ads for livestock, etc, etc

Doug Yanega dyanega at
Thu Sep 17 11:00:21 EDT 1998

>However birdkeeping, fishkeeping and other hobbies are also under attack by the
>same forces & animal rights activists and greenies.
>The situation is that there is precious little to do as a hobby today because
>of ever increasing encroachment on good wholesome productive activities.

Politely put, this is a crock. I started collecting insects for a hobby
when I was 5, and it eventually became a career. I *never* bought an
insect, alive or dead, in the 32 years I've collected. You are dead wrong
that being unable to buy insects prevents a person from enjoying the hobby.
Bottom line.
        And if you are so convinced that trade in live exotic species is
"wholesome", can you tell us what is so wholesome about things like the
Florida Everglades being packed with Oscars and other exotic fish that
hobbyists released there, about the ecological damage being done by purple
loosestrife and a truckload of other exotic pests that have wreaked havoc
around the globe, and can be traced to people who thought they were doing
something good, wholesome, and productive.
        Think of it this way: if you had to sign a contract every time you
bought a live exotic plant or animal, promising that you would pay your
personal share if that species ever got loose and started incurring public
costs, would you still take that risk? Would you continue with your
"wholesome" activities if they had the possibility of putting YOU in the
poorhouse, instead of the farmer next door, or of wiping out irreplaceable
ecosystems, communities, or species?
        This is not about tree-hugging, warm fuzzies, animal rights,
greenies, or any other such - this is about ETHICS - a matter of a few
people taking enormous risks with the common heritage of mankind (case in
point, the Florida Everglades) for which they would not have to suffer the
consequences. YES, I recognize that habitat destruction is a bigger threat
to most native species than the introduction of exotics - but that doesn't
mean we shouldn't guard against the possible introduction of more pests
which just make things worse! YES, I recognize that some of these pests
were brought in by government officials who should have known better, or
private individuals looking to make a profit (a la Nutria) - but just
because other people do stupid things doesn't justify anyone else following
suit. YES, I recognize that there are really VERY few people (from a global
perspective) buying and selling exotics, that not everyone buying exotics
will have them in numbers where it is even *possible* for a fertile
individual to escape, or be buying species which could possibly survive
*if* they escaped, but in the end you still cannot deny the appalling
potential for "harmless" hobbies to lead to ecological tragedies. It has
happened before, it can happen again, simple as that. I don't like gambling
when the stakes are so high.
        You, personally, might be the kind of responsible hobbyist who is
aware of the risks and could be trusted not to do anything foolish,
careless, or unethical (and, frankly, good for you if so), but can you also
offer a guarantee that EVERY OTHER hobbyist out there is just as
responsible as you are?? If you cannot offer such a guarantee, then why do
you complain when someone suggests that something should be done to help
avoid irresponsible and unethical activities? You should be *cooperating*
to ensure that the activities you love are not put at risk due to
OVER-regulation. If you, the hobbyists, cannot offer and promote concrete,
*constructive* suggestions as to ways to minimize the risks associated with
such activities, then you should not be surprised or offended when some
institution like the USDA or USFWS takes a heavy-handed approach to the
problem. Give them a better alternative if you can, but pretending there
*IS* no problem is unrealistic; asking for *complete* freedom to do what
you want is TOO much. If you won't budge from that position, then you'll
never be satisfied.
        I can guess who are likely to submit the first three or four flame
responses to this, and since they have evidently misunderstood most of what
I've said in the past, I'll make this all explicit in hopes of avoiding
such flames this time around: I have NO PROBLEM with responsible trade in
exotic reared material - but I also do not believe that *every* individual
who is engaged in such trade *is* responsible, and accordingly the only
proper thing to do is work to put safeguards in place that can permit the
hobby to continue while minimizing the dangers. If the *only* thing you
consider acceptable is total freedom, I will never agree with you; I would
sooner see all trade (both commercial and private) banned than accept that
- we are driving enough things to extinction as is, without doing things to
compound the problem. But, that being said, I would *vastly* prefer
properly controlled trade to a total ban. Do you understand now? There has
to be a compromise possible between complete freedom and complete
suppression, and if you are convinced that I am pro-suppression, simply
because I don't believe that total freedom is a viable alternative, then
you haven't been paying attention.


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: 31-499-2579, fax: 31-499-2567  (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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