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RE: Anyone read this about Baja herps?

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Posted by: CBH at Thu Jul 1 19:28:08 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by CBH ]  
   

Not all species / habitats are created equal.....

Sure, it might appear anecdotally that populations of species such are rosy boas are not harmed by commercial collecting but that is based on very little data. The data that does exist isn't detailed and doesn't include information about population age structure, sex ratios, size classes, etc.....

While I do not disagree that human induced habitat loss via development is a more serious threat, all threats synergistically impact species/populations/distributions/ etc...

I can think of two examples where herp collection (both legal and illegal) has negatively impacted species in the state I currently reside in.

First, There are a few spots that used to be heavily collected for bullsnakes and western hognose snakes. It wasn't uncommon (~30 years ago) to collect ~15-20 w. hongose snakes in a day ("Poacher", pers. comm.). Last year, I was told by one of the collectors that "he/she" didn't find any at "the spots". Hmm..... I wonder why??? Recently, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some w. hognose research in those areas and we avg. ~1-2 hognose per week (15 since ~April). This decline is based primarily on anecdotal evidence, but hey.... so is your argument.

Secondly, here in MN, timber rattlesnakes were legally collected and killed (bounty) until the late 80's. If it were not for the passage of legislation to list them as state threatened they would of been extirpated from the state. There is population data to back this up.....

Bottom line, not all species, habitats, meta-populations are created equally. There are areas that could most likely sustain unregulated 'harvest' of herp species, but there are certainly even more areas that cannot. Endemic species or meta-populations of non-endemic species can easily be lost through over-harvest. Meta-population theory is very interesting, and if you (or anyone) is even remotely interested in it I highly recommend looking into it. Also look into Maximum sustainable yield in a biological context (WARNING: a little math heavy).

We are all allowed our opinions.

Cheers,
-Chris

P.s. The amount of "open space" in the western United States is VERY different from what is left in the eastern US. Habitats that have been fragmented by roads and housing developments can be tough on herps..... toss in a bit of collecting and it can be devastating.
-----
Christopher E. Smith
Contact
Captive Bred Herps
Wildlife Research & Consulting Services, LLC


   

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