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RE: Once again, Aaron...

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Posted by: chris_mcmartin at Sat Jul 10 17:25:07 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by chris_mcmartin ]  

This paradigm assumes two things, which may not be true: (1) that the animal you found is guaranteed a certain death by vehicle if you allow it to go free (it's not -- I mean, it made this far into adulthood and hasn't gotten squashed yet.), and (2) that taking an established adult has the same consequence as taking a juvenile (it doesn't).

That's true--those are assumptions. However, I don't know if I'd phrase the first assumption the way you have. Basically, I am describing a human/snake encounter via automobile. There are several possible outcomes--here are the ones that readily come to mind:

1. Driver does not even notice there's a snake in the road. Outcome: dead snake. (This happens often, even among herpers, unfortunately!)
2. Driver sees the snake and swerves on purpose to hit it. Outcome: dead snake. (This also unfortunately happens often, due to longtime stigmas against snakes)
3. Driver sees the snake and swerves to avoid it. Outcome: snake is alive (for now--see caveat below)
4. Driver sees the snake and stops to take pictures. Outcome: snake is alive (for now--see caveat below)
5. Driver sees the snake and collects it. Outcome: snake is alive (but dead as far as the natural population is concerned)

Of course, On options 3 and 4 above, the snake has the potential of placing itself at the mercy of ALL options repeatedly, either the same night or on subsequent nights, if it continues to visit the road. Other topics of debate include whether the snakes are merely transiting the road, or actually seek it out for thermoregulation purposes, and relative probabilities of encountering Options 1 through 5 above (how many herpers are on a given road as a percentage of total traffic, for example).

No, you can't guarantee that a baby won't get squashed either, but you can be certain that an established adult statistically has a better chance of surviving to keep the allele in question in the population than a baby does.

As you have defined it here, yes. Assuming behaviors regarding road use experience no ontogenetic changes, each snake that uses the road, regardless of age, has the same probability of getting smooshed on a given night. The difference, as you have noted here, is that the adult may also potentially be "getting jiggy" each night it DOESN'T get smooshed.

If people are doing it anyway (as per the several e-mails and pictures I've received since the law went into effect), and therefore ignoring the law and being open about it, then exactly what opportunity needs to be returned to the herpers?

The opportunity to contribute to our knowledge of not only this species, but ALL our herps. There is a lengthy history of enmity between hobbyist herpers and Wildlife Departments. We as hobbyists clamor for "science-based" bag limits, but the Departments don't have the money or manpower to do the requisite research.

Hobbyists can be a force multiplier for academia by reporting observations, but what hobbyist wants to highlight themselves to potential law enforcement inquiries as the laws stand now? i.e. "You're reporting species X was encountered on this road; maybe we better raid your house to make sure you didn't collect it."

I'm not suggesting a "hands-off" policy in regards to Blondes -- just SOME policy in regards to adult Blondes. There is some merit to this approach: you are eliminating ONE of the two previously mentioned human-caused removals of adults from the wild.

The problem is that you're NOT eliminating it...just reducing one aspect of it (legal take). I think we'd both agree that there is still illegal take; the difference now is that nobody wants to share information which could be useful in determining species/morph populations. Does that make the population better off? If nothing else, I think it damages our UNDERSTANDING of the population.

iBut why the need to collect them anyway?

Indeed--why collect ANY suboc? Blech. Just kidding! They're alright, and I collect on (digital) film only--just don't really have the inclination to keep one, even a blonde.

To me, the need to do so reflects this attitude that says, "Hey, wait til my buddies at the Outback Oasis and the hometown herp club see what I found THIS weekend."

I think the attitude, at least as I see it, is more a special memory of the Trans-Pecos. It's about more than just a snake.

I do think bag limits should be allowed AND followed AND based on the best pop. data available. Get me straight...I'm FOR collecting and keeping, but not for unregulated collecting and keeping.

...and I think the best population data available will out of necessity include information from hobbyist field herpers. Snakes are being collected, even when and where it's illegal. I don't condone that. I would rather see--and help me think through the downside to this, because I don't see much of one--a total amnesty for a set period on the take of snakes, so long as all data is reported (in this case, to TPWD). The Department would guarantee, in writing, that Herper X will be free and clear of any legal ramifications for the number of snakes/herps they report. The hobbyist gets new localities and/or bloodlines, and the Department gets swamped with a mountain of new data for a variety of species, to make better population estimates and therefore develop the coveted science-based bag limits.

But now that everybody can find out exactly where to find them, I do fear for their future as remaining extant in the wild.

Even knowing EXACTLY where to find an animal doesn't guarantee someone looking for one will find one. I may be particularly cursed, but it's taken me YEARS to find some of my target species, despite being told exactly where, and under what conditions, to look! And I STILL haven't found an alterna!

Believe me, I'm repenting and do sometimes cringe for putting locality information in my book...

*And BTW, how many non-herper buddy's do you have who hang out in Brewster county bars on the weekends?

Hypothetical...I concede the point.

Forgot to tell you the bad news. The restaurant in the pic has gone out of business...did you send them some sort of "cease and desist" for trademark infringement?

Chris McMartin
I'm Not a Herpetologist, but I Play One on the Internet


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