law news and legalese

Doug Yanega dyanega at
Wed Aug 27 18:40:40 EDT 1997

Trying not to drag this out indefinitely, but still not sure I've made my
stance clear...

Mark wrote:

>Jumping to the conclusion that he runs a clearing house in Italy is by far the
>more presumptuous (and ludicrous) conclusion, yet the one implied by the cited

Actually, I must have missed that, if that was part of the case - and
you'll note that I didn't state that this would *necessarily* be taken as
any reason for making a distinction. While we, as biologists, might be able
to see a way to analyze such things on a case-by-case basis, just try (a)
getting a genuine consensus on biological ethics even from listmembers here
and (b) translating any such consensus into an unambiguous set of
guidelines and regulations that can adequately protect the resources we
treasure while still allowing for easy enforcement and continued enjoyment
by the majority of the public. There may simply not *be* a happy medium.

>And we prosecuted on account of a hype that is not
>substantiated - and that is that the Mr. T's of the world are depleting the Lep
>population to the point of extinction.

If that is the justification for the regulation, then I would agree it's
absurd - but these are certainly not new or taxon-specific rules (that one
cannot collect butterflies in National Parks without permits), and the
Lacey Act was certainly not formulated to protect dwindling Lepidopteran
numbers. I don't think the rules that were broken owe their existence in
any way to the hype you refer to.

>Your fear of depleted wilderness does not justify the treatment of
>Mr. T.  He is contributing no more and no less than you or I to the rate of
>destruction of the natural areas.  Prosecuting the Barney's and Muriel's in
>their Bermuda shorts is not effective legislation.

Agreeing with you in principle, and trying to see a practical solution are
different things, and I hope you see that I am not trying to argue with
your philosophy. I am saying that it is a tragedy that it should require
laws to keep people from pilfering our natural heritage one little piece at
a time, but it *is* required - if we don't have such legislation, or never
enforce it, then there WILL be unscrupulous individuals who interpret it as
open season for them, a chance to make a profit at everyone else's expense.
If Colorado Hairstreaks were worth $500 apiece, do you really think they'd
last long without protection? My questions about whether it is different to
dig up wildflowers or fossils or arrowheads or petrified wood, etc. are
*exactly* part of the practical reality. While *we* may see a distinction
between butterflies and fossils, trying to turn that into a logical,
non-arbitrary, loophole-free set of regulations is not likely to happen.

>If  Barney and Mr. T. are not responsible enough to
>visit these areas, then either are you or I.

You honestly don't think some people are more responsible than others? This
would seem to be a hard viewpoint to justify. Why do we have laws in the
first place? Legal drinking ages? Legal driving ages? Speed limits? Traffic
signals? It certainly can't be that simple. The "tragedy of the commons"
would never exist if everyone were truly responsible.

> Would you be so outspoken to
>protect areas that you will never be permitted to enjoy?

You betcha. But I most assuredly hope it NEVER comes to that sort of decision.

>Selfishly, the thought of never again enjoying the lands that I love so much to
>roam is precisely why I fight development in the first place.

Me, I fight because I believe all living species have a right to exist.
Utilitarian values, including personal enjoyment, aren't adequate
justification. Heck, I'll never get to visit the moon, but that doesn't
mean I'd be quiet if someone wanted to carve it up and sell the pieces as

>By the way - I'd love to collect down in your neck of the woods...

Actually, about all we've got right here that's really interesting are the
skippers. Not all that much diversity in the rest of the macroleps - this
ain't the Amazon, not by a long shot. If you want monarchs, queens,
buckeyes, painted ladies, thoas and pipevine swallowtails, though, this is
a fine place for them.


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 031-448-1223, fax: 031-44-5481  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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