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Posted by: 53kw at Sat Jan 7 11:30:13 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by 53kw ]  
   

Mulitiple grassroots conservation initiatives are gaining traction in regions all over the United States. For example in the southeast, the Gopher Tortoise Council is working to restore vigor to native reptile populations throughout the region. Where ever reptile conservation initiatives are at work, public support hinges on education and nurturing a paradigm of broad social valuation of wild reptiles as desirable components of local human environments.

To gain traction and succeed, this education needs to occur across a very broad base of dialog points; promoting the value of wild reptiles as essential partners in maintaining environmental balance, as beautiful wild creatures that add value to any region as irreplaceable components of what Thoreau called "the tonic of wildness", and as spirited, intelligent, emotional, entitled living things that deserve lives free of persecution and negative consequences of human indifference.

At this point in America's relationship with wild reptiles, I'm reminded of the early days of populist bird-watching. Birders got their message out and in the decades since, the message has taken hold and become a de facto element of America's relationship with nature. While the core messages of reptile appreciation are rightly focused on the reptiles themselves and their environmental and esthetic value, we herpers can add another grain to the mix if we make a point of declaring our monetary contribution to local economies.

I suggest making a point of telling hotel clerks, gas station workers, restaurant servers and anyone else we buy from during a road trip, that we are there to see wild reptiles. Herpers do travel a lot and announcing the reason for our visit and patronage allows tracking of our collective economic impact. It's a small thing that costs us nothing, but as comments add up, local vendors may start talking about it and eventually put it on the radar.

Small communities that care nothing about cranes now host crane-watching festivals during seasonal gatherings of Sandhill cranes at locations around the nation. Small town mayors run around in feathered hats where a few years ago, that same mayor might not have been able to spell "crane" or cared to. If we travel to herp, or herp while traveling for some other reason, let's be sure the vendors and accommodation managers at our destinations know why they are getting our money. In time, communities not traditionally known for supporting wildlife initiatives may embrace regional reptile stewardship efforts, or at least pause before condemning them. Given the near-zero investment of simply declaring the reason for your presence, any gain is a good gain.


   

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