Insect Regulations

Neil Jones Neil at
Mon Dec 20 19:21:47 EST 1999

In article <Pine.OSF.4.20.9912191812460.4802-100000 at>
           fnkwp at "Kenelm Philip" writes:

>         I don't think Neil and I really disagree all that much. He chooses
> to emphasize the cases where collecting can damage populations, while I
> prefer to rejoice in the many cases (especially in the North) where col-
> lecting can be carried out safely.

Well you have the luxury of living in a part of the world where the ravages
of modern industrial agriculture have not taken hold yet. NO doubt
monsanto et al will be breeding a bigger brighter bolder strain
of corn that grows on the tundra someday. Then you can look forward
to the same declines the rest of us have suffered. A recent report says that
1 in 8 species of European butterfly is threatened. This is largely the result
of industrialised agriculture. For more details see a press release at 

>         With regard to _B. acrocnema_, two points are worth noting:
> 1) There may be 4 or 5 colonies, rather than 2.

I thought the number known had grown which is why I said 2 or so.
It seemed unlikely that a single colony would be all that had survived
through the centuries. From what is known about fritillary population 
dynamics it is far more likely that a group of colonies would exist.
> 2) This is an endangered species, under ESA, so unpermitted collecting is
> against the law. People who engage in illegal collecting may not be con-
> cerned about the effects on the population, and arguing about ethics will
> not deter them. Arresting them may--but it's difficult to post guards around
> the habitat all summer. Any suggestions?

You could say the same about almost any illegal activity. Murder still carries
the death penalty in some parts of the US. However, people still kill each 
Indeed I think in some parts the murder rate is very very high. The trouble
is people will arm bears! <grin>
(As an aside we still have the death penalty for High Treason and
I believe Userpation of the Royal Arms a rather silly crime of misusing
the coat of arms of the monarch.)

Legal sanctions do have an effect. When they are in effect only those who
are determined law breakers will contravine them. Also it means that trade
which is often the problem is much curtailed.

As for posting a guard, this is done in effect for one butterfly already.
The Palosverdes Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis) survives on
only one site. It is a military Fuel installation in a Los Angeles suburb.
It is the oddest place for a rare butterfly that I have ever encountered.
It is a gorgeous little thing too.

>         I had no intention of restarting the 'collecting debate', which is
> mainly concerned with the _ethics_ of collecting (should one or not?). I
> was merely trying to point out that I disagreed with John Shuey's analysis
> of the _effects_ of taking adults, when talking about healthy populations
> of (most) insects.
>                                                         Ken Philip
> fnkwp at

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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