Brian, I grew up in southeastern MN not far from C. horridus
' range there, my wife is from upstate NY, and I've also lived (among various other places) in northcentral FL and now TX (though I'm also just outside of the species' range here, I think), more or less the four corners of the species' extant range. I've spent considerable time at these places and could even direct you to dens I know of due to my own personal efforts at the northern locations. Moreover, I talk with people, read and think to fill in gaps in my personal experience, just as you do. I'm certainly no expert on the species, no, but I understand well enough what's going on with them. And by the way, I've also lived in and many times since visited AZ, and can readily say that more than any place else it holds my heart (and by no means just because of the herps there).
It's not so much a question of whether an animal is safe, but rather what if any risk comes to it via sharing information (not to mention the most basic information imaginable) about it in an internet forum. I understand that such information sharing is a bad thing from the selfish perspective of not wanting "your" spots sullied by having other people know about and visit them, but I see essentially no reason to believe that it is a bad thing otherwise. There certainly are species/populations/sites under various threats, but internet information sharing is not by any realistic means among those threats. Everything I know from experience and other learning tells me that my perspective on this matter is far more grounded in reality than is your own.
I've been around a fairly long time now, too (I first lived and herped in AZ in the mid-1980s), long enough to have gained at least somewhat of an understanding of the history of the perspective you and various others now hold. Secrecy has always been prized by some, but in demonstrably tangible terms it has always been simply a way for people to try to guard what they consider to be "their" spots. As the number of herpers out there grew, paranoia about their sullying folks' "personal" spots apparently grew accordingly. It wasn't enough anymore to keep one's secrets to oneself - new people keep showing up at these spots, after all, so someone else must be telling them about them! (despite another painfully obvious explanation) - so it became more and more important to not only maintain personal secrecy but to also try to swear everyone else to doing likewise. Now we're to the point where some seem to be pushing a sort of unspoken Grover Norquist-style pledge that ultimately has to be adopted by everyone that all herp hunting information will be jealously guarded. Of course, not everyone is so self-oriented in their herpetological pursuits, so how to persuade them to sign on? Too, lots of us view the personal boardlines that exploded in popularity in CA (and to a lesser degree elsewhere) as nothing more than unsightly, illegal dumps (which they are, when placed without the landowner's/manager's permission), so how to persuade people that they too need to be guarded? Obviously, the purpose has to be redefined as protecting the animals rather than protecting "personal" spots. Every situation has to be framed as "you're either with us, or you're against the animals."
I'm not saying that this was necessarily a conscious thing (though I readily believe that it was in more than a few people). People like to believe that their behavior is guided by higher purposes than things like selfishness, and are naturally expert on rationalizing their own views and actions in order to put them in the most favorable light possible. And other people bought into the "keep it secret to save the animals!" campaign after it was well underway. I understand that there are now plenty of true believers out there, no matter how they started. But I can't help but also understand that it's harmful rather than helpful, and I won't buy into it. Frankly, although I find its selfish basis perfectly understandable, I find the divisiveness that it produces when people get militant about it - as has become increasingly common here at FHF - downright dismaying.
Go ahead and again laugh off what I've said, maybe make another joke about how verbose I am (I certainly deserve that, anyway!
). But I tend to think you're a plenty smart fellow, too, more than smart enough to realize there's considerable truth to what I've said if you'll only stop and actually think things through again. If you prefer to continue seeing things otherwise for whatever reasons then of course that's your prerogative, we can agree to disagree, but I'm asking you again, please stop with the divisive "you're either with us, or you're against the animals" crap. I'm not an enemy to herps, nor is John, nor are the many others that share my view. Stop attacking us as if we were.
John, the more I see, the more I like. Wildlife conservation benefits most from practical intellect and hard work, and you obviously bring both to the cause.
James, welcome to the forum. Please don't take the postings of a few as representative of the majority (let alone all of us) here. We're actually diverse in both our interests and our views, excepting of course our overall interest in herps.