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herp societies and shows

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Posted by troy h on September 11, 2002 at 09:47:31:

In Reply to: Actually this is becoming extremely sad... posted by Kenny Wray on September 10, 2002 at 12:27:31:

let me first say that i'm not "for" either Carl's show or the Arnold's show. fact is, i have my reservations about both operations. but the pros and cons of each competing group is not what i'm here to discuss - the relationship that a herp society has with a particular a show is.

my herp society experience spans 3 dallas area societies: the DHS, NTHS, and (to a lesser degree) the DFWHS. i also have a longstanding membership in the Texas Herp Society and the ETHS (Houston). what that experience tells me is that when a society focuses too narrowly, that society will not last.

1) DHS began to focus almost exclusively on legal matters, contesting TPWD anti-herping regulations

2) NTHS allowed its focus (and its draw to the public) to become the live animals that were offered for sale at meetings by various members and vendors. when the herp market (and thus sales) declined, the vendors quit coming. without "for sale" snakes to look at, membership declined.

On the opposite extreme is the Texas Herp Society (THS) which is purely oriented towards academics and field herpers, with its fall symposium and spring field trip. This society has never had a huge membership (perhaps 200, at most) but it has surived since 1939.

the ETHS falls somewhere in the middle. it has field trips (occassionally), does not allow the sale of herps at its meetings (due mostly to the fact that the zoo, where meetings are held, does not allow it), but does host an annual conference and breeder's expo. The conference is usually very successful, although (to my eye, i don't have numbers) it seems that attendance, while still high, has declined the past few years. i think their success, while still holding an expo is largely due to the fact that they control it. Further credit must be given to their core of officers, who seem to accept the fact that they will be some sort of officer "for life" rather than hand off the chores to others (part of the problem with NTHS).

I disagree with Kenny that a society that sponsors a show will die off. obviously, it isn't happening in houston. however, i think a society should be very careful about linking thier fortune to the fortunes of the herp trade (which is currently in a "down" cycle). I think houston (ETHS) survives largely because it isn't driven by the herp trade, but rather by education - and that they allow an annual outlet for trade (or keep the trading in the parking lot instead of the meeting room).

how does this discussion pertain to the DFWHS? i think you guys should be very careful about your association with herp shows. i thought that severing your ties with the Texas Reptile Expo was a good move, because your society's stated goals of conservation did not align themselves well with the commericialism or sale of wild-caught herps present at those expos.

at the same time, however, it now APPEARS that you have allied yourselves with Carl's show. while i wasn't there, and can't make any grounded statements about the adherence of the vendors to Carl's "cb only" policy, what i'm hearing (3rd hand) suggests that there were wc or captive-born from wc animals available there.

furthermore, i'm given to understand that it was Carl, as a board member of the DFWHS who made the motion that the DFWHS sever its ties with the Texas Reptile Expo, seconded by Steve Hammack. now it is these same members of the society that have organized a competing expo. Please don't misunderstand - I don't have a particular problem with either of these individuals organizing a new expo. What i'm saying is that it LOOKS LIKE (because the organizers are officers of the DFWHS) is that the DFWHS is associated with and sponsoring the new expo rather than the Arnold's show.

from the outside, i guess the whole affair seems perhaps a little distasteful.

Good luck to you all
Troy Hibbitts
(taking a break from local herp societies in general)

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