You're in the animal trade business, from what I understand. As I have stated before, I have no profound conflict with that sector. I think that due to your business your perspective is much more internationally- and federally-focused than mine. I am more state-focused, as that is the principal level of my "business". It also happens to be the level at which field herpers
(as opposed to traders) are going to be most affected by any presence or lack of herp regs. Keepers are affected by all levels, but I would hazard to guess that they are more affected by state and local laws, than federal or international ones.
What facilitates (not causes, but passively helps) dumb herp regs get created and to persist is the failure of herpers to show up. It works exactly the same way with traditional game animals. The animal welfare folks would gladly end hunting, but the hunters have learned how to "show up", and they do it. It doesn't take money. It just takes some time, and some attention, and some class or restraint.
Again you do not know what you are talking about. Traditional game animals = mainstream = more people = more money = a lot more push back. And they have giant organization's with a strong cash flow to fight for them. Then there's the number of business's, some very large involved with hunting and fishing and all the money and livelihood's involved with that. There are huge revenue implications for states that support hunting and fishing, That money drives state and federal wildlife agencies. They are not going to give that up.
Perhaps - as I outlined above - we are focused on different things; perhaps we are talking past each other. But I assure you, I know some things. And I think your statement is an example of a little knowledge, a lot of assumption, and a big mouth combining in a corrosive stew. (Perhaps you will now accuse me
of projecting; the irony is not lost on me, it's quite funny actually. But I really do try to not be a jerk
. And I try to be intellectually honest, as well as to not act like a bully. It would be great
if you could try that too.) Anyway, let me explain what I mean. You assume myriad things: that "traditional game animals" can be considered monolithically, and that hunters want to interact with them in the same ways, and that internal interests, pressure and dynamics within agencies are all well-aligned, and that all "sportsmen's" business interests are well-aligned.
Let me provide an example illustrating the imperfection (big, big imperfection) of such assumptions. Consider the case of bighorn sheep on the one hand, and mountain lions on the other, in the intermountain western USA. First, understand that both were pretty much wiped out - let's call it extirpated from most of their historic distributions, and depleted in most of the remaining inhabited distributions, as recently as the end of the 1960s. Agencies - almost entirely the state ones - worked with hunter organizations (e.g., the Wild Sheep Foundation) to manage both species back to the point where - by the 1980's - there were some modest opportunities to hunt both species in (I believe) all states in the intermountain western USA. Now the opportunities are much greater. There's still plenty of room for improvement, but also plenty of constraints. We may not actually get much improvement in opportunities, for diverse reasons. Anyway, here are some salient facts about bighorn and cougar hunters, managers, and interactions with business interests:
- Lots of people want to hunt bighorns. There are not enough lambs born, and recruited into adulthood, to support many opportunities for people to remove them from the population. Bighorn tags therefore sell for big dollars in most states (a few states still just have a lottery that's cheap to enter, with terrible odds). In most places - regardless of tag price - these sheep are considered "once in a lifetime" animals. Some normal Joes get to hunt bighorns, but in uncomfortable, lamentable fact, it is pretty much a rich guy's sport. Yes, money plays a significant oand increasing role in wildlife management. IMO our revenue model ("user pays", not "everybody pays") sucks, if you are interested in equality of opportunity.
- Not many people want to hunt
mtn lions; trapping
, a different beast entirely, is almost extinct due to lack of interest mainly. To hunt them, realistically you either need to own your own pack of hounds, or hire a guide with a pack. The demand for lions is low, relative to the supply. So, lion tags are cheap. Normal Joes are the main guys hunting mtn lions. Well, they aren't "normal" per se - they are more like herpers, really. They love what they are into, man oh man. But they are not
, in the main, wealthy and they do not have a powerful foundation or lobbying group like the deer, elk, duck, sheep, etc guys.
- Lions eat sheep. Remember what I said about how many lambs are born, and become adults. Bighorn hunters often would like to see liberalization of lion hunting (more lions killed). Lion hunters want to see more lions when they go hunting them - which means they want fewer lions killed. Get it? Conflicting interests.
- Inside the agencies, I cannot name a single one where it's the same program managing both lions and sheep. Different programs equals different budgets and different staff. And as I mentioned already, different stakeholders clamoring for attention and action from the managers. Get it? Unaligned interests.
- Outside the agencies, livestock operators are a powerful force. They pressure the agencies to keep wildlife numbers low - whether it's wildlife that compete with domestic cattle or sheep for forage or space (bighorn...), or that predate domestic stock (lions...). However, hunters also exert their pressures, counterbalancing the stockmen somewhat.
- The agencies in effect protect the minorities - they (partially) protect the lion hunters from the sheep hunters, and they (partially) protect all the hunters from the livestock guys. Of course it's a balancing act, and in the big picture of internal (executive-branch) state politics the wildlife agencies are pretty small potatoes - nothing like ag.
- The stakeholders protect the wildlife agencies in external (legislative and county commission) state politics. Politicians have to be (partially) responsive to their constituents. There are WAY more people who hunt, than there are people who raise livestock. There's a lot of money in both - as a whole. But look at the lions again - there is no money in that. Nobody does it, and the tags are dirt cheap.[/list]
This is why I keep insisting that field herpers need to understand other hunters, how those people interact with the agencies etc. And they need to stop squabbling enough to get organized and present some semblance of an organization - enough to pursue their shared interests (1 - access to the resource, and 2 - perpetual viability of the resource). Those interests are perfectly aligned with the agencies'.
As for your "injurious rule" item - what you're referring to is this: https://www.fws.gov/injuriouswildlife/salamanders.html
. Yeah, sure - that was rushed through at the federal level because of concerns about a European salamander fungal disease either 1) not yet having arrived here, being imported into the US, or 2) already having been imported into the US unbeknownst to us all, and getting spread around the states. I don't manage herps - or any species - directly; I'm a habitat guy. I heard about this rule in a news release. I have since sat in on (observer, not participant) some interagency conversations about it.
- Is the regulation perfect? I believe not - far from it.
- Was it the best tool available at that point in time? I'm not sure, I honestly do not know. My reaction when I first heard was a mix of heartburn and understanding. It still is. The injurious listing was a tool that was available quickly
. Fast rarely equals good. Almost never best. Sometimes not even good enough.
- Is there actually a credible threat to American salamanders posed by this disease? Susceptibility and damage varies by family, but yes - there is ABSOLUTELY a credible threat to American salamanders. Let's just call it New World salamanders, actually.
- Does the FWS have a responsibility to avoid, minimize, or mitigate threats to US wildlife posed by such things as interstate (Lacey...) and international (injurious...) commerce? You bet your life. Is doing nothing an option? No way. Perhaps you do not accept this. That is as dumb as the liberals who say Trump is not their president. Sorry brothers and sisters, but he is.
- Is it all over? Not in the least. It's never over. The disease is out there still. But we can improve testing so that "clean" captive colonies can be certified, and legally traded in the future. Its very analogous to livestock trade regulations, certifications, testing etc all built around biosecurity regarding heartwater, screwworm, bovine Tb, etc.
- Will herpers regain their salamander-trade privileges by checking out? Not a chance in hell. Just like field herping for zonata or whatever. Show up or shut up. Showing up is not guaranteed to get you any or all of what you want, but not showing up is guaranteed to get you nothing. Pretty simple concept.