"Federal Permits"

Mark Walker mwalker at aisvt.bfg.com
Wed Aug 27 10:06:02 EDT 1997

The following are editorial comments on the subject of "Federal Permits" and
the basic rules associated with "collecting" within National Parks (as recently
summarized by our tundra-bound colleague Ken).  I've got several problems with
this trend of regulation, some are selfishly motivated, but others are
motivated by common sense and a dislike for unnecessary bureaucracy.  I mean,
the most likely candidates for being in violation of the _spirit_ of these
rules are those folks least likely to be aware of them in the first place.  I'm
talking about the visitor general, the one wearing Bermuda shorts, carrying a
disposable camera, and looking for McDonalds.  These are the folks who are
likely to walk away carrying a piece of the park with them (leaving a trail of
refuse and damaged habitat behind).  What good are these rules for this type of
violator?  A simple "Do not feed the bears" sign and a "don't let it happen
again" is all the prevention and enforcement required.  The average
collector/researcher (which is a mean from a very small sample size to begin
with) on the other hand is already in tune with the spirit of these rules.  In
fact, it was probably they who framed them to begin with (notice I didn't say
defined).  Anyway, in this light I offer the following comments:

> 	All specimens to remain the property of the National Park Service,
> regardless of where they are deposited.

This rule, and the next one, seem to be a reasonable requirement.  It is a
public reserve and all, so I suppose it only fair that the public retain
_possession_.  Again, it's the RV-bound booty that should really be the
concern.  Who's going to get all of those tent-flattened earwigs and
daddy-longlegs back into the park?  At least the squished mosquitoes generally
don't cross park boundaries - but we really should define a more humane way to
eliminate them.

> 	Specimens to be deposited in a public institution.

See above.

> 	Collecting to be done out of sight of visitors.

Duh.  The visitors are often more militant than any park ranger or wildlife
officer and are operating on misinformation.  Besides, collecting is a personal
and meditative thing - like fishing or running.  I, personally, find myself
talking to the bugs as they elude me.  I don't need spectators listening and
watching some of the truly ungraceful choreography.  Anyway, the collector has
already been driven to discretion, sneaking around like a common criminal. 
Crowds are no fun anyway.

> 	Valid research needs for collecting (some parks may require an
> actual research proposal).

There's just not enough grassroots-based research going on anymore.  You know,
the kind that starts with some backyard observation and blossoms into a love
and passion for those things wild and alive in the environment around us.  The
kind that is motivated by a desire to know and not a desire for federal grant
money.  The kind that comes from an 8-year old child.  I wonder how many of the
entomologists on this list got started this way?  How many of the park service
employees?  Not enough of the law makers, I'm afraid.

> 	Compliance with various restrictions for wilderness areas, such
> as having to move your remote camp every few days to avoid impact on the
> ground cover.

Again, a rule which preaches to the choir.  The average hunter/collector is an
outdoorsperson - especially sensitive to the sensitivity of the habitat around
them.  This rule is an insult.

> 	Providing a detailed inventory of all specimens collected, which
> could involve a lot of paperwork.

Most collectors I know do this anyway.  But they do it for the right reasons,
not because a hoop exists through which they must jump.

> 	Satisfying the Resource Manager that there will no adverse impact
> on population levels from your collecting.

I'm not really sure what the function of this position is, but if it includes
the management of bug species, then I would assume the Manager would likely be
too busy out collecting him/her self.  If the manager is too busy reviewing
bureaucracy, then the collector is the only one in touch with the reality
pertinent to management anyway.  In this scenario, shouldn't we really inform
the Manager only when a reduction or unusual trend is observed (since the
wording of the rule above implies that they wouldn't recognize it to begin

In closing, I guess the bottom line is the Kenelm is right in saying we're
better off not collecting in these areas.  I just wish I could say that it was
for a good reason.

Mark Walker.

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