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Re: Not completely true Lester! >>>

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Posted by Lester G. Milroy III on July 21, 2002 at 15:23:37:

In Reply to: Re: Not completely true Lester! >>> posted by loren on July 18, 2002 at 19:03:42:

: Hi Lester,
: In essence, you are right. I was not disputing the fact that, relative to all the WCs, CB HLs are all but non-existant. However, 1% is still 1% and because i breed HLs publically, your statement could be perceived by others as a directly disputing my claim to success. I'm not sure if you feel this way but i certainly do not feel like being perceived by newcomers as a liar either. So, hopefully you understand why i had to split hairs.

: We seem to be in agreement on all but a couple issues surrounding HLs and i for one am glad to have someone of your experience and caliber working with HLs and contributing(sometimes running, LOL) this forum.

: While i would certainly agree that commercial collection has had a negative impact on different HL species, I am also convinced that collection plays a relatively minor role in the decline of HLs. While this conviction might lead one to denounce all collection of HLs just to be safe, there are certain details involved in this mindset that, IMO, are counterproductive to some crucial elements of present and future HL conservation.

: 1. People are more willing to make sacrifices to protect animals they love. People come to love animals by learning about them and experiencing them (whether in nature, parks, reserves, zoos, TV, books or as a pet). So, people who are interetsed enough in HLs to try and keep one as a pet, while often deadly for the HL, are actually becoming more emotionally invested in HLs. The things they learn and the interest this experience generates may very well drive the next genration of HL conservationists. God knows the HLs are going to need lots of help from humans if they are going to continue.

: 2. Exaggerating the effects that commercial collection has on HL species is bad for two reasons: (1) It misrepresents the deeper, underlying causes that are at the roots of the HL's decline. If people think HLs are going extinct because ther are a bunch of greedy, non-caring yokels collecting them, then they will be less likely to come to terms with habitat loss through the development of their own town, or the pollution created in their state, or the non-native species that are taking over HL habitat or any of the root causes for HL declines. (2) It makes the entire reptile industry appear to outsiders as though it is the reason why reptiles are going extinct all over the planet. Once again, i must say that while collection certainly has its impact, species are going extint for other reasons. The reptile industry and responsible collection is a powerful tool for reptile education and conservation if circumstances allow and if caring, and responsible herp enthusuasts do the right thing.

: Well, that's my 2-cents and my turn at rambling.
: No hard feelings here Lester, just a rigorous mindset that promotes healthy disagreements and discourse :)
: loren

: : :Loren, I stand by my statement because there are thousands of HLs in the pet trade each year and less than 1% are "captive bred." There are no captive bred HLs in the pet trade and until that percentage increases significantly and the stress and "harvesting" of wild populations is diminished by that or greater significance, that is where I stand. Many HLs in the past, Texas HLs, Coast HLs, Regal HLs, Roundtails and Desert HLs, have been in the pet trade and laws have since been passed to exclude commercial collection and sale of HLs in the pet trade. The only species legal in the pet trade and commercial collection are the Desert HLs and a few Shorthorned lizards from Nevada and the Roundtail HLs from Texas. All others are protected from the pet trade and commercial collection. Declines in wild populations are mainly from development, loss of habitat, use of pesticides, invasion of nonnative species of plants and insects and illegal dumping in protected areas where HLs could be found. The pet trade has had an impact in the past on many species and to deny that is absurd. I am sorry if I ramble, but I see these problems all of the time in the field and in the reports I read for my research. The HLs in the pet trade have an extremely high mortality rate due to the lack of knowledge about HLs and the low success rate in captivity. Lester G. Milroy III

:Loren, thank you for you view. I appreciate the discussion and the information. I do have some reservations on your assumption that commercial collection of HLs has little impact on populations. Commercial collection of HLs does nothing to promote conservation issues and the only data provided is a body count. In 5 years, over 36,000 HLs were collected in Nevada and provided to the pet trade, both foreign and domestic. There is little data to provide demographics or distribution of HLs or the population health. In drought years, such as now, the stress on the populations will be severe and the localized extinction of certain populations will force collectors to expand their reach into other areas where HL populations have been left undisturbed. It is true that when people see the HLs in the pet store they want to get one because they are unique in appearance and it does generate further interest. Many people then want more, and that in turn increases the demand in the pet trade. The profit margin is rather high for the collectors because they not only collect the HLs but other herps too. The HLs have a very high mortality rate in captivity, if not a total mortality rate, but the demand does not decrease. The pet trade and all of the other stresses on HL populations complicates thing more and more each day. I have challenged collectors in the past to only "harvest" from areas where the populations would be lost due to development, but that requires extra work and cooperation between collectors and developers. The old "path of least reseistance" scene. Well, we should discuss more, but I have some reports to write. We can discuss more soon. Lester G. Milroy III

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