bounties for tagged specimens

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Tue Oct 10 06:45:49 EDT 2000

Ron is absolutely right. Offering a bounty for recovered Monarch tags 
would have a high likelihood of being catastrophic unless there was some 
very compelling offset. 

Many years ago a Canadian trapper proudly delivered over 100 bird bands 
to the Canadian Wildlife Service. They were from Evening Grosbeaks that 
he had baited and killed in anticipation of a reward.

We have had our own experience.  When we were banding Common Terns and 
Roseate Terns , we began getting a lot of band returns from Guyana, 
where schoolboys trapped the terns for food.  Once we knew that the 
terns went there in numbers the value of future band returns was 
negliglbe (and it turned out misleading, since the bulk of the terns 
actually wintered much further south where there were no hunters). 

Although the young men claimed that they released any tern that wore a 
band, it was surprising that we never retrapped one of their 
"sighting/released" birds, whereas about 4% of the terns overall would 
be retrapped in subsequent seasons.  

There was discussion involving the Bird Banding Lab and the few of 
us who banded terns, about simply buying out the boys by giving them 
"scholarships", and in correspondence one of the bird trappers confirmed 
that he was trapping birds to earn money for school. However, on a visit 
to Guyana it turned out that a lot more boys had suddenly becomewere 
interested in trapping terns in order to get scholarships.   Eventually 
no scholarships were offered, but the damage had been done.  There are 
now more trappers, and to boot, there are no more band returns coming 
from the Guyana trappers.  

The lure or promise of financial incentive for band returns CAN have 
serious repercussions, and we should always be alert to unanticipated 
outcomes from well-intentioned plans. 

I think it is crucial that the Monarch roosts be protected by providing 
some economic incentives. I have thought that ecotourism is the way to 
go, but if the Galapagos is any lesson, if ecotourism takes off in a 
bigger way, more people will flock to the area to exploit the tourist 
resource. Thus the benefit to current "locals" will be diluted.

It sounds to me like land purchase and wardening have to be considered. 
Maybe a group like RARE which buys land in Central America, is needed. 

Mike Gochfeld  

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