Snake Articles (mostly Cadmium Morph news)

The articles on this page will cover my Cadmium Morph breeding project as well as other snake related experiences I have.

My ethical choices and failures with regards to nature: Part 1

Talking about ethics is a sure fire way to expose yourself as a hypocrite. Over my next few posts I want to hit on what I think is right and wrong and how I have decided to interact with the natural world around me. Be patient, this is a lot of stuff.

I wanted to start with a definition of how the average person views nature, but I now realize I can only imagine what that is. I have spent 40 years watching the people and wildlife around me and I am still utterly confused by at least the people half. I really don’t understand what’s going on in the mind of the average suburbanite but I can guess what a lizard is thinking. So I may not be the best person to try to plot the modern first world human base line in relationship to the natural world. So, with discretion being the better part of valor, I’ll save that for a future post. Instead let's start with something more technical:

Dealing with the Natural World:              IT’S THE LAW!!!!!

What’s more relaxing than a nice early morning walk in the woods? Nothing as long as you aren’t in danger from hunters or trespassing on private property or disrupting some rare bird’s migration pattern with your mere presence! I’m being dramatic but before you go into nature you are duty bound by the unspoken rules of our polite society to familiarize yourself with the laws of your area with regards to public land use, private property rights, anti-littering practices and wildlife regulations. It’s your responsibility to follow the laws so that we don’t trample on other people’s right and we don’t destroy the natural world we are trying to enjoy! That sounded kind of hokey. Let me try this again. Most laws are design to act as rules that control or modify our behavior. The goal is to get a desired effect or avoid an unwanted problem by making everyone play by the rules. If everyone plays by the rules the game is supposed to be more fun for all of us. Quite screwing it up for everyone else you inconsiderate, trespassing, litter bug! When it comes to nature we assume the laws are written by people who study and want to protect nature. Their goal is to let the natural world carry on with minimal damage caused by us so we can learn from and enjoy the natural world around us. Listen to me, pretending like I know what is in the hearts and minds of faceless bureaucrats and self absorbed petty functionaries with tedious government jobs. Way to go, Mike, you were almost positive!

In this vein, here’s a neat story about the law and wildlife in my home state, Texas. When I started raising snakes, many moons ago, I was catching, observing and photographing many of the animals in my area. I didn’t keep most of them but I learned a lot first hand. I read up on the laws and made a point to get the proper permit to prevent any misunderstanding with the game wardens. They have their hands full with year round hunting and fishing enforcement. They don’t need to be trying to figure out how many of what kind of snake I have and if it was wild caught or captive bred. So back in 2006 I received a survey about upcoming changes to the way Texas regulates non-game animals. Prior to 2007 all animals either fell into “Protected”, “Game” or “Non-Game” categories and while the laws for “Protected” and “Game” where pretty intense, the laws for “Non-Game” were fairly succinct (albeit a little confusing). You were allowed to catch and keep a maximum number (I want to say 6) of any one species of non-game animals, and a total aggregate number (I think it was 25) of all species combined as long as you didn’t sell them. If you wanted to keep more you needed a non-game permit (license #548) and if you wanted to sell them you needed the commercial version (this requires an application and record keeping).  There was some more stuff about who could sell/trade what to whom but, moving on.

The new laws broke the non-game animals up into a white list and a black list.

The black list is a No sale/trade list design to remove these animals from commercial markets. You can now keep up to 6 animals from the black list privately but there is no permit to keep more or buy/sell/trade them. From the white list you can keep up to 25 animals without a permit. If you wanted to keep more or buy/sell/trade them you need the appropriate license. It’s not a bad design but I’m not convinced it works the way the lawmakers said they wanted it to (They were mainly worried about turtles and I think that part has worked but if it’s helping other animals, I do not know.)

non game permit info

the NARBC has a nice summary on their page

They also made some changes back then about exotic animals and basically banned roadside herp collecting which only last 4 years before they corrected that little boo-boo. (Both topics for another day)

Remember that survey I mentioned? Well, I filled mine out and sent it in and got a letter back several weeks later. {here's the .pdf scan} if you want to read a long boring synopsis that basically says “save the turtles” Who doesn’t want to save the turtles?  (Based on the report: China) The thing that got me in this report was the following: Here it is online somewhere around page 40

“The department sent surveys to all 331 persons currently holding a non-game or non-game dealer permit…..Response to the Survey was voluntary. A total of 64 persons responded to the survey.21 Identified themselves as hobbyists who do not collect for sale.”

By comparison in 2013-2014 there were over 24 million people in Texas and 2.5 million of them bought hunting/fishing licenses. That’s 10% compared to my .0014%

 The sad thing is that of 331 people asked to help shape the laws that they are willfully and consciously following by buying a permit, less than 20% bothered to respond. If you factor out the 44 commercial licensees then you get 287 non-game permit holders, like me, of which only 21 responded. Now we’re down to 7%.

These are people who had to do the research to get the permit. They made the effort to participate in the law right up to the point where they could have an actual voice. Before I get on my soap box, the point of the first several pages of the report is that there is minimal economic effect to helping the turtles. They didn’t cost the government any real $$ by changing the law. I appreciate the better organization of wildlife but I don’t think the people following the law were doing much damage. Regardless, ITS’ THE LAW!!! I follow it best I can.

Next time I’ll actually try to get to something ethical.