Neil's dissertation

Mark Walker mwalker at
Wed Sep 3 14:19:14 EDT 1997

Thanks for the repost Neil, I must have missed it before.  I do, however, have
a few comments:

First of all, none in this forum would argue that it is impossible for a human
being with a net and a killing jar to _accidentally_ or otherwise terminate the
last of a species of Lepidoptera.  The likelihood of this happening, however,
is very small if the status of the species is unknown.  The collector, if they
were interested in making money, would fair better purchasing a lottery ticket.
 Even in such cases, the collecting activity can hardly be blamed for the
extirpation/extinction.  Far more despicable behavior must have preceded it,
the least not being the failure to collect sufficient scientific data on the
species in the first place.

For a listed species, any collecting would be a criminal act - and one which
would require deliberation and foreknowledge.  In El Segundo, CA. chain link
fences would have to be overcome.  The act would be in direct violation of any
Entomological Society's collecting code of conduct, and really doesn't belong
in this discussion.  I certainly hope you are not generalizing all collectors
based on the actions of an extreme few.  I further hope you are not suggesting
that it would be appropriate to restrict the rights of collectors based on the
actions of an extreme few (and any emotional bias you may have developed).

Your final paragraph was:

>  The fact that there are individuals around who will put their own
> personal desires above the right of a species to exist is further evidence
> to indicate that it is necessary, in the case of endangered species, to
> prevent human predation in addition to conserving the habitat.

I'm not sure what you are saying here.  If you are saying that the collecting
of endangered species should be outlawed, then noone is arguing.  If you are
saying that because of endangered species, all collecting should be prevented,
then hang on because that won't come without serious (and equally emotional)
opposition.  There is ample scientific evidence to justify and permit the
collecting of unlisted invertebrates.  This may seem barbaric to some, and
noone is forcing anyone to participate.  Humble introspection is in order when
suggesting that _collecting_ is the principal activity which places the desires
of some over the _right_ of invertebrate species to exist.  We all participate
in this _unethical_ activity by virtue of our participation in modern society. 
The products we buy, the low pricing we demand, the _freedoms_ we expect (like
visiting National Parks), the waste removal we take for granted - there isn't a
single aspect of our lives which doesn't contribute in a significant way to the
demise of our vertebrate and invertebrate friends alike (our computers, the
energy they run on, and the buildings we reside in while using them are just a
few examples).  And in the case of the insect species, there are many, many,
many other activities we engage in on a daily basis that result in orders of
magnitude more casualties than collecting, and yet I don't see anyone being
forced to hide their automobiles (just to name one).  In short, we really
shouldn't throw any stones - lest we be guilty of placing our OWN personal
desires over an other's right to pursue happiness.

Mark Walker.

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