Killing butterflies and habitat destruction

Neil Jones Neil at
Thu Sep 24 04:51:33 EDT 1998

In message <Pine.OSF.3.96.980923222014.30053A-100000 at> Kenelm Philip writes:
> > If we are to achieve the conservation of _any_ species it is necessary to
> > convince the people of the area where it occurs to look after it.
> > You cannot do this if you also argue that it is permissable to kill it for
> > fun.
> Society has produced another model for preserving species, which violates
> Neil's rule: hunting. Here various animals are indeed preserved, yet people
> regularly kill them for fun. Not that I think most lepidopterists would
> enjoy having to pay for and take out a hunting license in each state they
> planned to collect--but it is clearly possible to preserve habitat and
> its occupants while allowing killing of some of those occupants.

There are cultiral differences here. Hunting like that is far less popular
here. Indeed if one were to speak about hunting in a UK context most people
would think of fox hunting. The cultural differences here are extreme, having
spoken to my local Badger people about the kinds of people who are
associated with this practice, I would agree with Oscar Wilde's definition
of them being "The unspeakable in full persuit of the uneatable."
(Those convicted of badger bating here are often shown to be the terrier men
associated with fox hunting.) Wilde's definition does not apply to the kinds
of people who persue hunting in the American context.
Fox hunting is extremely unpopular with the population here. I seem to recall
that 85% are against it.
Similiarly guns are not popular here. Indeed most are banned nearly completely
after a crazed paedophile ran amok in an an infants school (Kindergarten) in 
Dunblane. This ban happened with almost universal public support.

> 	The U.S., however, seems to be travelling along Neil's road. Allow
> unrestricted destruction of habitat (and collecting) until the species
> involved is endangered--then declare it endangered and ban collecting as
> well as (hopefully) further habitat destruction. (Not that I mean Neil
> approves of the first part of this scenario!) With suficient, and well-
> informed, public interest, I see no reason why we cannot have both habitat
> preservation _and_ reasonably unrestricted collecting. Neil remarks that
> some collectors will overcollect rare species--but the means to protect
> these is available provided that society will preserve their _habitat_
> rather then simply banning collecting and then looking the other way.

The hunting approach may work for the large animals that people like to eat
but it hasn't worked for things like the Northern Spotted Owl or the 
black footed ferret. The problem is that in many parts of the world
things are endangered because they have lost their habitats. This is a fact.
Yes, it would have been better to act earlier and I would recommend this
principle for species in decline now but we have to act according to the 
current circumstances. 

I would like to see butterflies as popular as birds. Here in the UK the
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has over 1 MILLION members.
That is 2% of the population! Imagine the problems if the US had
5 million people all wanting a specimen of some localised lepidopteron.

If were are to achieve habitat protection it is necessary to get a lot
of people interested in the issue. This cannot be done by making them
collectors. This is not the same as banning collecting. Banning collecting
would be incompatible with this as keen lepidopterists need to carry nets
in order to identify things, whether they are killing them or not.

Neil Jones- Neil at
"At some point I had to stand up and be counted. Who speaks for the
butterflies?" Andrew Lees - The quotation on his memorial at Crymlyn Bog
National Nature Reserve

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