NOT the collecting debate :-)

Chris Raper triocomp at
Tue Jun 22 08:29:29 EDT 1999

On 21 Jun 1999 11:55:30 -0700, viceroy at (Anne Kilmer) wrote:

Hi Anne

>Don't forget us inept zoo-keepers. I kept my little victims in jamjars
>and fed them inappropriately until they passed to the great beyond. 

Mmm - been there, seen it, killed it... One of the reasons I gave up
trying to rear insects and took up trying to conserve them! :-)

>that troubles me, for how will a child
>come to love snakes unless he can keep snakes? 

Well, I don't know that I'm with you on that one. I think there are
plenty of good reasons for not keeping snakes - and I have met several
keen herpetologists (sp?) who just got interested in them as kids and
then went on to study them. You also don't have to get all that close
to identify them - in most cases :-)

>Do they get to collect butterflies because they're pretty? 

For kids I think that is fine - as long as an adult makes sure they
aren't catching anthing _really_ rare. My point about collecting is
that grown-ups who can reliably ID a species in the field shouldn't
need to collect it - be that a butterfly or a beetle or whatever -
unless a voucher may be required to back up an important ID.

>Is it OK to make coffee tables with butterflies under glass? 

For me - no. The use of wild-caught butterflies for pure decoration
smacks of the use of wild animal furs, feathers etc. If the animals in
question are farmed then it makes the question less clear cut but wild
stuff should be left alone unless there is a very good reason for
taking it.

>Is there a significant difference between collecting farmed butterflies, 

Certainly - for me anyway. I don't have a problem with the morality of
killing one or two insects for scientific study, which in turn will
benefit the species as a whole. As far as I'm concerned, if you follow
the ethos that all living things are sacred and you have a problem
with killing anything then that is your business. :-)

>butterflies caught in "hunting preserves," or butterflies dancing about 
>in untamed meadows? 

I'm not sure we have any 'hunting preserves' for butterflies over here
in the UK, so I don't have any info to base an opinion on. If the
killing of the animals wasn't going to affect wild populations in any
way and the money gained from the enterprise was put back into
conservation work then it would be easier to justify.

>Is a serious entomologist more valuable than (say) an artist inspired by
>a butterfly he bought in a shop? 

No - they are just different. The inspired person who likes to watch
butterflies is likely to give money to organisations that support
butterfly conservation, which is very valuable. But without the
serious entomologist, who can give the conservationists information
about what they have on their sites and what their requirements are,
the conservationists are in the dark.

>And I agree ... we don't hear anybody complaining about folks running
>after moths with nets ... 

Of course - and similar to the 'fur & feather' syndrome. People will
give money for Pandas, rare Eagles, Whales etc - but if you want to
save a rare beetle you had better find something with fur & big brown
eyes on the same site - otherwise you won't get a penny!

Best wishes,
Chris R.

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