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. .
To not survive in captivity, a snake could be stressed to the point that it didn't eat, didn't drink, or that immune function (or some other physiological mechanism) was compromised. We see this pretty commonly when many vertebrates are brought into captivity- especially birds and mammals. Also, just because all of those beneficial aspects of captivity are present doesn't mean that a snake placed in a cage automatically benefits from them. Because snakes are not stressed to the point of injury in captivity, its reasonable to suspect that their tolerance to stress is quite high.
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?)
That's a very circular argument. The diversity of behavior and physiology in snakes (especially among closely-related species) actually argues the opposite- there are many strategies they can take that are evolutionarily stable. The variation of behavior and physiology even across populations within single species (especially the widespread species) suggests that these traits are actually highly plastic with environment, and possibly evolutionarily labile. While snakes do have complex behaviors, their ability to adapt to novel situations and conditions is pretty amazing for a vertebrate. If it wasn't, they'd have died out in disturbed habitat long ago, but in many cases, they actually do much BETTER in disturbed habitat than in pristine. Though I disagree somewhat with his methods, Phil has been making this argument for years based off of repeated observations at tin sites. Other examples include FL kingsnakes in the canefields, and tiger rattlesnakes on AZ golf courses.
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.
I never said the milk example applied to all species- certainly some are likely to be more fragile than others. That said, why is it so ridiculous to compare captive herps to wild? The genetic basis of their behavior/physiology is exactly the same, so if they are so tightly evolved to a single set of environmental conditions (as you suggested earlier), how is it possible for them to survive in captivity? Erring on the side of caution will certainly not harm the animals (nobody is *seriously* suggesting that it is, aside from educational benefits), and I think that is a very valid way to go about your herping. The argument here isn't necessarily about herping hands-on or hands-off, but specifically whether hands-on is harmful enough that it should be something to be avoided.
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.
Glad we agree that disturbance is necessary for research, but let me be honest. I am a researcher first, herper second, but I'm not arguing here to justify my research methods to anyone. My arguments here are not about justifying herping methods, either. My arguments here are against people getting verbally (and sometimes confrontationally) harassed for doing something that some people disagree with, yet has not been shown to be valid.
However, herping (in whatever sense) does not fall into that category, and data collection requires the minimal disturbance possible to determine presence.
I'm not personally arguing from an NAFHA standpoint. Not sure how the differences between NAFHA and regular herping will fall out, but I could see good reasons for there being different standards, particularly given federal regulations on animal research.
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.
And one of the first rules of posting on FHF already is not to post locality information, which is the biggest thing we can do to minimize herper impacts, IMO. Also, how many herpers are there? How many herping locations are there? Certainly, some species/populations are again more sensitive than others, but old discussions about the impact of roadcruise-based collection methods on certain species seem applicable here. For many (if not most) herps, there is far more suitable habitat than there is herper-accessible habitat.
Could you clarify this?
Yeah, there's been a lot of talk about disturbed snakes "disappearing" from sites of disturbance. People have interpreted that disappearance as being due to death, abandonment, reduced reproduction, and better crypsis. Abandonment and crypsis have been further interpreted as negatively correlated with thermoregulatory ability and/or foraging success, with resulting negative effects on survival, growth, and reproduction. That's a whole lot of speculation based on the simple observation that one day, someone saw a snake was in a rock crevice, but that person never saw that snake in that rock crevice on any subsequent day.
My point was that there is no evidence that the human disturbance caused a chain reaction leading directly to the animal's death. All that happened was that the snake was no longer at that site. By those two observations alone, one cannot A) know what happened to the snake, and B) know what action was responsible for what happened to the snake. Instead, I point to inferential evidence from radiotelemetry (again, using snakes that are FAR more disturbed) that the snake probably did move, or used better crypsis, but was just fine and likely did return to that same site again without the observer's knowledge.
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.
Calling people you disagree with children (and thereby suggesting that they can't control themselves) isn't a psychological presumption? How do you know why they handle herps?
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.
I never said it wasn't selfish, but who ever said selfish was a horribly evil thing? Breathing and consuming resources that could be used by others sounds pretty darn selfish to me, as does every recreational activity out there. Crapping out kids, driving cars, and otherwise destroying/polluting the heck out of the planet seems pretty selfish too (and far greater impactful to herp survival, IMO), but just about everyone here is or will be doing those things, or be complicit to them.