Butterflies (3 spp.) and the F&WS

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Tue Sep 4 15:56:53 EDT 2001

Neil Jones wrote:

< some really interesting stuff on the life cycle of Euphydryas>

and then provided

<some data purportedly verifying the susceptibility of Euphydryas to
extinction due to overcollecting>

He also said,

> The second reason why, I believe, the USFWS is worried about 
> overcollection
> Over the years there have been people prepared to defend even 
> the worst
> and craziest philatelic collectors. Conswequently it is 
> hardly surprising that people
> are worried.

There are just as many, if not more, people on this list who worry about an
entirely different evil.

I find it increasingly difficult to respect laws that are supposed to be
protecting species, when they fail to accomplish their goal.  When you
suggest that overcollecting (or human predation, or whatever else you want
to call it) might be the underlying cause for the elimination of a species
(or sub-species), you are seriously downplaying the role played by habitat
fragmentation and destruction.  You are wrongly shifting the focus away from
this obvious problem, and onto the notorious butterfly collector.  The
result is an intoxication of the public which lullabies them into thinking
that as long as the collectors are at bay, the beautiful butterflies are
safe.  The reality is that 99% of the butterflies are safe anyway, and the
other 1% are doomed because their habitat requirements are no longer met -
be it due to human or environmental pressures.  I don't disagree that there
are many cases of "endangered" lepidopteron colonies throughout even
unpopulated areas.  I don't disagree that local populations under
significant threat should potentially be controlled.  But please, let's
first secure the necessary habitat and give both the leps and the collectors
a chance.

I'd like to think that El Segundo is an example of where listing has worked.
On the other hand, I don't have a lot of confidence that that property is
sheltered enough from real estate valuation, nor am I convinced that it's
large enough to allow for the various normal spatial fluctuations that you
yourself describe.

Mark Walker



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