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Official position statement from the DFW

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Posted by: dfwhs_education at Sat Apr 21 17:48:46 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by dfwhs_education ]  
   

I have sent this letter to the Local and Consent Committee, Culture, Recreation, & Tourism, Pete Gallego, and my Representative.


Steve Campbell
President

Michael Smith
Editor

Debbie Dorman
Treasurer

Mark Pyle
Education Coordinator

Allison Blankenship
Secretary

Jennifer Pyle
Membership

Machelle Ashbaugh
Board Member at Large



The Honorable xxx, House Committee on Culture, Recreation, & Tourism

Dear Representative xxx,

I am writing you to express my serious concern with HB 2414. The bill in its original form was not objectionable. It was intended to clarify the description of public road or right-of-way. The bill was then amended after it went to the public hearing. The wording “game animal, wild fowl, or bird” was changed to “wild animal or bird”. This change in wording changed the focus of the bill. The current version of HB 2414 would make it illegal to collect animals from the road or right-or-way (alive or dead), move an animal from the road, or manipulate an animal for a photograph. The current amendment will negatively impact educational and research collections of reptiles and amphibians in the state of Texas. Without these voucher specimens and other data educated management of reptile and amphibians will be made more difficult. .
During many of the Dallas-Fort Worth Herpetological Society’s field trips I have observed individuals collecting road killed specimens. These specimens were later donated to the University of Texas at Arlington collection and preserved for further study. The specimen along with its data is a representation of that animal’s existence at that place and time.
The people gathering this info were not professionals or researchers but reptile enthusiasts. Many started out as reptile keeps that became interested in learning more, and have since ventured into a study of reptile and amphibian natural history. Looking for reptiles and amphibians on the road way and in right-of-ways gave them this opportunity. Many of these same individuals participate in Texas Park and Wildlife’s monitoring programs. These programs include the Horn Lizard Monitoring, Texas Amphibian Monitoring, and Box Turtle Survey project. All of these programs encourage individuals to use the public roads and right-of-way to collect information. The information gathered provides a real and useful method of managing this wildlife resource. It would not be possible for a small number of professionals to gather this much data. Without the help of amateurs there will be a void that will cause a loss in future data and the ability to effectively manage this resource.
The interest in reptile and amphibians of many people started with an animal at a pet shop. All they know about the animal is the basic requirements to keep it alive. I have personally enlightened many people through the Dallas – Fort Worth Herpetological Society’s education program to the importance of the environment that they live in. Finding a snake on the road and interacting with it builds a bond and an appreciation for it and where it lives. This bond turns into an understanding for the need for conservation. There are not many places you can legally get this kind of interaction. State parks are off limits. Private property comes with a large price tag of a lease that most can not afford.
TPWD is working on a “white list” of animals that will be allowed to be commercial collected. If there is a conservation issue on a species TPWD will not put that animal on this list. More information about this list can be found at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/?req=20070409d. If TPWD finds that excessive pressure is being put on a species from commercial collection it can be removed from the list. Removing that animal would release this pressure. This list would be a more effective management tool than the current bill.
The Dallas- Fort Worth Herpetological Society is a key member of the Box Turtle Partnership of Texas. The BTPT has formally addressed the TPWD commission meeting in regards to the excessive commercial collection of Box Turtles and proposed a ban on commercial collection of Box Turtles. Not long after, the Box Turtle Survey project was started. More recently, TPWD has proposed an update to their commercial collection permitting regulation. Under the new regulation all turtles would be ban from commercial collection. The Dallas Fort-Worth Herpetological Society and The Box Turtle Partnership of Texas are pleased with this outcome. Conservation Issues are of major concern but HB2414 does not address these issues and in fact interferes with the ability to make wise management chooses.
Thank you for taking time to review this bill. If you would like to contact me please call (817) 573-3508 or e-mail XXXXXXX@charter.net.

Sincerely,

Mark Pyle
Dallas – Fort Worth Herpetological Society
Education Coordinator
619 Newlin Ln.
Granbury, TX 76048
(817) 573-3508


   

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