pneumonia, gnats and camels

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Fri Jan 11 15:25:41 EST 2002

Kenelm Philip wrote:

big snip

> I suspect that one reason that collecting gets blamed so often (by
> some people) for damage to butterfly populations is purely political, as
> follows: people always want to be seen as doing _something_ about
> problems. Land developers are wealthy, and their projects produce tax
> revenue and employment, while butterfly collectors are few, and have no
> political clout. Guess which group will get blamed publicly for any
> in butterfly numbers, and will be the target of regulations? (I'm not
> ting after Neil here--he's clearly aware of what developers do!)
> Ken Philip
> fnkwp at

....clearly aware of what developers do.   Yes, but a great many people are
_not_ clearly aware of what lepidopterists (collectors) _don't_ do.  They
do not exterminate  populations.  I've preached a fair number of funerals
in the last 30 years.  In most cases the people died of pneumonia.  Yup,
that is what the death certificate said.  Cause of death: pneumonia.  Now
these people went into the hospital with cancer, stroke,  AIDS, all kinds
of things.  Someone should do a taxpayer funded research project to simply
examine all death certificates in the last 20 years in the US and upon
finding that Pneumonia is by far the number one killer -- to then go after
it -- forget about cancer and stroke.    The persons who caught the last
Xerces or last New Forest Burnet may have been  unethical or jerks, but
they are not the _reason_ these things are now extinct.  The reason stuff
is extinct is because all of us are living and working in facilities built
on their former habitat.  It is real easy to fill in a line on a death
certificate -- last breath (specimen) taken away by pneumonia (a collector)
and real easy to point fingers away from our own culpability by the very
houses, yards, estates, subdivisions we humans love so much.  We don't seem
to like to live underground - though that is now probably the best place
for us relative to the rest of the natural world.

Ron Gatrelle

PS  All examples and editorials have there flaws.  Some things like the
passenger pigeon are very much directly related to human over kill.  It is
also true however that the passenger pigeon was unique in that it only
(could?) existed in very large social flocks.  So part of that situation
was its unique requirements.  I am just saying that collectors/hunters are
only a tiny tiny factor in the overall picture. So to continually focus on
them, as some _seem_ to always do, is truly straining at gnats and
swallowing camels.


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