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 Post subject: Re: About boardlines, and ethics
PostPosted: October 24th, 2011, 11:36 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
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Location: Hesperia, California.
Retes wrote:
This is exactly why this site needs some friggin ethics. You guys can rationlize your way to heaven.

Boardlines are NOT NATURAL, they are put there by man. Therefore, they offer a choice that WAS NOT THERE BEFORE THEY WERE PLACED THERE. Before you place your boardlines the individual snakes were behaving naturally, that is, they were in the ground using holes close to the surface, rocks, bark, plant layers, to gain heat. NOT FLAT BOARDS or tin or rug. Those allow you the herper easy access to the herps, A ACCESS that is not natural and was not there before man put it there.

That you rationlize its natural is only you defending your approach. Period.


Ok Frank,
We'll put you down on the 'People are not part of the Natural World' side of the debate. Anyone care to respond? :) jim


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 Post subject: Re: About boardlines, and ethics
PostPosted: October 24th, 2011, 1:07 pm 
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Retes wrote:
So yes, Phil, boardlines are NOT NATURAL, therefore, snakes using them is unnatural. A point I tried to get across to you many years ago is, WHAT ARE THEY DOING WITHOUT THE BOARDS, Its what they do without them thats natural and teaches you about THOSE SPECIES. Not how they use a boardline.


I agree that board lines, tin fields, etc..are not natural. The snakes behavior however certainly is, and this is the constant. They still seek mates, reproduce, digest meals, gestate young and perform all manner of biological functions with or without the AC. I would speculate that the snakes themselves could care less whether they were setting up shop under a slab of flag stone or beneath a sheet of roofing tin so this discussion is less about the snakes themselves and more about peoples personal aesthetics. For sake of the present discussion however none of this is relevant. Anyone that is serious about finding snakes and learning more about them needs to be broad minded in their approach and willing to explore various methods. Style points are not given. I can sure appreciate the purist that enjoys taking long walks in the woods and is content with the occasional observation of herp activity, and there is nothing wrong with this. For those of us that are not content with random sightings there are other techniques that are more reliable for locating snakes. These methods can vary from season to season and from one region to the next. The deployment of AC is only one of these methods. Another is driving roads. Interestingly enough there are those among us that frown upon this technique and do not consider this "field herping". I'm not much into terms and its not important to me whether someone else likes or dislikes this method. What I do care about is finding more snakes and learning what they are doing, both when and where. Everything else is just window dressing. I know that you live in the desert Frank and that AC probably isn't quite as productive there as it is here. This may even make it easier for you to frown upon its use since it is of little importance where you reside. In the heat of the summer we often drive roads at night searching for snakes. We find lots of them by doing this including whats considered some of our rarer species. Do you ever drive roads at night in the desert Frank? Roads are very unnatural but snakes seem to cross them all the same. Would this be considered unethical to you?

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: About boardlines, and ethics
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 5:37 am 
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Phil Peak wrote:
Do you ever drive roads at night in the desert Frank? Roads are very unnatural but snakes seem to cross them all the same. Would this be considered unethical to you?

Phil


This does not seem like a relevant comparison to Frank’s claim. Frank’s claim is that placing AC for the purpose of attracting snakes is unethical because it causes them to alter their behavior. Driving roads at night doesn’t alter the snakes’ behavior; they would be slithering across the road whether or not you are driving by at that moment.

A slightly more relevant comparison would be creating roads for the purpose of attracting snakes. Even there you could argue that this essentially just exposes what the snakes were already doing, rather than altering their behavior. But since nobody (?) does that, it seems pointless to discuss.

I’m not sure what I think about the ethics of placing AC, but it seems like a reasonable discussion to have in the context of this thread.

John


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 7:39 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
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Frank's claim is that boardlines are man-made, and therefore not natural... thus unethical.
The boards themselves are neither good nor bad... if NEVER flipped... just an unusually flat piece of wood, out in nature, that herps find very suitable. If flipped regularly, to collect snakes... some would go so far as to call them 'traps'. If used to find herps, towards collecting data... a scientific tool.

The underlying philosophical question is... should ANYTHING man does, from building roads and cities and altering the environment (from boards to building Dams) be considered natural or un-natural?
It could even be argued that NOT using our given intelligence to increase our chances of locating herps (for whatever reason) would be un-natural. Your position on this underlying philosophical question will largely determine your opinion on the 'moral correctness' of employing boardlines, cruising roads, ect, right up to using google earth to scout herping spots.
Again... it's not 'what' is ethical or unethical... it's WHY. :D jim :D


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 Post subject: Re: About boardlines, and ethics
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 7:40 am 
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Ribbit wrote:
Phil Peak wrote:
Do you ever drive roads at night in the desert Frank? Roads are very unnatural but snakes seem to cross them all the same. Would this be considered unethical to you?

Phil


This does not seem like a relevant comparison to Frank’s claim. Frank’s claim is that placing AC for the purpose of attracting snakes is unethical because it causes them to alter their behavior. Driving roads at night doesn’t alter the snakes’ behavior; they would be slithering across the road whether or not you are driving by at that moment.

A slightly more relevant comparison would be creating roads for the purpose of attracting snakes. Even there you could argue that this essentially just exposes what the snakes were already doing, rather than altering their behavior. But since nobody (?) does that, it seems pointless to discuss.

I’m not sure what I think about the ethics of placing AC, but it seems like a reasonable discussion to have in the context of this thread.

John


Of course. The very notion that driving roads to search for snakes would be unethical is absurd and I used this analogy only to make a point. Like it or not, roads are a man made phenomena and not part of the natural landscape. For that matter, neither are agricultural fields, canals, impounded lakes and farm ponds, monocultured forests, fence rows or any number of human created situations. Does this mean that significant herpetological discoveries from these places don't count? I find it odd that someone would argue the point that AC is unethical because it is unnatural when its difficult to find a truly natural setting anywhere these days that has not been altered, manipulated or managed in some form or other by humans.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 8:06 am 
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Quote:
I find it odd that someone would argue the point that AC is unethical because it is unnatural when its difficult to find a truly natural setting anywhere these days that has not been altered, manipulated or managed in some form or other by humans.


When you throw in the prevalence of invasive (or at least non-native) species into the mix, most of which moved by human means, it becomes about impossible. In the eastern deciduous system, two European inverts have essentially overtaken the ecological niches of many native species- honeybees and common earthworms. In the western desert/savannah system, grasses have replaced or competed with a number of native plants. The impacts of those replacements aren't really known, but the bottom line is arguing over what is "natural" is largely a strawman. Luckily, evolution never takes a day off.

and don't even start on global warming/climate change :crazyeyes:

Van


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 8:34 am 

Joined: August 17th, 2011, 12:11 pm
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I believe that if studies were done to determine the changes that occur when boardlines are set out in an area they would likely find that the overall population of many herps would increase. Herps, in general, naturally overproduce what nature can support. If this were not the case, then populations would never be able to recover from fires or years with little rainfall or heavy predation. Most offspring die off because there is not enough prey or habitat to support their survival and they become weakened to the point where they themselves become prey. Boardlines increase the populations of some types of herps because they create new habitat to support their survival.

The ethical issue, I believe, is that the AC is litter.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 8:39 am 
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hellihooks wrote:
Frank's claim is that boardlines are man-made, and therefore not natural... thus unethical.
The boards themselves are neither good nor bad... if NEVER flipped... just an unusually flat piece of wood, out in nature, that herps find very suitable. If flipped regularly, to collect snakes... some would go so far as to call them 'traps'. If used to find herps, towards collecting data... a scientific tool.

The underlying philosophical question is... should ANYTHING man does, from building roads and cities and altering the environment (from boards to building Dams) be considered natural or un-natural?
It could even be argued that NOT using our given intelligence to increase our chances of locating herps (for whatever reason) would be un-natural. Your position on this underlying philosophical question will largely determine your opinion on the 'moral correctness' of employing boardlines, cruising roads, ect, right up to using google earth to scout herping spots.
Again... it's not 'what' is ethical or unethical... it's WHY. :D jim :D


I disagree that the meaning of “natural” is tied up closely with ethics. Ethics are about morality -- good/evil, right/wrong, etc. In the context of field herping I think ethics are about how our behavior affects the animals for the worse and for the better. We can argue forever about whether certain field herping behaviors are good or bad or neutral for individual animals, populations, or species. Those are all discussions about ethics.

“Natural” vs. “unnatural” is not about ethics, but some other philosophical discussion about how people see themselves in relation to animals, plants, landscapes, etc. I think it’s even harder to get consensus on what is “natural” than on what is “ethical”. But they aren’t the same thing at all, and acting as if they are seems unlikely to clarify anything.

John


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 9:11 am 
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I tend to agree that the question of natural versus unnatural should be left out of the discussion of ethics.

Retes wrote:
rants numbers, 345320a and 6684b


I think he raises a good point. That we should consider our impacts as recreational herpers on individual reptiles or amphibians. I'm not saying we should place this consideration above impacts on habitat and populations, but considering the effects of our actions (manipulation for photos, the potential of ac to alter behavior, ect) on individuals should fall into ethical considerations.

Phil Peak wrote:
For those of us that are not content with random sightings there are other techniques that are more reliable for locating snakes. These methods can vary from season to season and from one region to the next. The deployment of AC is only one of these methods. Another is driving roads. Interestingly enough there are those among us that frown upon this technique and do not consider this "field herping". I'm not much into terms and its not important to me whether someone else likes or dislikes this method. What I do care about is finding more snakes and learning what they are doing, both when and where.


I also agree with this statement by Phil. For those of us focused on science and management, collecting high quality data with meaningful sample sizes is a priority. In doing this we have to justify the impacts of our methodology AND minimize those impacts to individuals as part of the process to obtain scientific research permits and animal care and use committee approval.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 9:18 am 
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The logical (and absurd) conclusion to these arguments is that by observing the animals at all, we have changed them (see Heisenberg). Seems to me that the slope upwards from there is pretty slippery, hence the difficulty establishing guidelines.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 9:41 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
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Location: Hesperia, California.
Ribbit wrote:
hellihooks wrote:
Frank's claim is that boardlines are man-made, and therefore not natural... thus unethical.
The boards themselves are neither good nor bad... if NEVER flipped... just an unusually flat piece of wood, out in nature, that herps find very suitable. If flipped regularly, to collect snakes... some would go so far as to call them 'traps'. If used to find herps, towards collecting data... a scientific tool.

The underlying philosophical question is... should ANYTHING man does, from building roads and cities and altering the environment (from boards to building Dams) be considered natural or un-natural?
It could even be argued that NOT using our given intelligence to increase our chances of locating herps (for whatever reason) would be un-natural. Your position on this underlying philosophical question will largely determine your opinion on the 'moral correctness' of employing boardlines, cruising roads, ect, right up to using google earth to scout herping spots.
Again... it's not 'what' is ethical or unethical... it's WHY. :D jim :D


I disagree that the meaning of “natural” is tied up closely with ethics. Ethics are about morality -- good/evil, right/wrong, etc. In the context of field herping I think ethics are about how our behavior affects the animals for the worse and for the better. We can argue forever about whether certain field herping behaviors are good or bad or neutral for individual animals, populations, or species. Those are all discussions about ethics.

“Natural” vs. “unnatural” is not about ethics, but some other philosophical discussion about how people see themselves in relation to animals, plants, landscapes, etc. I think it’s even harder to get consensus on what is “natural” than on what is “ethical”. But they aren’t the same thing at all, and acting as if they are seems unlikely to clarify anything.

John

Again... it doesn't matter what the specific action/topic is... every topic will eventually lead back to basic underlying philosophies, which will be different for different people.
Rather than people supplying example after example of what may or may not be acceptable in context after context, I'm just saying 'strike to the heart of each matter' and then you CAN SAY... from this perspective, this is right or wrong, but from this other perspective, this is right or wrong, and from even another perspective... so on and so forth. THEN people can choose which one they think is right;
Ethics is self-examination, where people figure out WHY they think any given action is good/bad right/wrong... not the conclusions reached at the end. If you hope to get someone to accept YOUR conclusion... you MUST provide the reasons you feel your position is the best.
What I'm trying to do is provide strategies towards streamlining and focusing the issues brought up, by offering the underlying philosophies. jim


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 9:59 am 
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hellihooks wrote:
What I'm trying to do is provide strategies towards streamlining and focusing the issues brought up, by offering the underlying philosophies. jim


It seems to me that mixing in “natural” vs. “unnatural” with “ethical” is doing the opposite of streamlining and focusing the issues.

John


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 10:17 am 

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The initial claim was that boardlines are un-natural (man-made) thus unethical. I'm not taking any positions myself... just trying to clarify what people are saying, whether they realize it or not...and what those claims imply :roll: :D jim


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 Post subject: Re: About boardlines, and ethics
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 10:20 am 
Retes wrote:
Spreading Boardlines is LITTERING, and littering on public or private land ILLEGAL.
That's a bold statement, to put it mildly. You must know all the laws in all the counties across the entire United States. Impressive.

JDM wrote:
The ethical issue, I believe, is that the AC is litter.
We have a few AC spots here in Colorado and to my knowledge, they aren't breaking any laws. The spots are on private land where a structure has been abandonded and the landowner (and previous owners over the years) has actually accumlated junk, boards, tin, etc and strewn it around themselves. We have permission to move or layout more boards. They've opted for the "natural" landscaping method of a weed/grass mixture which is typically hip high. The local HOA hasn't bothered to stop by because there is no HOA and these places are out in the middle of No One Caresville.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 10:25 am 
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Ribbit wrote:
hellihooks wrote:
What I'm trying to do is provide strategies towards streamlining and focusing the issues brought up, by offering the underlying philosophies. jim


It seems to me that mixing in “natural” vs. “unnatural” with “ethical” is doing the opposite of streamlining and focusing the issues.


But that's not what Jim was doing, that's what Frank was doing. Jim was just responding to him.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 11:23 am 
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Upon rereading Frank’s post about board lines, I am not certain of his main point.

I do think that an interesting ethical discussion could be had about board lines and their impact on snakes. But I don’t think it should be about whether board lines are “natural” or not; in that way lies madness.

John


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 12:05 pm 
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VanAR wrote:
When you throw in the prevalence of invasive (or at least non-native) species into the mix, most of which moved by human means, it becomes about impossible. In the eastern deciduous system, two European inverts have essentially overtaken the ecological niches of many native species- honeybees and common earthworms. In the western desert/savannah system, grasses have replaced or competed with a number of native plants. The impacts of those replacements aren't really known, but the bottom line is arguing over what is "natural" is largely a strawman. Luckily, evolution never takes a day off.
and don't even start on global warming/climate change :crazyeyes:
Van


Great point about man's role with invasive species Van.


JDM wrote:
I believe that if studies were done to determine the changes that occur when boardlines are set out in an area they would likely find that the overall population of many herps would increase. Herps, in general, naturally overproduce what nature can support. If this were not the case, then populations would never be able to recover from fires or years with little rainfall or heavy predation. Most offspring die off because there is not enough prey or habitat to support their survival and they become weakened to the point where they themselves become prey. Boardlines increase the populations of some types of herps because they create new habitat to support their survival.

The ethical issue, I believe, is that the AC is litter.


Several years back there was a discussion on this very topic. I argued the position that you make above and felt there was enough evidence to suggest that in some instances the deployment of AC could benefit some populations of herps through enhanced recruitment into the population.

It is difficult for me to consider AC as littering however in an already heavily disturbed habitat such as abandoned farmland. I do believe that the placing of AC without proper consent is unethical and should not be practiced. We have experienced little difficulty in securing permission to create AC sites in general and the many hundreds of pieces of AC that we have are 100% legal.


Ribbit wrote:
It seems to me that mixing in “natural” vs. “unnatural” with “ethical” is doing the opposite of streamlining and focusing the issues.

John


I totally agree with this. I don't see how any of this discussion on natural vs unnatural relates to ethics.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 3:57 pm 

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"I totally agree with this. I don't see how any of this discussion on natural vs unnatural relates to ethics."

Perhaps when every single aspect of 'boardlines' has been discussed to death, and everyone has expressed their opinions, and NO conclusions have been reached (as with every other topic that has come up)... folks will see that it comes down to different people having differing perspectives. Have fun... :roll: :lol: :lol: jim


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 4:02 pm 
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hellihooks wrote:
Perhaps when every single aspect of 'boardlines' has been discussed to death, and everyone has expressed their opinions, and NO conclusions have been reached (as with every other topic that has come up)

:lol: That is so true about this entire thread.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 5:10 pm 
hellihooks wrote:
Perhaps when every single aspect of 'boardlines' has been discussed to death, and everyone has expressed their opinions, and NO conclusions have been reached (as with every other topic that has come up)... folks will see that it comes down to different people having differing perspectives. Have fun... :roll: :lol: :lol: jim
Which is why we shouldn't get all twisted up about trying to separate the pepper from the mouse $&^+.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 5:17 pm 

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hellihooks wrote:
"I totally agree with this. I don't see how any of this discussion on natural vs unnatural relates to ethics."

Perhaps when every single aspect of 'boardlines' has been discussed to death, and everyone has expressed their opinions, and NO conclusions have been reached (as with every other topic that has come up)... folks will see that it comes down to different people having differing perspectives. Have fun... :roll: :lol: :lol: jim


As easy as it is to just agree with this, I disagree. This is all good conversation, I mean look at Phil's posts for instance. Those are well thought out and valuable contributions to this discussion, as are Frank's. I know that Frank acts silly sometimes, but do folks have any idea how much time he's spent in the field? It's valuable to have his contribution, and even if some folks don't agree in the end, we'll all be better educated on our opinions after we've depleted a few arguments. Believe me, these sub-topics have a way of stretching thin and when that point comes, we see posts like yours Jim. It's a self correcting problem really, when the topic has been overstated it becomes mundane and the conversation changes naturally, like it is now. :mrgreen:

I think the discussion of a/c is a great contribution to this thread, and one that will certainly help us to provide a more comprehensive ethic. There's a lot of experience in this discussion and I'm happy to sit back and learn from people like Phil et al.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 25th, 2011, 7:40 pm 

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Point is... we've had and heard most of these things before, with no conclusions reached.... just fizzle out. I was trying to help, as best I could, without making any claims myself. But if you guys wanna hash it all out again... have at it. I got no hard feelings and appreciate everyone who's contributing to the discourse... hell, I even agree with Frank on a few things... :crazyeyes: I really hope something concrete can come of this, but I have my doubts how constructive such an unstructured discourse can be. jim


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 26th, 2011, 12:35 am 
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i understand what you guys are discussing, but i don't see ethics in it. i've mentioned before that a boardline could get raided by a poacher. OK, ethics? still no in my opinion, but if it wasn't there, the issue wouldn't be an issue. could be ethical i suppose, considering we should hold ourselves to higher standards. as far as boardlines having good/bad impacts goes, well, sounds like a good subject for a study. i would venture to guess that boardlines would be good. cover as well a place to thermoregulate/lay eggs. just my opinion.

i'm a bit disappointed that this thread is going in the boardline direction though. i would think that it would go the way of handling, posing for pics, and such. this to me can have direct impacts. for the record, i think the impacts would cause more secretive behavior which would ultimately help. as mentioned in another thread, i do not think a snake would abandon a den or change it's life drastically due to handling.

not trying to derail the boardline thing. just throwing other thoughts out.

-ben


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 26th, 2011, 1:43 pm 

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As per the boardlines being used for scientific research; I think they are only valuable if you are collecting samples, doing presence/abscence surveys, or studying the effects of boardlines. A goal of most science is to not affect what you are studying. In future field guides and texts I don't want to see "found in and under rotting logs" replaced with "found under particle board and sometimes vehicle hoods".
I"m not saying AC is bad (I'm on the fence; I don't place it, but utilize it when available), but natural history is "natural" history.

As per manipulation: I think that it is ethical to capture a herptile. They must be estatic when they "escape". For real though, I think close calls with predators is a normal part of life and our gentle manipulation is acceptable.
Further though, I think cooling (or accidental heating in cool weather herps), relocating, and rough handling are unethical.

As per flipping; I think anything that cannot be easily flipped should be left alone. Further, all hiding places don't need to be opened up. The use of "stump-rippers" and pry-bars is unethical IMO. If a potential snake is hiding underneath a boulder that takes mechanical intervention to flip, then I consider that snake to have won, and I'll have to find it another day. Believe me, I know what it feels like to want to make the most of a herping trip. To "need" that find. There's not much around where I live and I don't get to travel often.

As per collection; In general, I feel this is unethical. I am not opposed to occasional personal collection when it is a planned attempt to gain a long term pet or breeding candidate. I am opposed to impulse grabs just as I am opposed to impulse buys at pet stores. The animals usually suffer from unprepared owners or waining interest after the initial excitement has faded.

I don't let my desires bend my personal stance on what I believe to be ethical, but I cannot claim to be free of any past hypocritical activities.

Ian


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 26th, 2011, 3:42 pm 
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joeysgreen wrote:
In future field guides and texts I don't want to see "found in and under rotting logs" replaced with "found under particle board and sometimes vehicle hoods".
I"m not saying AC is bad (I'm on the fence; I don't place it, but utilize it when available),
Ian


I find this line of reasoning to be rather conflicting. I've noted that there are those that take a bit of a moral high ground and readily admit they would never place AC - yet these same folks seem to have no moral apprehension when it comes to checking it when available. To keep this on topic, what I personally find to be unethical is hypocrasy.

As for field guides - have you considered that many of the species records that go into drawing up the range maps in these guides are from animals found under AC? I guess you could find some of the same animals if you wanted to bust up rotten logs as you suggest but, do we really want to advocate the destruction of natural habitat here?

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 26th, 2011, 6:05 pm 

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It sounds like you're offended.

I don't think it's hypocritical to not want to add to the garbage found in the field, but to look what is underneath what is already there. In areas local to me, I'd bring a truck and clean up the parks a bit; some people call this reclaimation.

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As for field guides - have you considered that many of the species records that go into drawing up the range maps in these guides are from animals found under AC?

I assumed this was common sense for all. As I had mentioned, the only real scientific data that can be obtained from boardlines is presence/abscence data or the otherwise collection of specimens. Clearly, the range maps in field guides would benefit. My point, in response to the people alluding to the thought that boardlines were some kind of scientific miracle tool, is that they are quite limiting in how usefull they are; especially when studying natural history. This is my opinion, but it is based on the principle that you should limit how you affect the subject that you are trying to study.

If hypocrisy offends you, what about honesty? I said that in the past, I had broken my own personal values. I took a young snapping turtle from the wild, and way, way back, I took a prairie rattler from the wild (to be returned). Sometimes I have caught myself trying to flip rocks that probably should've been left. I have since matured, and learned to resist temptation.
I think that I would have made less mistakes if I had a mentor, or heck, even a simple ethics list on a website like this back in the day.

Ian


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 26th, 2011, 6:53 pm 
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joeysgreen wrote:
As per manipulation: I think that it is ethical to capture a herptile. They must be estatic when they "escape". For real though, I think close calls with predators is a normal part of life and our gentle manipulation is acceptable.
Further though, I think cooling (or accidental heating in cool weather herps), relocating, and rough handling are unethical.

As per flipping; I think anything that cannot be easily flipped should be left alone. Further, all hiding places don't need to be opened up. The use of "stump-rippers" and pry-bars is unethical IMO. If a potential snake is hiding underneath a boulder that takes mechanical intervention to flip, then I consider that snake to have won, and I'll have to find it another day. Believe me, I know what it feels like to want to make the most of a herping trip. To "need" that find. There's not much around where I live and I don't get to travel often.

As per collection; In general, I feel this is unethical. I am not opposed to occasional personal collection when it is a planned attempt to gain a long term pet or breeding candidate. I am opposed to impulse grabs just as I am opposed to impulse buys at pet stores. The animals usually suffer from unprepared owners or waining interest after the initial excitement has faded.


well said. i agree with all completely. i especially like the part about herps dealing with predators all the time.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 2:35 am 
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joeysgreen wrote:
It sounds like you're offended.

I don't think it's hypocritical to not want to add to the garbage found in the field, but to look what is underneath what is already there. In areas local to me, I'd bring a truck and clean up the parks a bit; some people call this reclaimation.

Quote:
As for field guides - have you considered that many of the species records that go into drawing up the range maps in these guides are from animals found under AC?

I assumed this was common sense for all. As I had mentioned, the only real scientific data that can be obtained from boardlines is presence/abscence data or the otherwise collection of specimens. Clearly, the range maps in field guides would benefit. My point, in response to the people alluding to the thought that boardlines were some kind of scientific miracle tool, is that they are quite limiting in how usefull they are; especially when studying natural history. This is my opinion, but it is based on the principle that you should limit how you affect the subject that you are trying to study.

If hypocrisy offends you, what about honesty? I said that in the past, I had broken my own personal values. I took a young snapping turtle from the wild, and way, way back, I took a prairie rattler from the wild (to be returned). Sometimes I have caught myself trying to flip rocks that probably should've been left. I have since matured, and learned to resist temptation.
I think that I would have made less mistakes if I had a mentor, or heck, even a simple ethics list on a website like this back in the day.

Ian


I am not offended Ian, just a little frustrated with the holier than thou types that want to beef about AC, then instead of cleaning it up, they check it and move on.

I can assure you that much more scientific data can be collected at an AC site than what you stated. I have no time to expand on this at the moment but, would be willing to open this up later for discussion if you are interested.

I apologize if this is being interpreted as a personel attack since this is certainly not my intent. This is only meant as a continuation of this discussion and an opposing viewpoint.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 5:12 am 

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Fair enough. The scientific benefits of a/c can be discussed in a future thread. If I came across as a "holier than though type" I apologize.

Ian


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 12:41 pm 

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Dan Krull wrote:
This thread has been heavily trafficked by those of us who are pro responsible personal collecting, anti commercial collecting, and pro conservation, but the anti collecting crowd has not spoken up. I don't know for sure if that is because of who responded first, but if that is the case... I would like to extend the invitation to anyone who would like to represent that point of view in the round table.


Been out of this thread for a while, but I'd like to try my hand again. Earlier in the thread I didn't really touch the collection issue - and please humor me here - what EXACTLY is the goal of all this? Is it to create an ethics set for NAFHA or for herping in general? If its NAFHA-related, collecting probably shouldn't even factor into it. On behalf of a data-collecting organization (with an ultimate goal in conservation of species - cause lets face it, what else would the data be used for?), setting an allowance for collecting or anything else "ethically questionable" will only serve to discredit the image of NAFHA and its members to conservation groups in the future. Are we a conservation group or aren't we? Time to figure it out and set it in stone. If someone want to behave "ethically questionably", it only furthers that person's goal and is a potential detriment to everyone else's. If data collection of wild species is inconsistent in regard to disruption of the animals in question, it makes that data far less useful.

If this is supposed to be a blanket statement of herping ethics, it gets much hairier, but in my opinion boils down to this:
Retes wrote:

I am not saying don't do that or do that, I am saying you folks need to CONSIDER, think about, etc, what your doing, not rationlize everything to your advantage. WHICH IS WHAT YOUR DOING.

Events like,

Boardlines

Radios

Posing for pics

manipulating for a multitude of reasons(handling etc)

All of those are you YOUR BENEFIT, for human benefit, none are for the benefit of the animals.

So let the rationalizing continue, at least offer some ethics.


I couldn't have said it better myself (and have tried on multiple occasions). This goes to the heart of my qualm with most herpers in general, and I would suspect many of those who share my: "why do you have to [touch/handle/manipulate/collect] everything you see??" side of the spectrum. Its been said many times by many herpers that when in the situation they "just can't help themselves" regarding whatever (usually handling). And to those folks I say this:
THAT IS THE RATIONALIZATION OF A CHILD.
Of course the follow-through is always to the effect of: "well you can't PROVE its having an impact" or deflect to the "so the ALL-HOLY ACADEMICS can do it but I CAN'T!?" Again, as a child would do. Naturally I'll respond in the appropriate manner: If the academics jumped off the brooklyn bridge, would you?

I can't prove that handling/collecting/etc DOES have an effect, but I can be damn sure that leaving them alone DOESN'T.

This discussion of ethics is all over the place, not only because its been one after another of people rationalizing to their own benefit, but because it seems the most basic focus hasn't been firmly established. Who do we actually want to benefit from these guidelines? Herps or herpers??

It really can't be both.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 1:45 pm 
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Quote:
I can't prove that handling/collecting/etc DOES have an effect, but I can be damn sure that leaving them alone DOESN'T.


Even Frank has said there's potential for a pretty wide spectrum from no effect of handling to lethal effect. Given that the conservation laws/rules that most people here favor would be heavily based on scientifically-collected data, shouldn't the potential ethical considerations of handling (a comparatively minor impact compared to everything else in the world) be given a similar treatment?

Or should we just let the precautionary principle run completely amock? Where's Troy Hibbits when you need him?


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 2:25 pm 

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Bobbleton wrote:
This discussion of ethics is all over the place, not only because its been one after another of people rationalizing to their own benefit, but because it seems the most basic focus hasn't been firmly established. Who do we actually want to benefit from these guidelines? Herps or herpers??

It really can't be both.


Did you happen to read my original post?


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 2:55 pm 

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VanAR wrote:
Quote:
I can't prove that handling/collecting/etc DOES have an effect, but I can be damn sure that leaving them alone DOESN'T.


Even Frank has said there's potential for a pretty wide spectrum from no effect of handling to lethal effect. Given that the conservation laws/rules that most people here favor would be heavily based on scientifically-collected data, shouldn't the potential ethical considerations of handling (a comparatively minor impact compared to everything else in the world) be given a similar treatment?

Of course. And in the absence of specific data, are we not compelled (by conservation) to err on the side of caution?
Quote:
Or should we just let the precautionary principle run completely amock? Where's Troy Hibbits when you need him?

If erring on the side of caution is akin to letting caution run amok . . . then yes. Hell yes. To create a conservation-oriented organization and then ignore legitimate conservation concerns (voiced by its own members) on the basis of "not having specific proof of harm" . . . its not only irresponsible but deeply hypocritical - especially when learning the only thing these cautions get in the way of is the purposeless self-gratification of some members.

chad ks wrote:
Did you happen to read my original post?

I did, Chad - albeit a month or more ago. If I'm not wrong, it was posing some managed medium between the two, correct? Guidelines for us to all follow such that our collective influence on the hobby (lets face it, in the US we basically ARE the hobby) is a positive one.

So is that my answer? The intended benefit is then for the hobby (for the herpers) primarily? That being the case, we need etiquette, not ethics. The implication of a necessity for ethics is that some aspects of the hobby are unethical. I have yet to hear from a person who thinks a "hands off" philosophy is unethical to herps, so the only remaining options are:

1) to convince the "hands on" people to cool it, or
2) to reach a collective agreement in the community that "justifies" that school of thought and insulates those practicing it from criticism.

so which is it?

we either need etiquette to protect the hobby, or ethics to protect the herps. seems like two different discussions.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 3:02 pm 
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Bobbleton wrote:
To create a conservation-oriented organization and then ignore legitimate conservation concerns (voiced by its own members) on the basis of "not having specific proof of harm" . . . its not only irresponsible but deeply hypocritical - especially when learning the only thing these cautions get in the way of is the purposeless self-gratification of some members.


Perhaps we should be clear that this is a field herper discussion, not a "NAFHA" discussion. The "goal" of this discussion has absolutely nothing to do with NAFHA - that organization has been used as an example a few times, but no one is intending anything from this discussion to be used by NAFHA, and NAFHA is in no way involved in trying to direct the discussion. We're on the Field Herp Forum, not any of the NAFHA forums. Many of the people commenting here have never been involved in NAFHA in any way. And our discussion is based on what we think about ethics for field herpers, not ethics for NAFHA.

Your talk about a conservation-oriented organization and "members" makes me think that you've misunderstood the context of the discussion. You're not the first to do so, so I just want to try to make this clear.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 3:32 pm 

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jonathan wrote:
Bobbleton wrote:
To create a conservation-oriented organization and then ignore legitimate conservation concerns (voiced by its own members) on the basis of "not having specific proof of harm" . . . its not only irresponsible but deeply hypocritical - especially when learning the only thing these cautions get in the way of is the purposeless self-gratification of some members.


Perhaps we should be clear that this is a field herper discussion, not a "NAFHA" discussion. The "goal" of this discussion has absolutely nothing to do with NAFHA - that organization has been used as an example a few times, but no one is intending anything from this discussion to be used by NAFHA, and NAFHA is in no way involved in trying to direct the discussion. We're on the Field Herp Forum, not any of the NAFHA forums. Many of the people commenting here have never been involved in NAFHA in any way. And our discussion is based on what we think about ethics for field herpers, not ethics for NAFHA.

Your talk about a conservation-oriented organization and "members" makes me think that you've misunderstood the context of the discussion. You're not the first to do so, so I just want to try to make this clear.


Actually that's incorrect, this does have to do with both NAFHA and FHF, which have an overlapping demographic and interest in the future of field herping. I see no reason to forcefully promote a division between the two in this conversation and as the author of the original post I did have NAFHA in mind as well. So to be very clear, I invite any discussion of NAFHA right here in this thread, and any discussion here can very easily overlap directly onto the NAFHA forums should anyone decide to create a post there. What is the context of this discussion anyway, Jonathon?


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 3:44 pm 

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Bobbleton wrote:
I did, Chad - albeit a month or more ago. If I'm not wrong, it was posing some managed medium between the two, correct? Guidelines for us to all follow such that our collective influence on the hobby (lets face it, in the US we basically ARE the hobby) is a positive one.

So is that my answer? The intended benefit is then for the hobby (for the herpers) primarily? That being the case, we need etiquette, not ethics. The implication of a necessity for ethics is that some aspects of the hobby are unethical. I have yet to hear from a person who thinks a "hands off" philosophy is unethical to herps, so the only remaining options are:

1) to convince the "hands on" people to cool it, or
2) to reach a collective agreement in the community that "justifies" that school of thought and insulates those practicing it from criticism.

so which is it?

we either need etiquette to protect the hobby, or ethics to protect the herps. seems like two different discussions.


You're correct, but missing a few things. I posed some questions to prompt a discussion from which I hoped to mine for information about herping ethics and etiquette by tapping into the vast amount of experience and diversity that exists here on this board. I feel that the growth of our hobby should be understood, and that we should be clear about what herpers think could be damaging and harmful about herping methods, information shared through posting etc. Eventually I would like to author an "essay" on herping ethics and etiquette and offer it to our community. Ethics and etiquette are distinct, but both are relevant in this discussion and I plan to write about both. For instance: is it unethical or poor etiquette to drive too fast while roadcruising? That's a very narrow question that people can decide for themselves, but it should illustrate how both can be present.

Clearly you have an axe to grind with people who handle herps, and that's just fine with me. I'm happy to have your viewpoints represented and I appreciate you contributing. I don't agree that it's as problematic as you seem to think it is.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 3:50 pm 
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Chad, I was replying to Bobbleton, who asked:

Bobbleton wrote:
Earlier in the thread I didn't really touch the collection issue - and please humor me here - what EXACTLY is the goal of all this? Is it to create an ethics set for NAFHA or for herping in general? If its NAFHA-related, collecting probably shouldn't even factor into it. On behalf of a data-collecting organization (with an ultimate goal in conservation of species - cause lets face it, what else would the data be used for?), setting an allowance for collecting or anything else "ethically questionable" will only serve to discredit the image of NAFHA and its members to conservation groups in the future. Are we a conservation group or aren't we? Time to figure it out and set it in stone. If someone want to behave "ethically questionably", it only furthers that person's goal and is a potential detriment to everyone else's. If data collection of wild species is inconsistent in regard to disruption of the animals in question, it makes that data far less useful.

If this is supposed to be a blanket statement of herping ethics, it gets much hairier


To answer his question, I think that all of us have been talking about herping ethics in general, not specific "NAFHA-related" herping ethics. Not once has anyone suggested that we were trying to create an ethics set for NAFHA (which was Bobbleton's question), and if we were this is a weird way of going about it, heavily involving non-NAFHA members and not locating it on a NAFHA forum. If the 450 or so posts in this thread were actually about NAFHA-specific herping ethics, than I missed it.

Now, you can have whatever you want in mind, and whoever wants to can do whatever they want with it, whether they're from kingsnakes.com, localityrosys, or NAFHA. That in mind, I should apologize for assuming things about intentions that I couldn't possibly know. But there's 18 pages of thread, and not once has anyone suggested that these ethics standards we are talking about be applied to NAFHA, nor has anyone suggested that this is a NAFHA-specific discussion. In fact, there are a lot of non-NAFHA members participating who are probably not trying to direct NAFHA policy, and there are a lot of NAFHA members participating who would be saying quite different things if they were considering this potential NAFHA policies, rather than more general field-herping community policies.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 4:19 pm 
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Quote:
Of course. And in the absence of specific data, are we not compelled (by conservation) to err on the side of caution?

If erring on the side of caution is akin to letting caution run amok . . . then yes. Hell yes. To create a conservation-oriented organization and then ignore legitimate conservation concerns (voiced by its own members) on the basis of "not having specific proof of harm" . . . its not only irresponsible but deeply hypocritical - especially when learning the only thing these cautions get in the way of is the purposeless self-gratification of some members.


I disagree that we are compelled to be overly cautious in the absence of specific data. There is an overwhelming abundance of inferential evidence that reptiles in general, and many snakes in particular, do not suffer significant consequences of stress as a result of human handling interactions. The millions (or more) of reptiles kept in captivity, both captive bred and wild caught, attest to this. There are few wild animals that so easily adapt to such a myriad of captive conditions that reptiles experience, let alone thrive as well as some snakes do. The idea that something like a milksnake is so fragile that a single interaction with a human might result in its death (as suggested in a current thread) is preposterous when one considers how easily even wild milksnakes can thrive in captivity, a highly unnatural, stressful, human-dominated environment.

There's also the plethora of radio transmitter studies (which some here lambast out of ignorance) that routinely show snakes moving to the same places and doing the same things year after year, despite heavy human interference. True, its impossible to know if they altered their behavior as a result of the implantation procedure, but again, the consistency of their movements and behaviors is inferential evidence that they cope with the event without significant detrimental impact.

Now sure, there are variations among species and just as some don't do well in captivity, some probably don't handle human interactions nearly as well. However, even considering that, it is interesting to note that there is not one shred of evidence for negative interaction effects that cannot be separated from factors outside of the observers' control at the time.

So, does handling help herps? No, in nearly all cases it certainly doesn't, aside from the potential for educational opportunities. Does it hurt them? Certainly it could, but there is no concrete evidence that it does and, for many species, a whole lot of circumstantial/inferential evidence that it does not. Is that reason enough to be cautious? Sure- one should always keep their minds open.

Most importantly, is that reason enough to completely outlaw handling and proclaim that everyone who handles does so out of some childish need that they are unable to control? Can you be more arrogant than to make such wide-sweeping psychological presumptions simply because you disagree with how a different person gains satisfaction from something?


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 4:31 pm 

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In answer to Van's question about a possible Nafha bias in these talks... which I had suggested, back on pg 12.

One of data collection and limited collection for other purposes. If these guidelines are to reflect the opinions of FHF, AND we go with majority rule and there are enough nafha members in FHF, it would follow that the guidelines we write FOR FHF would reflect that.
Our opinions here at FHF, however, may or may not generalize to the world at large, and if that is the goal, we need to expand our scope of input (increase sampling size)
Now moderating, my opinions will not be expressed, so I'll need some input on
1) scope
2) process
3) resolution of term(s)
4) ethical topics

Now that this discussion is starting where it should have started all along... perhaps it will follow the logical course I suggested when I had agreed to moderate... then again... I've since resigned as moderator, so you can now all un-officially ignore me... :crazyeyes: :lol: :lol:
Nafha doesn't need a set of Ethical guide lines... they are contained within our bylaws... specifically listing the things you can and WILL get kicked out of Nafha for... look them up.

And BTW... data collection (whether by professionals, students, or Nafha citizen scientists) IS done principally FOR the herps, towards better species management. Which is not to say that data-collectors don't also have other interests and motivations, as complex beings...:D jim


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 4:46 pm 
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Bobbleton wrote:
I can't prove that handling/collecting/etc DOES have an effect, but I can be damn sure that leaving them alone DOESN'T.
Can you prove that "leaving them alone" has no effect? Can you even really be "damn sure"? It seems obvious that leaving them alone would not impact them. HOWEVER, even observing herps without disturbing them could potentially have negative impacts.

Consider this hypothetical: A herper finds a snake den. Thanks to the example set by many folks of FHF, he decides not to disturb the snakes and just sits back to observe them. Over the course of time, he returns to the same den on many occasions and even brings a trusted friend or two to observe with him. By not disturbing the snakes, the herper and his friend are able to observe, photograph, and document lots of natural behavior. Gradually, they are able to approach closer and stay longer, without causing any reaction from the snakes. Does it sound good so far? Yes! Well, maybe not. As to result of frequent observation by cautious herpers, the snakes may stop considering bipeds to be a threat and stop seeking cover when they approach. This is great for the herpers, but possibly bad for the snakes. What happens if the next biped is a snake killer or collector?

The only SURE way not to impact herps is to just stay home. Of course, that would just be silly. Better to "herp and let herp" while trying your best to honestly consider your OWN impacts without blindly assuming that those who herp differently are either stupid, immature, irresponsible, or ignorant.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 5:04 pm 

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And to extend Daryl's hypothetical... Suppose you never tell anyone about the den of say Timbers... you come back one day and the place is getting bulldozed, or they're grading for a road 50 yrds away... Some data and voucher shots might have prevented that... so was un-involvement now ethical or un-ethical? Depends upon if your perspective is consequentially-based or intention-based. jim

BTW...2) process


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 5:05 pm 
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VanAR wrote:
So, does handling help herps? No, in nearly all cases it certainly doesn't, aside from the potential for educational opportunities. Does it hurt them? Certainly it could, but there is no concrete evidence that it does and, for many species, a whole lot of circumstantial/inferential evidence that it does not. Is that reason enough to be cautious? Sure- one should always keep their minds open.


This is a good illustration of why ethical questions do not usually have black/white, yes/no answers.

I think most people would agree with VanAR that handling doesn’t help individual herps, except in cases like removing from a busy road. But handling an individual herp, even if it’s not helping that particular herp, could be helping (e.g.) future generations better appreciate herps, and thus be more likely to later perform actions that benefit populations or species.

Along the same lines, relatively intrusive scientific studies such as radio telemetry generally do not help the individual animals involved (again there could be exceptions). But if the results of the studies are used to better understand the species in a way that leads to (e.g.) better habitat protection, populations or species will benefit.

So a question like “Is handling herps ethical?” is essentially unanswerable since it is phrased as a yes/no question, and there isn’t a yes/no answer. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing useful to be said about the ethics of handling herps, of course.

To get back to something pretty concrete, I still think that Gary Nafis’s ethics and etiquette page (http://www.californiaherps.com/info/fieldherpingethics.html) strikes a good balance between brevity and clarity.

John


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PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 5:30 pm 

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Weeding through the discussion, I'll have to agree that a hand's off approach really is best for the herps, no matter how we want to justify handling.

The big BUT though, is that the biggest saving grace for herps (any animal) is human appreciation (panda bear affect). The diverse group that humans are, there is a lot of people that need to touch or interact with them to gain this. Field herping is not hunting, it's not science, it's an outdoor hobby. Call it ethics, or etiquette, it's a guide to behavior deemed acceptable to sustain the hobby. No herps, no hobby.

Ian


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 5:37 pm 

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joeysgreen wrote:
Field herping is not hunting, it's not science, it's an outdoor hobby.

Ian


3) define the term(s)
:roll: :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 5:37 pm 

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jonathan wrote:
Chad, I was replying to Bobbleton, who asked:

Bobbleton wrote:
Earlier in the thread I didn't really touch the collection issue - and please humor me here - what EXACTLY is the goal of all this? Is it to create an ethics set for NAFHA or for herping in general? If its NAFHA-related, collecting probably shouldn't even factor into it. On behalf of a data-collecting organization (with an ultimate goal in conservation of species - cause lets face it, what else would the data be used for?), setting an allowance for collecting or anything else "ethically questionable" will only serve to discredit the image of NAFHA and its members to conservation groups in the future. Are we a conservation group or aren't we? Time to figure it out and set it in stone. If someone want to behave "ethically questionably", it only furthers that person's goal and is a potential detriment to everyone else's. If data collection of wild species is inconsistent in regard to disruption of the animals in question, it makes that data far less useful.

If this is supposed to be a blanket statement of herping ethics, it gets much hairier


To answer his question, I think that all of us have been talking about herping ethics in general, not specific "NAFHA-related" herping ethics. Not once has anyone suggested that we were trying to create an ethics set for NAFHA (which was Bobbleton's question), and if we were this is a weird way of going about it, heavily involving non-NAFHA members and not locating it on a NAFHA forum. If the 450 or so posts in this thread were actually about NAFHA-specific herping ethics, than I missed it.

Now, you can have whatever you want in mind, and whoever wants to can do whatever they want with it, whether they're from kingsnakes.com, localityrosys, or NAFHA. That in mind, I should apologize for assuming things about intentions that I couldn't possibly know. But there's 18 pages of thread, and not once has anyone suggested that these ethics standards we are talking about be applied to NAFHA, nor has anyone suggested that this is a NAFHA-specific discussion. In fact, there are a lot of non-NAFHA members participating who are probably not trying to direct NAFHA policy, and there are a lot of NAFHA members participating who would be saying quite different things if they were considering this potential NAFHA policies, rather than more general field-herping community policies.



Understood, and agreed. It's hard to say exactly where things might go, but I do think that a list of ethics created by this group has some credibility and should be considered by all field herping groups, especially NAFHA. I also think that a list of ethics, if written well, may win favor among anyone who cares about herps and herping.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 5:59 pm 
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VanAR wrote:
I disagree that we are compelled to be overly cautious in the absence of specific data. There is an overwhelming abundance of inferential evidence that reptiles in general, and many snakes in particular, do not suffer significant consequences of stress as a result of human handling interactions. The millions (or more) of reptiles kept in captivity, both captive bred and wild caught, attest to this. There are few wild animals that so easily adapt to such a myriad of captive conditions that reptiles experience, let alone thrive as well as some snakes do. The idea that something like a milksnake is so fragile that a single interaction with a human might result in its death (as suggested in a current thread) is preposterous when one considers how easily even wild milksnakes can thrive in captivity, a highly unnatural, stressful, human-dominated environment.
Most importantly, is that reason enough to completely outlaw handling and proclaim that everyone who handles does so out of some childish need that they are unable to control? Can you be more arrogant than to make such wide-sweeping psychological presumptions simply because you disagree with how a different person gains satisfaction from something?


I really like Van's take on this. Snakes are not porcelain dolls. Within this hobby is a growing contingent of herpers that have seemingly adopted a "hands off" policy that appears to be based upon emotional response rather than factual evidence that such intrusions are actually harmful.

I completely agree that there are occasions when we should refrain from such activities. Heavily gravid snakes or those digesting large meals are examples of animals that I believe are best left unhandled unless there is a genuinely valid reason for doing so.

All that being said, I must admit that I gain much personel satisfaction in occasionally picking up a wild snake. I enjoy the sensation I feel as it crawls through my hands and I appreciate the opportunity to examine it closely while admiring its beauty. And yes, I even appreciate the smell of the musk on my hands afterwards! To me its all part of my outdoor experience and something I take great pleasure in. Selfish perhaps, but God help me I love it!

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 6:11 pm 
Some of the comments in this thread prompted me to revist George Carlin's stand up routine about the environment. He makes some valid points. I don't think his viewpoint gives us license to do whatever we want, however, it puts things in perspective.

I find it hard to believe that a list of ethics is going to have a major impact on the herp population as a whole. I don't know the ratio between herps to herpers, but I'm guessing they win by a large margin. We only encounter a fraction of the population. Having a set of herping ethics to follow makes us feel good.

I remember running into Mike Rochford in FL one year while he was doing a survey of all the snakes on a specific road. The number of DORs on that road was staggering, we encountered a DOR every 15 seconds and the road was several miles in length.

I tend to agree with others who've referenced Gary's etiquette page. Why re-invent the wheel? There's a lot of good stuff on there. In the end, we'll all have to "herp and let herp"© (Cole Grover) anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 6:54 pm 

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I find it hard to believe that a list of ethics is going to have a major impact on the herp population as a whole


Perhaps not now, but to relate, if hunters didn't have regulations would there still be deer to hunt? Ask the bison.

As per the DOR"s, I don't think that just because we in the field arn't the worst threat, doesn't mean we shouldn't be thinking about what we are doing.

Ian


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 6:55 pm 

Joined: June 16th, 2010, 6:03 pm
Posts: 73
Chad and Jonathan - thank you both for the clarification. Chad, I'm simply representing a point of view that was requested to be brought to the table.

Oh, and:
joeysgreen wrote:
As per the DOR"s, I don't think that just because we in the field arn't the worst threat, doesn't mean we shouldn't be thinking about what we are doing.
Well said!

So from here . . . gotta go one at a time. So Van:

VanAR wrote:
I disagree that we are compelled to be overly cautious in the absence of specific data. There is an overwhelming abundance of inferential evidence that reptiles in general, and many snakes in particular, do not suffer significant consequences of stress as a result of human handling interactions. The millions (or more) of reptiles kept in captivity, both captive bred and wild caught, attest to this. There are few wild animals that so easily adapt to such a myriad of captive conditions that reptiles experience, let alone thrive as well as some snakes do. The idea that something like a milksnake is so fragile that a single interaction with a human might result in its death (as suggested in a current thread) is preposterous when one considers how easily even wild milksnakes can thrive in captivity, a highly unnatural, stressful, human-dominated environment.

I understand what you're saying. But you're also referring to animals that live in an environment that almost literally forces them to survive. Really what would a healthy snake have to do to NOT survive when correctly kept? No one is saying human interaction literally stresses them to death - but these snakes (there are other herps, that don't fit anywhere near the comparison) don't live in 2-foot area that always has a hide, a warm spot, fresh water, and a dead mouse once a week. These animals evolved complex behaviors and unique physiology because they wouldn't survive without them. Its literally the ONLY driving force behind animal behavior (you assume potentially disrupting this behavior has no ill effects and I'M arrogant?).

Comparing the correlation between human interaction/survival in captive vs. wild herps is RIDICULOUS. And while your point about the fragile milksnake is probably spot on (and would be the case with MANY herps), that is certainly NOT always the case. The scariest part is that we genuinely don't know the extent of our effects on the majority of these animals. I maintain that erring on this side of caution is the best route (for the animals), and have yet to be convinced otherwise, so we must disagree on this.

Quote:
There's also the plethora of radio transmitter studies (which some here lambast out of ignorance) that routinely show snakes moving to the same places and doing the same things year after year, despite heavy human interference. True, its impossible to know if they altered their behavior as a result of the implantation procedure, but again, the consistency of their movements and behaviors is inferential evidence that they cope with the event without significant detrimental impact.

I agree completely. I have been and am currently participating in several such studies. I understand that there are impacts on the animals involved in not only the surgeries, but the repeated visits to them as well. That having been said, I am of the opinion that such disturbances are necessary - with the idea in mind that the knowledge gained (and there's often more to learn) can and will be utilized to protect that species and the things it requires to survive. However, herping (in whatever sense) does not fall into that category, and data collection requires the minimal disturbance possible to determine presence. We're also talking about a research team concentrating on a population vs. every herper on the continent concentrating on EVERY population he/she knows about. I know there are lots of researchers, but its not even close.

Quote:
However, even considering that, it is interesting to note that there is not one shred of evidence for negative interaction effects that cannot be separated from factors outside of the observers' control at the time.

Could you clarify this?

Quote:
So, does handling help herps? No, in nearly all cases it certainly doesn't, aside from the potential for educational opportunities. Does it hurt them? Certainly it could, but there is no concrete evidence that it does and, for many species, a whole lot of circumstantial/inferential evidence that it does not. Is that reason enough to be cautious? Sure- one should always keep their minds open.

That's honestly the most I could hope for. I do think many here fall into this category.

Quote:
Most importantly, is that reason enough to completely outlaw handling and proclaim that everyone who handles does so out of some childish need that they are unable to control? Can you be more arrogant than to make such wide-sweeping psychological presumptions simply because you disagree with how a different person gains satisfaction from something?
Yes. I'm arrogant.
However, I made no wide-sweeping psychological presumptions - in fact I directed my statement quite specifically; it was not about all who handle and there was really nothing wide-sweeping about it. And I certainly don't retract my statement - you're exactly right. Those rationales i mentioned = childish need.
Call it what you want, call me what you want. But when you are interacting with a herp for ANY reason other than for its own benefit - its selfish. You are doing it for yourself. I do it. We all do it. But to call it something other than selfish is deluded.


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 Post subject: Re: A Discussion of Herping Ethics (warning: long winded)
PostPosted: October 27th, 2011, 7:39 pm 

Joined: June 16th, 2010, 6:03 pm
Posts: 73
Daryl Eby wrote:
Can you prove that "leaving them alone" has no effect? Can you even really be "damn sure"? It seems obvious that leaving them alone would not impact them. HOWEVER, even observing herps without disturbing them could potentially have negative impacts.

Sorry, when I said leaving them alone, I meant ACTUALLY leaving them alone. Not observing them. Not taking in-situ pics. Knowing they are there, and unless further participation is warranted, leaving them alone. This is not meant to be a blanket statement, of course (which I'll get to).

Quote:
Consider this hypothetical: A herper finds a snake den. Thanks to the example set by many folks of FHF, he decides not to disturb the snakes and just sits back to observe them. Over the course of time, he returns to the same den on many occasions and even brings a trusted friend or two to observe with him. By not disturbing the snakes, the herper and his friend are able to observe, photograph, and document lots of natural behavior. Gradually, they are able to approach closer and stay longer, without causing any reaction from the snakes. Does it sound good so far? Yes! Well, maybe not. As to result of frequent observation by cautious herpers, the snakes may stop considering bipeds to be a threat and stop seeking cover when they approach. This is great for the herpers, but possibly bad for the snakes. What happens if the next biped is a snake killer or collector?

Daryl, though not for the exact reasons, I do my best to avoid frequenting critical areas (like dens) at critical times without purpose. In fact I do my best to never visit timber dens more than once a year (and my visits have become even less frequent in recent years). If what you mentioned does have merit, its all the more reason to consider every angle, though I'd be hard-pressed to be convinced handling could repeatedly have LESS impact on an animal than passively observing it (not counting busy roads :D ).

Quote:
The only SURE way not to impact herps is to just stay home. Of course, that would just be silly. Better to "herp and let herp" while trying your best to honestly consider your OWN impacts without blindly assuming that those who herp differently are either stupid, immature, irresponsible, or ignorant.
So back to this - naturally I agree. Staying home is just silly and whatever disturbance is caused by discovering a herp is not something anyone can get around. And avoiding snakes in the way I mentioned earlier (the non-blanket statement) is the extreme, and not necessary across probably most of the board, but in some cases it most certainly is and not recognizing that is a mistake.

Now I appreciate you categorizing people who don't herp like me into:
stupid
immature
irresponsible
ignorant
- but while they were basically my words, they at no point were to describe everyone who herps differently from me. They were to describe those who herp stupidly, immaturely, irresponsibly, or ignorantly. and just disagreeing with me isn't part of my definition of any of those adjectives.

hellihooks wrote:
And to extend Daryl's hypothetical... Suppose you never tell anyone about the den of say Timbers... you come back one day and the place is getting bulldozed, or they're grading for a road 50 yrds away... Some data and voucher shots might have prevented that... so was un-involvement now ethical or un-ethical? Depends upon if your perspective is consequentially-based or intention-based.

I don't disagree at all. I'm not at all against voucher shots or data collection. Like I said earlier, the "disturbance of discovery" is unavoidable. As for myself, I personally ensure that every critical snake area I know about is also known about by those with the ability to protect it, though I understand not everyone is in that position.

You're right about ethics being based on perspective . . . though in the case of herps I would like them to be based on consequence. Good intentions for conservation mean squat without the results. Ultimately I don't give a wet-dump about how you, me, or anyone else FEELS about what's being done. If it helps some animal populations exist 100 years from now that otherwise might not have - it worked. If not - it didn't.


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