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