Killing butterflies and habitat destruction

Neil Jones Neil at
Thu Sep 24 08:57:50 EDT 1998

In message <001601bde79a$d62264c0$bff0ed96 at> "Dave Chesmore" writes:

> I agree entirely with Andrew Torry.

>From what he says, with what sense I can make of it, and from what you say
I see significant differences.

> Legislation is not going to deter people determined to obtain rare species,
> it will only make it more difficult for amateurs and professionals alike to
> collect specimens.

Using that argument legislation does not deter rapists, burgulars, thieves
who are determined to commit a crime. Legislation may not prevent people
from committing a crime but it certainly does have a deterent effect.

> Many Leps-L subscribers know my views on collecting and can find previous
> messages in the archive.  Just to re-iterate - I collect for 2 reasons:
> 1.  I need to have voucher specimens for identification purposes and for
> verification by the county recordersotherwise they won't accept records.

Some county recorders will accept records without specimens. The one in 
my part of the world certainly does. 

> To
> give an example, I found a specimen of Orthoptera in a locality north of the
> river Ouse in Yorkshire this year which hasn't been found anywhere north of
> the river Humber/Ouse for well over 100 years.  Who would believe me if I
> had not taken the specimen and sent it to be verified?

It actually depends on who you are and your reputation as to whether you
would be believed. If you were the country's most respected expert on 
Orthoptera then you would be believed on the basis of your reputation.
It seems that you were unsure and kept the specimen to identify.
I am not arguing about this at all. To reiterate my position I do not
believe killing insects is immoral at all. At this moment I have a 
beetle in the freezer which I found wandering around my home.

The "you must always have a voucher specimen" argument is one that really
discredits collectors in the eyes of many people. Even if you have a specimen
it could have been caught anywhere or even bred. It proves nothing.
I have spoken to non-collecting moth enthusiasts about this and their
belief (rightly or wrongly) is that it is just an excuse for forming
a collection. My local moth group were originally mainly birdwatchers and
they are not used to having to produce a voucher specimen for rare birds. 

> 2.  There is no substitute for showing people actual specimens when
> describing insects (or any other animals or plants).  To see something up
> close and be able to look at it through a magnifying glass or microscope is
> a real turn-on for would-be naturalists, especially children.
> Legislation banning collecting without a permit would immediately stop most
> amateur Lepidopterists from pursuing their hobby and then where would all
> the important records come from?  I would guess that many habitats have been
> saved through the knowledge of amateur naturalists.  In my opinion
> anti-collecting legislation would be deterimental to habitat preservation.

I agree absolutely. It would stop people carrying nets as I do, but we do need
legislation targeted at rare species and their habitats.

> Dr David Chesmore, FRES
> Control & Intelligent Systems Engineering Group
> School of Engineering
> Faculty of Engineering & Mathematics
> University of Hull
> Hull, HU6 7RX
> England
> tel/fax: +1482 465062
> message pager:  07654 266522

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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