacks long enough to acknowledge the environmental efforts of the oilmen.

Several years ago, the Fort Worth Zoo opened a huge "Texas" exhibit that featured Texas wildlife. Among the many fantastic exhibits were several information displays talking about the environmental efforts of many Texas ranchers, oilmen, and hunting/fishing groups to protect and restore Texas wild lands. I was told that when they opened they received lots of complaints from environmental groups. Apparently lots of environmental purists were offended that such people would be portrayed as anything other than pariahs. While the purists were busy writing letters, the "pariahs" were writing checks to protect habitat. I haven't been to that zoo in many years. Hopefully those displays are still there.

User avatar
VanAR
Posts: 590
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:36 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by VanAR » September 11th, 2010, 12:58 pm

Like many idealists, the most ardent environmentalists are often handicapped by an inability to tolerate differences of opinion. Much of this, IMO, stems from environmentalists having a philosophy that the ends cannot justify the means, and so hunters are part of the problem rather than the solution. For their part, there are many hunters who do not actually care about conservation (see any place where people dump poached deer carcasses, for example). Despite the apparent moral objections, sometimes the ends do justify the means- you just have to be careful about what means you allow.

Its not a new phenomenon- it has gone back more than a century to the bickering between preservationists like John Muir and conservationists like Gifford Pinchot. Both of these philosophies are beneficial and necessary, but it is exceedingly frustrating to see that people with similar values/interests in nature cannot reach a common ground.

Van

User avatar
Daryl Eby
Posts: 963
Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Daryl Eby » September 11th, 2010, 1:03 pm

VanAR wrote:preservationists like John Muir and conservationists like Gifford Pinchot
Great, now I have to spend an hour or two on Google and edumacate myself.

User avatar
VanAR
Posts: 590
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:36 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by VanAR » September 11th, 2010, 1:13 pm

While you're at it, look up the differences between transcendentalism and utilitarianism, because those philosophies basically underly the goals of preservation and conservation, respectively. Muir espoused the transcendental qualities of nature, and referred to parks and other preserves as places for rest, inspiration, and prayer. Gifford espoused the utilitarian qualities- that nature provides the tools and materials necessary for society, and must thus be managed sustainably to ensure continued use and survival of mankind. Both opposed over-exploitation, but for different reasons.

Arguably, both reasons could be considered "selfish" as both philosophies "use" the environment. Neither preservation nor conservation are necessarily movements to protect nature, per se. Rather, they are both movements to protect our ability to use and enjoy nature. Note that this is just a cynical aside aimed at those advocating that any manipulation of snakes is done solely for "selfish" reasons with no regard for the snake.

Interestingly, most biologists I've met are utilitarian. The ones that are transcendentalist generally gravitate to education rather than research because of the manipulation inherently necessary for good science. OTOH, the most vocal environmentalists are usually transcendentalist, and oppose utilitarianism, again as "the ends justifying the means".

Van

User avatar
Daryl Eby
Posts: 963
Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Daryl Eby » September 11th, 2010, 1:20 pm

VanAR wrote:While you're at it, look up the differences between transcendentalism and utilitarianism
Great. More homework. Will this be on the test?

User avatar
VanAR
Posts: 590
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:36 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by VanAR » September 11th, 2010, 1:23 pm

Absolutely :beer:

User avatar
Daryl Eby
Posts: 963
Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Contact:

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by Daryl Eby » September 11th, 2010, 3:48 pm

Wow. No other posts on FHF for nearly 2 1/2 hours. Guess I'm not the only one reading up on Muir, Gifford, transcendentalism, and utilitarianism. My head hurts. Hope the test is open book.

chad ks
Posts: 632
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:31 pm

Re: The Kauffeld Conundrum

Post by chad ks » September 11th, 2010, 3:58 pm

gbin wrote:
DFRetes wrote:When K was in NM and Az. his guide was a good friend of mine...
A commonly used expression in sports is "It ain't over until the fat lady sings." In FieldHerpForum threads, it might instead be "It ain't over until Pecos Frank tells a Tall Tale about it."

Now that we've all been set straight on everything :roll: , is this pointless thread finally done?

Gerry
Gerry,

This post was completely unnecessary and I would appreciate it if you would omit this type of antagonism when posting on FHF in the future. I enjoyed Frank's contribution in this thread, which was no less necessary or valuable than any of yours. In fact his post was monumentally more meaningful than that ^^^.

Post Reply