museum 'poachers'

Martin Bailey cmbb at
Tue Apr 9 20:30:52 EDT 2002

James Kruse, PhD.:

> Talk about conspiracy theories and black helicopters...
> It is "funny" how many people believe that if a museum hears of your rare
> sighting, they dispatch the 'killing team' to take care of business. When
> birds from the Palaearctic stray to Alaska, many birders flock up to see
> them. The museum always gets calls from these folks asking if the bird is
> "still there or did the museum collect it yet?"! As far as I know, the
> museum ornithologists are not sneaking over to people's houses and
> birds off their feeders. On the other hand, serious "life-list birders"
> clearly are not so inhibited, since every time one of these rare birds
> up in town, hundreds of people fly up from all over the U.S. and Canada
> invade private property to get a look/picture for their life lists. Yes,
> first couple of them ask permission, but then the rest show up and hang
> for days or weeks.
> Speaking for myself, I am not trolling the net for lepidopteran species on
> my "list" and then traveling across the country and trampling anyone's
> butterfly garden to collect (or get a photo). I think a more valid concern
> is that every time you post to a list-serve, someone collects your email
> send you spam later.

Terribly sorry but I must  persist. (A sure sign of paranoia!)

I do know of a case where a bird that was not suppose to be here was sighted
on a pond not too far out of town.  The boys from the museum, with guns in
hand, scurried out to collect the species.  They missed.

Far more saddening was the case of a museum staff member who traded in
mammal skulls. (I hope that you can appreciate that I am not willing to give
actual details.)

The professional hobbiest was convicted for dealing in  endangered species.
(Rare collectors' items, those skulls.)  However, his union stood behind him
against management's "attempts"  to fire  him.  He still works at the same

While I will agree with you that the second example that I present is an
aberration, the first one is not.

So I pose this question to you:  Why must you add to your collection
specimens that you will never get enough examples of to make meaningful
comparative analyses? Where the addition of that specimen to your collection
will not advance our knowledge of the species in question.

Martin Bailey,

greetings from:  Weyburn, SK., Canada.
                         49.39N  103.51W


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