HOUSE RESOLUTION 1467 PASSED the US House of Representatives
without an amendment which would have postponed the use
of TEDs in the Gulf of Mexico! (My poll watcher reports 270
to 147.) Several congressmen delivered impassioned speeches
against "gutting" the Endangered Species Act. One said that
we did not inherit the Earth from our grandparents, but
borrowed it from our children. Letters and calls can make the
difference with our elected officials!
ELEVEN STATES HAVE PASSED LAWS prohibiting 6 pack rings which
are not biodegradable (OR, AK, CA, CT, DE, ME, MA, NJ, NY, RI
& VT). Plastic of all kinds has become a major threat to
marine life. Ten bills have been introduced into the 100th
Congress which propose control of plastic pollution problems
and producers. You can write the Center for Environmental
Education, 1725 DeSales St., NW, #500, Washington, DC 20036
for more information on entanglement and sea turtles.
EARTHWATCH OFFERS THREE HERPETOLOGICAL ADVENTURES working
with Leatherback Turtles in the Virgin Islands, Mexican
side-blotched lizards in Sonora, and thermoregulation of
chuckwallas in southern California. For more information
contact EARTHWATCH, 680 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, MA 02272.
SURPRISE ON A DEALER'S PRICE LISTBeing the conservation
kind, I always worry when I get flyers. It seems as though
some folks don't always read the fine print of the law, but
whether they can't read or don't care has never been clear.
However, I received a price list which says "100% legal with
all paperwork" for special critters. THANKS FOR CARING!
CATHOLIC TURTLES MUST HAVE A HARD LIFE A recent photo in the
Chicago Catholic newspaper shows a nun and two students
prodding turtles through a maze with what look like teachers
pointers. The caption reads "one of the highlights of the
recent bazaar hosted by the Little Sisters of the Poor..."
cite page 6, October 23, 1987 issue.
A LOCAL MAN IS UNDER INDICTMENT for dumping 6,000 gallons of
gasoline into the Glen Ellyn storm sewer which risked a sewer
explosion and endangered lives. An 1981 incident caused $20
million in damage. The local and state police, the attorney
general's office and the IL Environmental Protection Agency
had investigated the matter. Let's try to get the dumping of
gasoline, period, outlawed for health and safety reasons. I
know a few snakes who would sleep better for it!
BOB SCHOELKOPF HAD AN UNEXPECTED TRIP TO FLORIDA! A Kemp's
Ridley turtle was discovered in an intake pipe of the Salem
nuclear power plant two months ago. Since only authorized
people can handle endangered, stranded animals, Bob (and the
turtle) flew to Florida for its release. Was it smiling?
A POPULATION OF HYLA GRATIOSA was found in Delaware at the
Ashland Nature Center. Jim White describes its call as
closely resembling the bark of a German shepherd. The Field
Guide has an "x" in the Chesapeake Bay area, but the frogs are
more commonly found in fresh water swampy areas on the lower
east coast and Florida.
WORK BEGAN IN EARLY NOVEMBER ON NEW SALAMANDER TUNNELS in
Amherst, MA. Mike Redmer, a particularly active CHS member
wrote: Recently you mentioned the plan by Amhurst officials
to install an under-road tunnel for spotted salamanders to
use during their spring migrations. NBC's Sunday Night News,
Nov. 11, 1987, did a spot (no pun intended) on the tunnels
which were donated by Mr. Willard Rose, President of
Aco-polymer Products, Inc., and self-proclaimed "Salamander
Subway King." The whole system is quite interesting. A fence
is used to channel the salamanders to the tunnels which have
large air vents on top. These are believed to permit the
salamanders to see the stars and "navigate" their way through
the tunnel. Cheers!" Thanks, Mike. I only wonder if the
holes in the top will let in road salt or automobile crud as
well as starlight. Does anybody out there know????
FASHION CROC VS. CAIMAN CONSERVATION was highlighted in a
paper presented at the SSAR/HL & Comite Herpetologico National
Meeting in Veracruz, Mexico. Also, Richard Byles of the US
Fish and Wildlife Service reported the development of a
satellite-sea turtle biotelemetry system. 25 Kemp's ridley
sea turtles will be fitted with the transmitters during the
1988 nesting season and monitored for a year.
ENDANGERED SPECIES UNIT NOW EXTINCT It was merged with the
Ecological Services Division of the Interior Department's Fish
and Wildlife Service. It is unknown whether the change will
have any effect on the managing of endangered species. FWS
said the move would make the program more efficient. It is
possible that being a part of the Interior Department and not
being an autonomous unit will diminish the effect of the
department in reviewing or blocking dam or road building
IRVING LEPSELTER OF NEW YORK WROTE THE NY TIMES about an
experiment. "Day One - Made loud noise behind frog. Frog
jumped 15 feet. Day Two - Immobilized one hind leg of frog;
then made same loud noise as on Day One. Frog jumped only 3
feet. Day Three - Immobilized both hind legs of frog, then
made many loud noises, louder than on Days One and Two. Frog
did not jump at all. Conclusion: When both hind legs of a
frog are immobilized, it becomes deaf." In other words, the
moral of the story is you can't leap to conclusions.
THE ONLY SALAMANDER KNOWN FROM THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT
Tylototriton verrucosus is in danger. It's habitat is
being contaminated by pesticides and overcollection is
suspected to have had a major impact on its population. Keep
your eyes out in pet shops because it is protected in India.
DIAMOND BACK TERRAPIN RETURNS TO URBAN
Malaclemys terrapin terrapin is increasing its range and
density within the city limits of New York according to a
recent survey co-ordinated by the Natural Resources Group of
the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. In the
fall of 1986, a lake in the heart of Manhattan's Central Park
was renamed "Turtle Lake" in honor of the other chelydrian New
Yorker, the snapping turtle.
GOPHER TORTOISES NEED YOUR LETTERS Florida Atlantic
University is considering some new development, a biology
facility on the present homesite for 200-300 tortoises. The
33 hectare wedge is not really necessary to the University's
development plans because there are other areas within the
main campus which have already been disturbed and could be
used for the building. Please write to Dr. Helen Popovich,
President, F.A.U., Boca Raton, FL 33431.
"Things are going swimmingly well at the
turtle houses where the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles
are growing in their buckets like weeds. We also have a
number of fine little loggerhead turtles saved from being
involved in an ill-advised research project some months back.
All of us are looking forward to our annual Valentine Open
House. Lots of visitors bring valentines to decorate the
turtle houses and see how much the guys have grown. Some
folks have never even seen a sea turtle before. Our event is
on February 20th, 4700 Avenue U in Galveston, Texas. Every
one in the CHS is invited! Y'all come." SHE ALSO ASKED that
I remind everyone that the endangered species reauthorization
still has to pass the Senate. We need to write and call our
U.S. senators to request their vote in favor of S. 675
without TED amendments. In Illinois, the Senators are Paul
Simon and Alan Dixon, with Chicago offices, 230 S. Dearborn,
60601 and at the U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.
MICHAEL WEBER OF THE CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
(The defeat of TED amendments is) "largely due to
your letters and telephone calls...Because of your efforts and
those of many other conservationists in Washington and around
the country, the Endangered Species Act has overcome its
greatest challenge since 1978. Now it's on to the Senate."
GREETINGS TO THE NEWLY REVIVED OREGON HERP. SOCIETY! Their
newest newsletter, dated December 12th, 1987, requests the
pleasure of your membership for $5.00 a year. There were
no reprints from CHS in this issue.
GREENPEACE BEGINS PUBLISHING six times a year. Subscriptions
are $15.00. This issue was 24 pages with color photos. Write:
Greenpeace, 1611 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009.
A PAIR OF GIANT TORTOISES COLLECTED IN 1928 bred and produced
their first 10 youngsters at Life Fellowship Bird Sanctuary in
Seffner, Florida in 1987. It is suspected that keeping the
tortoises in mixed herds of similar size animals is not good
breeding husbandry since it appears females prefer to mate
with older, larger, dominant males of the same subspecies.
A TINY, TWO HEADED TURTLE WAS STOLEN from an exotic pet shop
in Winter Haven, Florida but was recovered at a car wash.
RAY PAWLEY OF BROOKFIELD ZOO
"We need to rethink our
exhibit approach...(because of a comment) made by a young
adult who thought that egg-eating snakes laid bird-like eggs
in birds nests as their way of reproducing instead of
understanding that the bird eggs in the bird nest are food!!"
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION Alvin Breisch, Senior Wildlife
Biologist, Endangered Species Unit, New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation, Delmar, NY 12054-9767. Dr.
"On June 11, 1983 the massasauga rattlesnake
(Sistrurus catenatus) was listed as an endangered species
and the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) was listed
as a threatened species in New York. S. catenatus and
C. horridus are interpreted broadly to include all sub-
species of both species, whether they are native to New York
or not. The taking, importation, transportation, possession
or sale of any endangered or threatened species, living or
dead, or its parts, is prohibited except under permit from
(this department). It is the policy of the Department not to
issue a permit to possess an endangered or threatened species
for a pet, as food or for similar commercial activities.
Rattlesnake round-ups would not be permitted. When practical,
so-called "nuisance" rattlesnakes are captured alive and
unharmed and are released at a nearby den. The penalty for
illegally taking an endangered or threatened species is a
maximum of one thousand dollars for each offense plus an
additional two hundred and fifty dollars for each specimen or
fifteen days in jail or both. With the protection these
species now receive, we expect their populations will slowly
recover, but this recovery is limited by a low reproductive
potential, a rather late age of sexual maturity, and the
continued loss of suitable habitat. If anyone has information
on either the massasauga or timber rattlesnake in New York,
please ask them to contact me at the above address."
THIS POLICY IS IN SHARP CONTRAST to a situation in Ocala,
Florida where a judge ordered a young man to kill his seven
poisonous pet snakes because an eastern diamondback he gave a
friend bit a woman four times as she tried to "rescue" some
mice. Two deputies watched as the owner shot his pets: two
cobras, four rattlers and a gaboon viper. The victim of the
snake bite said "I wish he didn't have to kill the snakes."
ANOTHER READER WRITES
"when the CHS Bulletin comes (my
employer and I) read it and spend several hours talking about
the various articles. By the time I take the Bulletin home
for my spouse to read it is pretty dog-eared! Needless to
say, it is one of the few things we look forward to with any
real anticipation. Tamar Ehlert."
THE FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION is considering regulation changes for 1988-89 including a ban on sale,
possession, eating, etc. gopher tortoises without a permit.
The comment period is closed, the decision will be March 4th.
For more information contact: Ed Wester, General Biology,
101 Cary Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849.
THE ONLY WAY YOU'LL HEAR THE JOKE ABOUT ANACONDA SANDWICHES
will be if you attend "CHAOS - ad infinitum" the newest,
musical, scientific, comedy to roll out of the fertile minds
of staff and friends of the Chicago Academy of Sciences.
Dinosaurs reflect on the passing of their kind and a very laid
back crocodile discusses eco-karmic philosophy. A few
"classic CHAOS" routines have been updated, but the vast
majority of the material is new. This show is faster paced
than the last. The only bad part is listening so carefully to
all the jokes and trying not to laugh or you will miss one.
The use of film, video, slides, lights, music and staging are
very impressive, especially if you have been to a CHS meeting
and watched us try to use the projectors and find the lights.
Tickets are $7.50, Friday & Saturday nights only through March
19, 1988. Please call... for reservations (required).
Curtain is at 8:07 exactly.
THERE IS A GROWING DILEMMA whether concern for an individual
animal or an entire species should take precedence. I can
assume that most of us favor both conservation of wild species
and the humane treatment of animals. But what happens when
humane treatment and conservation collide? Consider the case
of Round Island, 12 miles off Mauritius. Sailors released
rabbits and goats which stripped the island of its closed
canopy forest and placed 2 species of boas and two endemic
species of lizards in jeopardy. Goat and rabbit elimination
was halted by a humane organization. Within the last two
years, rabbits were eradicated by a combination of trapping,
shooting and poisoning. One species of boa appears to be
extinct. Slowly, vegetation is returning. Each of us must
try very hard this year to convince humane societies that
reptiles and amphibians are animals, too. We also have to
consider our personal environmental impact. Do we keep just
one of an animal, or try to preserve the species? If already
breeding, are we keeping accurate stud and captivity records.
It seems that 1988 will be a year of pet and animal
legislation and regulation. Local herpetological societies
should make themselves known to their legislators and
regulators in an attempt to become part of the review process.
Otherwise, as Mr. Mulvaney noted last year, we may find
ourselves regulated out of our pets. Local herpetofauna
should be observed and recorded. Preservation of habitat and
education of the general public are high priorities.
"I found the article 'Disarming the
Armed' by Robert Marsho in the January 1988 Wisconsin
Herpetological Society Newsletter to be disturbing on several
counts. In it the author interviews an anonymous person,
referred to as 'Todd,' who surgically devenomates poisonous
snakes for himself and others without the benefit of humane or
legal anesthesia, without any formal veterinary training or a
license, without any mention of sterility for surgery, and
without adequate concern for the important legal
ramifications. And yet, the paper includes a description of
instrumentation using household items, restraint methods, and
surgical technique along with a helpful 'how to' diagram,
enabling any reader to muddle through the procedure. -
Marsho weakly justifies the article with the usual concern
over censorship and a desire to present a 'controversial'
topic because it is 'happening.' Organized dog fighting rings
are happening too, but you won't see articles about them in
Dog World magazine describing 'how to' or without
condemnation in the strongest terms. In fact Marsho's
lack of condemnation and upbeat, conversational tone
imply acceptance or even endorsement of 'Todd's' techniques.
His disclaimer, 'I strongly urge you not to attempt to perform
this operation unless you have the experience or are
educated significantly in this area' [the emphasis is Barten's],
says, if you have experience or education, go right ahead! -
'Todd,' who works for a medical supply firm, is not in fact a
veterinarian. He describes using hypothermia (lowered body
temperature) for anesthesia, including enough detail to
duplicate the procedure at home. This is in spite of the fact
that modern veterinary textbooks emphatically state that
hypothermia should not be used because it increases the
risk of killing debilitated patients, increases the time it
takes to metabolize any drugs administered, provides
inadequate relief from pain ('Todd' describes his subjects
reacting to the incisions), and can possibly cause
neurological damage. In fact some of 'Todd's' subjects
contracted respiratory infections as a result of hypothermia,
but 'for the most part we 'Todd" could handle it.' Later
'Todd' acquired ketamine, a prescription-only injectable
anesthetic, from a zoo without being questioned for what
purpose he planned to use it. The zoo probably was in
violation of the law for dispensing the drug in that manner,
and 'Todd' for possessing it and using it without a valid
prescription. -- 'Todd' is also guilty of practicing
veterinary medicine without a license, using prescription
medicines and performing surgery for a fee. 'One article
states he charges $40 and will also teach 'anyone willing to
learn' how to do the procedure. He has had no formal
training. He fails to mention the use of aseptic technique,
sterile instruments, sterile gloves, or a sterile surgical drape.
For those who would argue they don't have a qualified
veterinarian in the non-urban areas in which they may live, I
would suggest they take a drive to one or don't keep the
animals. Would you let a pet store owner, dog groomer, or
kennel operator spay your dog? What's the difference? They
know a lot about dogs and a little about the commonly used
drugs, just like 'Todd' does about snakes. - There is some
question whether this technique is humane. In addition to
the use of hypothermia, he describes a characteristic post-
operative disfiguring swelling of the head, lasting for
6 months to 2 years! Possible long term side effects of
this procedure are not considered. Furthermore, operated
snakes would not be able to be released to the wild. -
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there are frightening
legal ramifications of this procedure. The liability of the
surgeon in a fatality resulting from a failed operation would
be astronomical. If the surgeon were practicing without a
license, so much the worse. The described technique is no
more than a vasectomy of the venom duct. We've all heard
of failed vasectomies of the sperm duct in men, even when
performed by highly trained, licensed physicians with all the
modem technology of human hospitals. So why couldn't a
devenomation procedure done in the kitchen on a wiggling
snake fail? They can, and they do. The article even describes
the victim of a failed devenomation surgery. In light of
these facts, zoos and museums that keep devenomized snakes
continue to handle them as if they were still venomous,
although this practice would invalidate 'Todd's' whole reason
for subjecting the snakes to the procedure, which is to turn
them into pets. I'm also concerned about the liability of
the Wisconsin Herpetological Society should someone read
this article, try it at home, botch it, and get envenomated.
- In conclusion, if the author wanted to spark controversy,
he has. The printing of this article was irresponsible. A
herpetological society should provide leadership for its
members and in this case should have addressed the issues I
bring up. And while this or a similar technique may have
some place for zoo or museum animals, the practice of
surgery by lay persons for the sole purpose of turning
venomous snakes into private pets is unethical. A more
proper disclaimer to introduce Marsho's article would have
been, 'I strongly urge you not to attempt to perform this
operation unless you are quite experienced with snakes in
general and venomous snakes in particular, are a licensed
veterinarian working for a legitimate zoo or museum, are
using modern anesthetics and equipment, have a valid
disclaimer of liability written by a lawyer and signed by
the director of the institution and all employees who might
ever come into contact with the snake (notarization wouldn't
hurt), and warn them in writing to continue to handle the
snake as if it were still capable of inflicting venom, just in
case.' And even then, I'd have to think twice."
Tom Porter of Reseda, CA
"We met last year at IHS;
you impressed me as being very honest, benevolent, and
intelligent. But you're the only person I know who has all
three of these qualities who still supports conservation laws.
My question is why? And it's a serious question; I'm not
trying to persuade you that my point of view is right but to
see why you reject it. I'm not talking about TEDS, but your
items like 'Surprise on a dealer's price list'; where the main
victim (sic) of these laws are the very amateurs you're writing
for. I can't believe you just 'bought' an 'ism' and can't look
at reality: how many species has conservationism saved? A.
mississippensis (sic), maybe. A couple species of sea-turtles,
maybe. The jury isn't in, but it looks good. Galapagos
Tortoises, maybe, but it's hard to apportion credit between
conservation and captive specimens. Now look at all the
species captive breeders have saved; look at your own
classified section ... Conservation laws don't usually fight
whatever is causing extinction - they just slow it down, by
circling the wagons. But it's a circle from which there's no
escape. When the species is finally down to the last 1, or 3,
or 7, then they're taken into captivity, but nobody's been
allowed to work with them before, and their needs aren't known
well enough. When we teach people conservationism, we teach
them how to vote for laws that prevent them from doing any-
thing else about the problem. How much better to alert them
to problems they can solve at home, by working with these
animals and learning to breed them. The ideology can produce
the interest, and it's all that's needed. Smugglers (Pet trade
smugglers) emerge as the good guys. Who (sic) prevents this:
Conservation laws of just the kind you support. Do they
really stop development? Unless the developer has enough pull.
Do they stop highways? Do they stop cats and dogs from people
outside the protected area? (sic) All they really stop is
captivebreeding. Some people are just too dumb to see this.
Some are so full of hatred and envy they'd like it to happen,
so they can prove how terrible Man is and how right they were.
Some are so dishonest they go along with what the crowd want
(sic) to hear, regardless of its real effect on the species.
Some people are so powerhungrey (sic) they can't resist the
chance they might get put in charge of a 'permit system,' even
if they know it will be counterproductive. Your column reads
like a high school civics text, teaching kids who know better
that every law is a good law. Why? Don't you know better?
Sincerely, Tom Porter P.S. No hurry. I'd much rather get
a well thought out letter months or years later, than a hasty
missive showing you didn't read mine. Thanks." (Note: To
avoid misquoting Tom, I have not edited his letter. Tom has
also recently published in the Southwestern Herpetologists
Society Newsletter, February, 1988 and the San Diego
Herpetological Society Newsletter, January, 1988.)
Carole Allen of H.E.A.R.T. composed the following reply to
"If we were all as pessimistic as your letter would
indicate you are, there would be little hope indeed for our
world's wildlife. Fortunately, there are many in our
democratic society and elsewhere in the world who encourage
and support conservation laws. Admittedly it is an imperfect
world, and we could dwell on the failures of the past to
protect certain species that are now gone forever, but the
important point is that we learn from those failures and use
them as guides to our present and future actions. --
Conservation laws exist because people want them to exist for
purposes of conservation. Any law is effective only to the
extent that people abide by it and enforce it, but having the
law is a recognition of the need, and it is a good starting
point. The rest is up to the people themselves and their
society's enforcement and judicial systems. - As far as
conservation of wildlife is concerned, captive propagation
can be used to provide individuals of a species for restocking
areas where the species formerly occurred but was depleted
in various ways. It is a 'stopgap' or 'last-ditch' method,
used when all other conservation measures fail to halt
and reverse the decimation of a species. Obviously, to be
effective, conservation must be aimed not only at preserving
adequate numbers of a species so that its populations can
replenish themselves in perpetuity, but it should also focus
on protecting the species' environment. It does little good
to maintain a gene pool of a species under conditions of
captive propagation if the species has no remaining habitat
to colonize. If people wanted all remaining wildlife in zoos,
they would not be supporting conservation of wildlife in the
wild, and protection of wildlife habitat. There are many of
us who not only enjoy seeing wildlife in the natural habitat,
but want the same for future generations. It will not be easy
to perpetuate these renewable, common property resources,
but it can be done, and we are fortunate to be among those
who are helping the process along. - In the United States
and elsewhere there are encouraging signs. We now have an
Endangered Species Act, a Marine Mammal Protection Act,
a Clean Air Act, a Clean Water Act, and so on. Our nation
is among the parties to the Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Our society
is demanding a better environment, and is showing a willing-
ness to pay the costs to clean it up. Just because there have
been despoilers in the past does not mean it is too late to
do something about the state of the environment and its
inhabitants. Surely there is illegal trade in protected species,
but there are increasing international pressures to stem it.
What is needed is greater effort rather than pessimistic
withdrawal from the problems of conservation. When we
support conservation of wildlife and the environment, we
enhance our own quality of life and that of those who will
follow us. If, after our years on this earth have passed, we
have made some contribution to a better future world, our
efforts will not have been in vain. - We would rather have
you join in our conservation efforts than to have you opposed
to or critical of those efforts. Let's work together to find some
common ground for communication, cooperation and mutual
support, so that you can pursue your interests as a wildlife
breeder while at the same time promoting conservation of the
same animals and others in their natural habitat.
Hobart Smith comments
"Strange that your California dealer
should attack 'conservationism' when his breeding work is one
aspect of conservationism."
Duane Smith of the Michigan Society of Herpetologists wrote
in their January, 1988, Newsletter:
"I believe that we, as
hobbyists, breeders, and business people, have a definite
interest in promoting the preservation and expansion of these
animals; in fact, being a group that is already organized and
interested in herps uniquely qualifies us to 'do something."'
A thousand praises to Steve Hammond a breeder from Louisville
KY! At the end of his most recent price list he writes:
are members/supporters of. Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund,
The Cousteau Society, The Wilderness Society and The National
Geographic Society (with addresses for all). Please join the
fight to preserve our Earth's wilderness and wildlife. There
is strength in numbers and by supporting these organizations
and others like them you and I can make a difference."
The California Fish and Game Commission is considering listing
the desert tortoise as a Threatened Species. Populations of
this reptile have come under increasing pressure from
development, off-road vehicle use, grazing of native grasses
by imported cattle, chemical and pesticide use and the rest of
the usual list of man's degradation of the natural environ-
ment. Additionally, many tortoise corpses have been found
which were the victims of gunshots. It appears some folks
are using them for target practice. Kristin Berry, a wildlife
biologist with the Bureau of Land Management said, "We know
they've dropped over 90% in the last 50 years. In the last
seven or eight years, we've probably had a 50% drop in numbers
and a retraction of their western Mojave habitat.' It
appears there were 1,000 tortoises per square mile in the
1920's. Even in protected areas such as the Desert Tortoise
Natural Area, the numbers are now no greater than about 200
per square mile. California's proposed listing would be a
great benefit to this animal. I encourage your involvement
in this issue. You can write letters in support of the listing
to: Southwestern Herpetologists Society, P.O. Box 7469,
Van Nuys, CA, 91409.
Western law enforcement oficers seized hundreds of
rattlesnakes and exotic desert animals from homes, shops and
offices in Arizona and eight other states in early January.
More than a dozen people were arrested and more arrests are
expected after sales documents can be examined. Commercial
poaching is a big business in the west. State and Federal
officials report hundreds of people are engaged in trapping
wildlife, much of which is protected by state and Federal
laws. These animals are then resold to domestic and foreign
collectors. Based on evidence seized in the raids and
previous investigations, officials estimate the volume of
illicit sales runs into many millions of dollars annually
nationwide. Undercover investigators opened a store in
Phoenix, named Black River Trading Company, to identify
illegal poachers and their customers. In Arizona, several
types of rare rattlers were seized in dealers homes along with
hundreds of desert creatures including Gila monsters. In
California, 149 snakes - including two cobras and a gaboon
viper - were taken. Investigators say that the laws meant to
protect rare species from extinction had placed a premium on
them by making them even more sought-after by dealers and
collectors. A law enforcement officer said, "To them, it's
like collecting classic cars.' Gregory Laret of the CA
Department of Fish and Game said, Their object is to obtain
a collection that is unique and dangerous."
A twelve year old girl successfully pried a 3 1/2 foot
alligator off her after it had grabbed her legs. Her mother
said, "Basically, she scared the alligator off." The child
said, "It didn't hurt at all. I just looked down and there
was an alligator on my leg. Save this for the next time
someone calls an alligator a life threatening reptile!
A Florida development has been approved which will evict a
community of gopher tortoises and turn their 26 acre habitat
into mobile home lots. The developer proposes using golf
courses as the project's "open or green areas." The
developer has also stated that the trees are an eyesore that
would not be appreciated by the occupants of the mobile
homes. A consultant said that the 26 acre tract of oaks does
not need to be saved because it is small and does not provide
habitat for rare or endangered species.
A hunting ban on gopher tortoises is being considered by the
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Under
current rules, people can legally trap and kill two gopher
tortoises per day from October to December. The final vote
will be taken on March 4, 1988.
The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles has
passed a resolution recommending to the Georgia Department
of Natural Resources modification of Georgia Game and Fish
Law #27-1-30 which prohibits the use of chemicals, gas or
smokers to drive animals from burrows except for poisonous
snakes. The SSAR points out that other animals including
gopher tortoises and eastern indigo snakes live in burrows
with poisonous snakes and that those persons gassing the
burrows have no way to tell if there is even one poisonous
snake in a given burrow. SSAR is requesting removal of the
exemption allowing this use of poisonous chemicals.
Terry Hall of the North Texas Herpetological Society published
an original description of the 'Lounge Lizard (Agama
barrymanilowii) which is found in urban and suburban
environments, usually near neon. Fond of grasshoppers,
barflies, and especially beer nuts". (NTHS, Jan. 1988)
New members from Kalamazoo write:
"My husband and I have
come in contact with you because we bought a green iguana a
few months ago. The pet store we purchased it from supplied
us with one of your care sheets and our iguana is thriving.
Since that time we went to another pet store and looked at
their lizards only to find them horribly mistreating their
animals. We supplied them with a care sheet but no changes in
condition were made. We called the humane society and the pet
store inspector but they said no laws covered lizards. Is this
true in Michigan? Is there anything we can do?"
Dear Readers (most especially newsletter editors) the
Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society is a
copyrighted publication. I personally do not mind you copying
word-for-word from this column as long as you properly credit
the publication which so graciously publishes this column. A
proper citation includes the name (or abbreviated name) of the
publication, the volume, number and page. Additionally, I
spend many hours collecting, typing, writing and laboring on
this column and would most sincerely appreciate it if you
would cite my name. This is most important when you copy my
sassy comments word-for-word. Otherwise, your readers may
think it is you being rude, not me. THANK YOU.
Absolutely marvelous news was received from the Gopher
Tortoise Council! The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission formally approved the end of gopher tortoise
harvesting throughout the state. GTC has worked for 10 years
to close the hunting season for this severely endangered
Please write Col. Robert M. Brantly, FGFWFC, 620 South
Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 thanking him for
their wonderful action and requesting that the decision be
widely publicized and enforced. Additionally, new FGFWFC
regulations prohibit the sale of any box turtle and limits
possession to 2 loggerhead musk turtles (Sternotherus minor
minor). Pet trade collectors have eliminated whole
populations from their native rivers in north central Florida.
As so often happens, abuse brings regulation.
New York herpetologists search for the threatened tiger
salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum. Development on Long
Island has imperiled the creature, which is known mainly from
a few remote sites. Andrew Sabin, a commodities broker and
volunteer of the South Fork-Shelter Island chapter of The
Nature Conservancy, has spent eight years searching for rare
species. He said, "I'm not doing this to stop development."
However, some developers and local government officials feel
that he and other environmentalists are trying to ruin
proposed subdivisions. Alvin Briesch, senior wildlife
biologists in the Endangered Species Unit of NY's Department
of Environmental Conservation said that the state would seek a
largely undisturbed border of about 500 feet around the pond.
Are green tree pythons always green? Not when they are
babies! The Lincoln Park Zoo received three young ones from
the Dallas Zoo. They are the first of six animals which will
be part of a new breeding program. You can visit them, from
10 am to 2 pm daily, on the lower level of the Reptile House.
The Shedd Aquarium sent off its 6 year old loggerhead
turtle, Caretta caretta, on a one-way trip to Florida.
The turtle was presented to the aquarium when it was a 4 pound
hatchling in 1982. It now weighs over 100 pounds with a 3
foot shell. It will be tagged and released off the east coast
of Florida. But does it know what a shrimp boat looks like?
A toadally awesome Bufo marinus will be listed in the next edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. The
marine toad, known only as "Toad A" weighs 5 pounds 1 1/2
ounces and is 9 nine inches square. Marine toads have been
introduced to many areas around the world and have been
implicated in disturbances to many local species. If proposed
regulations are accepted in New York, the keeping of one of
these overstuffed amphibians will require a permit.
Sentancing is expected for Mike Fabing, owner of the
infamous, "life threatening" Burmese pythons known as "Adam"
and "Eve" on April 19th. At that time the defendant
may have some input on where his snakes will be kept
pending appeal. Newspaper clippings I've been sent have
listed the creatures as 18 to 20 feet in length. Honestly!
Actually their rough lengths are: Eve 15', Adam 17', Crusher
(a boa constrictor) 6' and the now deceased alligator, 42".
Obviously, calling every boa over 6 feet in length, "life
threatening" is silly - unless you are a hamster.
A Federal Grand Jury in Los Angeles returned a 29 count
indictment charging an inspector with the Fish and Wildlife
Service with conspiracy, receiving bribes and illegally
importing more than 50,000 animals protected by the CITES
treaty. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired
to bring eight shipments containing live boa constrictors,
iguanas, caimans, mud turtles and tegus from Colombia to the
US through Panama. The FWS inspector indicted allegedly
permitted the shipments to enter the US. The estimated retail
value of the animals was over $400,000. Investigation
continues for other unindicted co-conspirators. This is
reportedly the first corruption case brought against any
FWS inspectors. Somehow, $8.00 per animal seems too little to
risk one's life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Paul Edwards of the Nebraska Herp. Society recently gave
a presentation on the International Husbandry Symposium held
in Chicago last summer. Their newsletter reports "His
presentation focused on the nice looking ladies...
herp. notables..." Either this indicates Paul's particular
herpetological speciality, or makes a statement about the
scientific impact of IHS.
Greetings to the newly formed Tucson Herp. Society! We
received their very first newsletter, neatly printed and full
of interesting information. If you wish to become a charter
member, send $10 to: David L. Hardy, MD, THS, PO Box 31531,
Tucson, AZ 85751-1531. Please refer to this column.
The California Department of Fish and Game has formed the
California Advisory Committee on Herpetology. Two members of
the San Diego Herp. Society are members of the committee which
has as its priorities the preparation of a rule permitting the
commercial captive propagation of native California herps,
annual review of protected and prohibited species, the
clarification of the "bag limits" for collectors and other
timely topics. Persons wishing to make comments to the
committee are urged to write Vince Scheidt, c/o The San Diego
Herp. Society, PO Box 4439, San Diego, CA 92104-0439.
The most venomous animal on Earth is not a snake!
International Wildlife Magazine conducted a survey of medical
and zoological experts which revealed that Australia's box
jellyfish, which can kill a swimmer in as little as 30
seconds, should be considered the most poisonous animal.
Number two is the beaked sea snake, Enhydrina schistosa.
Most human victims are Southeast Asian fishermen, killed when
they accidentally net snakes along with the rest of their
catch. Next are the blue-ringed octopus, the stonefish,
scorpions, the funnel-web spider. The rest of the list are
terrestrial snakes: the taipan, the eastern brown snake of
Australia, the king cobra and the black mamba.
The good news/bad news department. Hostilities in
Nicaragua - as unfortunate as they are - mean good news for
sea turtles. Practically all commerce in that war torn nation
has stopped, including trade in and killing of sea turtles.
However, Panama's political difficulties may slow approval of
that nation's first marine park, Isla Bastimento.
Leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles, all critically
imperiled, nest on the beaches there.
The flattened musk turtle, Sternotherus depressus, and
the Alabaman red-bellied turtle, Pseudemys alabamensis,
have been added to the US list of Endangered and Threatened
species under the Endangered Species Act. The musk turtle has
been reduced in both numbers and extent of range by
collectors, disease and loss of habitat due to silt and water
pollution. The red-bellied turtle seems to only nest on an
island in the lower floodplain of the Mobile River. Birds,
most espcially the fish crow, are very fond of turtle eggs and
humans use the beaches for recreation. Neither are very
helpful to reproductive success. Pet trade collectors further
threaten the red-belly.
Two protesters from Earth First chained themselves to a
fence at a city park in Taylor, TX during the local
rattlesnake roundup. Another 10 people picketed stating that
the roundup disturbs the central Texas environment and harms
wildlife. My personal thanks to those committed individuals.
The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission will
permit hunters to legally "harvest" alligators next September
for the first time in 26 years. Environmentalists pointed out
that hunting may have endangered the animal in the first place
and that people are likely to get hurt since the law prohibits
the use of firearms to hunt gators. Officials expect the hunt
to net about 1,500 animals. Currently about 1,000 are killed
each year for research and 3,000 are killed after they become
a "nuisance." Well, at least they're not following the famous
cartoon's advice about what to do when you're up to your ears
in alligators, they have few enough swamps left as it is!
"Eat your dinner before it eats you!" proclaimed the
London Evening Standard atop an article about the popularity
of farm-raised alligator meat in England. Recent recipes for
the critter include Alligator Pimavera and Szechuan Spicy
Alligator. In a "blind" taste test, volunteers were fed pork
which they had been told was alligator. Many of them couldn't
eat it! They claimed it was too fishy, too scaly and too
swampy to eat. Did they wash it down with Gator Aid?
Members interested in participating in drafting a proposed
exotic animal law should get a copy of the 3rd draft from the
Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Group, c/o
Parasitology College of Veterinary Medicine, University of
Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. After you have had a chance to
read it - your comments will be most welcome. This is an
opportunity for all herpetoculturists to become involved in
what may become "model" legislation for the keeping and
breeding of exotic herps.
A local member recently visited a pet store in the far
southwestern Chicago suburbs. After looking at the herps, he
asked the owner if the store would be interested in buying
some of his hatchlings. He reports the owner said no, because
the snakes in question would grow to more than four feet.
He had been visited by a representative of the Department of
Agriculture and the Illinois Department of Conservation who
informed him that snakes over four feet are now illegal! I
know the Department of Agriculture has sweeping powers under
the Pet Shop Regulations, but wouldn't it be nice if they
would publish and let us all know their regulatory decisions?
Fellow subscribers to Herpetofauna News are about to be in
for a shock. If you are a member of the Fauna and Flora
Preservation Society, you will continue to receive your copy
in the mail. To save costs, copies for non-members will be
distributed only through other societies and in batches of 10
or more. Herp societies should consider signing up for 10
copies. I'm sure your members will be most interested in this
excellent publication, and it's still cheap. Write Tom
Langton, FFPS, c/o Zoological Society of London, Regent's
Park, London NW1 4RY.
After a month of careful thought, I would like to say a
few words to Tom Porter, whose letter was featured in last
Personally, I believe that "conservationism"
has not saved any species. Earth has experienced cyclical extinctions, usually at 26 million year intervals. The current wave of Man-induced extinctions falls at the 13 million year mark. Even if we, as caring human beings, are working to "save" animals, who is to say that they will remain "saved?" What if we, the little
people, work to "save" animals, only to find that humans have
so degraded the atmosphere that nothing on Earth will survive?
I think that "conservationism" is a wholistic approach to the
problems confronting our generation. I oppose the production
of toxic wastes, but I can do little about it. I oppose
rampant development, but cannot singlehandedly stop it. I
oppose the fouling of our air and water, but can do nothing,
alone. "Conservationism", which you so roundly condemn, is
the joining together of many people with a common hope - that
our children, and theirs, will be able to breathe the air,
drink the water and see at least a little of the biological
diversity that once was planet Earth. Captive propagation has
a very unique and valuable role. However, I cannot agree with
you that pet trade smugglers are "good guys." Mammalian
smugglers routinely kill mothers to capture young. Fish
collectors use sodium cyanide to flush tropicals from their
home waters and into plastic bags, killing coral and other
reef animals. Bird collectors capture spectacular animals,
then bind them into small packages and attempt to smuggle them
into this country - killing thousands along the way. I can't
imagine the average illegal reptile collector cares for the
animals as individuals, merely as living dollar signs. The
pet smuggling trade is a trail of death from beginning to end.
Legal and responsible importation does occur. Our zoos trade
and acquire endangered animals regularly. Many zoos have
established breeding programs for all kinds of animals.
Typically, however, they refuse to release "extra" animals to
non-professionals. Why? Because of bad experiences with
unscrupulous individuals in the past. It is a shame that the
actions of the few have corrupted what could otherwise be a
wonderful cooperation between amateur and professional. I
suggest you read "The Last Extinction" edited by Les Kaufman
and Kenneth Mallory, published by New England Aquarium/The MIT
Press, Cambridge, MA 1986. You may better understand
"conservationism" and its desperate importance to our planet.
I did not appreciate your venom, nor some of your more
personal remarks, but I can try to understand your pain and
frustration. Please let's try to work together for the
salvation of Earth - the only home we're likely to have.
Thanks to all who have sent material for this column!
Turtle lovers are requested to boycott all shrimp
and shrimp products until the operators of Gulf Coast shrimp
boats install their TEDs. The TX shrimp boat owners were
offered a diesel fuel rebate from the State of TX, in the
amount of $975,000. This would have been enough to pay for
aTED on every boat in the area. We thought we had this all
sewn up, until Federal Judge, Patrick Car, issued an
injunction on all TED use. The Justice Department will file
a motion to vacate his injunction. However, many Louisiana
and Texas shrimpers are fishing outside the 15 mile limit and
many have stated that they'll never use a TED. The cheapest
TED is made of netting and costs $50.00 per net. The
"Georgia Jumper" TED, invented by shrimper Sinkey Boone,
costs about $210 per net. Jane Scheidler of the Houston
Audubon Society is coordinating the "Don't eat shrimp"
effort. You can contact her at (713) 932-1639 if you or your
organization can help. There are approximately 500 female
ridley turtles, Lepidochelys kempii left on this whole
planet. I doubt if any of us will die if we can't eat
shrimp, but a lot of turtles will die if TEDs aren't in use
on all U.S. shrimp boats, and soon!
The Endangered Species Act has still not been voted on by
the U.S. Senate. Please call your senators at (202)
224-3121 today! Ask if they support or co-sponsor S-675
without any amendments that would allow shrimping without
TEDS. Also, ask them to contact you to let you know how they
voted - when they've voted. Call your local public library
if you want the exact office number, their name, or party
affiliation, or mailing address - if you prefer to write.
The New Mexico Herpetological Society requests your help!
The First Annual Wild West Rattlesnake Roundup was held in
Alamogordo, N.M., April 15-17. Please write Jim Stuart,
President, NMHS, Department of Biology, University of New
Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131 to find out how you can help
make this event the last annual RRU there!
With the theme of, "Rattlesnake roundups are educational
only if you are a student of abnormal psychchology,"
The Greater San Antonio Herpetological Society is
diligently working with about 20 other conservation groups
on the issue of Rattlesnake Roundups in TX. You can contact:
Jim Seippel, Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, GSAHS,
The International President of the Lions Clubs wrote me
that if we can provide proof that local Lions Clubs are
participating in rattlesnake roundups, the Public Relations
Manager of the International Lions will be happy to discuss
local participation in these types of events. Please write
Mr. Pat Cannon, Public Relations Manager, Lions Clubs,
300-22nd Street, Oak Brook, IL 60570-0001.
Those new members in Kalamazoo got results from their
local pet store! The manager of the store agreed to a
meeting after being given a copy of a proposed flyer which
read "(store) Kills Its Pets...abuses include: no UV
lighting, rotting food...rotting lizard in cage...no heat
rock..." The flyer went on to provide the name and address of
the local paper and information on an animal rights group.
The manager met with the reptile lovers to prevent the
distribution of the flyers and, I'm happy to report is now
making every attempt to care for his reptiles properly.
Thanks, Kristen and Josh for caring!
The New York Times reports that an ancient, American
Indian petroglyph was discovered overlooking the Bronx River.
It was in the shape of a turtle. It may have been carved
between 400 to 1000 years ago by Delaware Indians as a clan
design or a symbol of the creation myth. The rock has been
moved to the Botanical Gardens.
Fila Footwear had a great ad in People! A snake
slithering beautifully on a tennis sneaker with a caption
that they "...(do) not promote the use of authentic reptile
or exotic animal skins in the manufacture of any of its
In a recent letter in Practical Homeowner, some NY
residents mentioned the problem they were having with snakes
in their 150 year old basement. The suggestion given was to
seal all the cracks and holes in the basement. What I think
their columnist left out for these poor people is that the
snakes are probably down there for rodents!
Keith Sutton answered questions about the new Arkansas
Game and Fish Commission code regarding turtles in a recent
article in Arkansas Game and Fish Magazine. Aquatic turtles
may be taken by persons with appropriate permits. No box
turtles may be taken since the state wildlife code contains
no provision for their harvest but does protect all wildlife,
including non-game. Residents may keep up to six box turtles
as pets - as long as they aren't ornate box turtles. The
species is rare in Arkansas and has declined throughout its
range because of agricultural land modifications and roads -
where hundreds die every year. Turtles aren't the only
creatures on the "hands off" list: cave-dwelling species,
non-game birds, bats, endangered species and hellbenders are
no longer legal quarry in the state.
Steve Hammond replies to Tom Porter: "I read Tom Porter's
essay "The Kiss of Death" in the premier issue of The
Vivarium (publication of the American Federation of
Herpetoculturists) and found it quite though provoking. In
this essay, he makes some very valid points. I would
recommend anyone interested in conservation and the future of
herpetoculture to read it - with an open mind. However, I
found Mr. Porter's letter to you in last month's CHS
Bulletin somewhat disturbing to say the least. Surely Tom
realizes that there are other animals on the planet besides
"herps" and that a great many of these animals are seriously
threatened with extinction. How many individuals could start
a Black Rhino or a Humpback Whale captive breeding project?
Even if species are saved in captive breeding programs it
will be a sad state of affairs if they no longer survive in
the wild. Conservation of nature is a spiritual necessity of
the highest order. Supporting conservation does not
have to mean supporting ill conceived laws restricting
amateur hobbyists. Private breeders should be commended and
supported, not restricted. As most herpetoculturists
know, there is still a lot of prejudice in this society
against "herps" and snakes in particular. This is reflected
in much of the proposed legislation pertaining to the rights
of herpetoculturists. The article by Michael Fabing in the
last CHS Bulletin, is but one example of this prejudice.
There are a lot of "herp" enthusiasts now, and if we bank
together we can protect our rights to pursue our hobby. That
is the idea behind the newly formed American Federation of
Herpetoculturists...Most if not all herpetologists believe in
evolution. The stages of evolution are particularly obvious
in this animal group. Belieiving and knowing this, we then
realize that man didn't spring forth fully formed to dominate
and destroy lesser lifeforms, but rather evolved out of these
forms, and thus, many is integrally linked to the rest of
nature the Earth is the universal mother. But now she lies
raped and dying by the side of the road. Will you stop
and help? Or will you just stick your head in the sand,
pretend that all is grand and hope that everything turns out
ok? I would hope you would consider joining any of these
groups - all are fighting for our Mom! Greenpeace, PO Box
3720, Washington, DC 20007 $15; World Wildlife Fund,
1250-24th St. NW, Wash., DC 20077-9735 $15; The Cousteau
Society, 930 W. 21st St, Norfolk, VA 23517-9984 $20; The
Wilderness Society, 1400 Eye St. NW, Wash., DC 20005 $15;
The American Federation of Herpetoculturists, PO Box 1131,
Lakeside, CA 92040 $20; The Nature Conservancy, 1800 N. Kent
St., Arlington, VA 22209 $15.
Robert Marsho replies "I would like to clarify and then
respond to Steve Barten's chastising commentary, which
appeared in your newsletter bulletin *March, 1988),
concerning an interview the Wiscondin Herpetological Society
published in our January, 1988 newsletter, "Disarming the
Armed." In Steve's review of our interview he either
misunderstood or wasn't clear on what was said. I would like
to address those points so that everyone is clear on them.
First of all, as Steve mentioned, I did open up the interview
with the statement: "I strongly urge you not to attempt to
perform this operation unless you have the experience or are
significantly educated in this area." However, Steve left
out or overlooked the following sentence, which I felt
further emphasized the potential dangers in duplicating this
procedure; it went on to say, "It can be very dangerous
and life threatening for you and the reptile." ... Steve also misrepresented what Todd said about hypothermia as a use for anesthesia in the interview. Todd said, "This way bothered me..." Another error in Steve's commentary was that he claimed the zoo gave Todd the drug, Ketamine. That's not true! The zoo provided Todd with the name of the drug that they were using; the name only. He got the actual drug from an independent source. The reason he
wanted the drug is because he wanted to do the procedure as
humanely as possible. Still another point Steve attacks is
Todd's $40 fee for doing the procedure for other people's
venomous snakes, calling it "practicing veterinary medicine."
I'm not going to get into the legalistic diatribes of this
argument but I feel I should share with your audience why
Todd asked for a fee and let your readers decide. Todd
thought the fee was a fair cost because he would have to
provide care and feed for the snake until he was able to get
it to eat its food dead. The reason for that is obvious, a
devenomized snake can't kill its food anylonger (sic). Then
too, after the procedure he would have to care and feed it
while it's under observation for any possible post operative
difficulties. Furthermore if he would do it for free, he
felt everybody, including their mothers', would be beating
down his door to do this procedure to their newly caught
snakes and in this way he felt the $40 fee would also put
some financial buffers, in such a way, that it would prevent
this likely phenomena fron occurring. Lastly, he felt
someone who could afford the fee would mostly likely (sic) be
a responsible adult. Finally, Steve finishes off by
questioning the sanity in publishing such a descriptive
interview for public consumption. Well the WHS constitution
does not allow for Steve's definition of "responsible
leadership," that is, our constitution does not allow our
elected and/or appointed leaders to practice their
paternalistic wisdoms in a discriminating fashion in regards
to what kind of information should be published for
membership consumption. Our constitution provides for a
participatory type of democracy whereby the President
presides but the membership govern (sic) and in theory, the
writers of our constitution believed, if the membership is
going to govern intelligently they have to be informed for
better or for worse. The newsletter policy when I was editor
was to do the interview, the whys, hows, and the wherefores
(sic); not to judge! I left that for our members to do.
They judge, we print! But just for the record the WHS is
guilty of publishing a descriptive way of devenomizing
venomous snakes but the original sin was committed by a
licensed veterinarian. It was his published paper that Todd
and his friend learned the procedure from. Robert L. Marsho
P.S. Thank you for your informative commentary." To avoid
misquotation, I did not edit Robert's letter. EB
Steve Barten replies to Robert Marsho's letter:
Surgery by unlicensed non-veterinarians is morally,
ethically, and legally wrong. A person must be a graduate of
an accredited college of veterinary medicine and pass both
state and national licensing examinations to legally practice
veterinary medicine. The person described in the recent
devenomation article had not completed either requirement.
To anesthetize animals with Ketamine, a prescription-only
controlled substance, without the benefit of a valid
prescription is also illegal. The reptiles receiving
Ketamine underwent increased risk because their surgeon was
not trained or licensed to use anesthetics. Inhalation gas
anesthesia, which requires a gas anesthetic machine to use,
is preferred over Ketamine for most surgical procedures. The
subject also described how to use hypothermia (lowered body
temperature), enabling any reader to duplicate his surgical
efforts using only a refrigerator. This was in spite of the
fact that it is ineffective and inhumane as an anesthetic, so
using it "bothered" him. Snakes feel pain as much as any
other animal or man. The publishing of the devenomation
article by the WHS was justified by pointing out that the
original description of the devenomation procedure was
written by a licensed veterinarian. The original description
appeared in a scientific veterinary journal for other
veterinarians to apply to zoo, musuem, and research animals,
NOT HOUSEHOLD PETS! The veterinarian who wrote the
scientific article also signed his name to his article.
The author and the WHS have the First Amendment right to
publish whatever they deem fit. Never the less, as a
herpetologist I am concerned about the strong prejudice the
public holds for anything relating to snakes. Laws that
prohibit the ownership of snakes often result. One such law,
restricting the ownership of all wildlife is currently being
considered in Wisconsin. Articles promoting the devenomation
of snakes by untrained persons cannot help but make
herpetologists as a group appear irresponsible and thus
deserve whatever legal restrictions come about. As a
veterinarian, my concerns must lie with the unfortunate
reptiles forced to endure this surgery.
If my protest has caused just one person to reconsider duplicating this technique, I can feel my efforts have served a purpose. Sincerely, Stephen L. Barten, D.V.M."
Lest anyone think that Steve is defending veterinarians
because he feels that vets should do all procedures and get
all the money, I would like to tell you a story...Those of
you who were subscribers to the CHS Newsletter and have your
September 1986 issue handy, may wish to look up my article
therein. I described picking up a turtle which had been
struck by a car and was badly cracked, bleeding and having
what would be called seizures, if it had been human. What I
left out was that when we arrived at our hotel in the middle
of Iowa, I called Steve's service (even though I did not know
him very well, and it was 10:30 at night) and left the
hotel phone number. About an hour later, Steve called back
and after advising me how to care for the animal, apologized
profusely for not having called sooner. He had just come out
of the delivery room with his wife, and their second child!
Steve has a marvelous, personal committment to the care and
well being of his patients.
Walt Whitman once wrote "After you exhausted what there
is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on -
have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently
wear -- what remais? Nature remains: to bring out from their
torpid recesses the affinities of a man or woman with the
open air -- the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night."
Whilst NOAH exalts on larks let's share marvelous
reptile monikers...Teachers in Needham, MA share a 20 lb. boa
constrictor with young school childen. The boa's name is
Julius Squeezer. No children have as yet been eaten by this
terribly dangerous reptile. Local CHS members have a tiny
snapper, named "Jaws." In accordance with Bulletin
policy, if I use what you write, I must use your name, so
don't send anything of which you may be embarrassed!
World Wildlife Fund provided $11,000 for a sea turtle
population study on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. While
this was the only project specifically aimed at herps, other
projects including funding for reserves and rainforest
studies benefit local reptiles and amphibians.
Turtle crossing signs have been posed in the Weaver area
of Wabasha County in southeastern Minnesota and motorists are
advised to slow down on the rural highway near Minneiska.
The only other area of the U.S. known to have turtle crossing
signs is Cape May, NJ.
In the never-ending debate on Salmonella and tiny
turles, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA
254: 237-239 & 265) and BioScience (38, 2: 76-79) have
added to the controversy. In the early 1970s, the Center
for Disease Control in Atlanta estimated that 280,000
cases or 14% of all cases of human salmonellosis in the US
could be classified as turtle associated. Ron Siebeling of
Lousiana State University in Baton Rouge has been studying
salmonella in turtles since 1974 and was instrumental in
working with some turtle farmers to develop an egg dipping
program which appears to produce disease-free hatchlings.
In 1975, the Food and Drug Administration enacted legislation
prohibiting the distribution or sale of red-eared sliders
within the US. Canada banned pet turtle importation in 1976.
From 1976 to 1978, over 1 million eggs were treated and
almost 2000 hatchlings examined for infection. Untreated
eggs showed a 70% infection rate versus 0.15% in treated
eggs. The turtle industry contacted the FDA and requested
a reversal of the domestic ban. Since the gentamicin sulfate
was labelled "for turkey egg dipping" and was not approved
for use on turtle eggs, the FDA could not allow domestic
marketing of these hatchlings. The Louisiana State
Legislature passed a bill requring all farmers to use the
"Siebeling method" of anitmicrobial sanitization to treat
turtles intended for export and pet distribution. However,
some farmers do not use the process. Recent figures suggest
that 3 to 4 million turtles a year are exported. Of these,
about 60% are shipped to the Far East. A sterile plastic
bubble has been invented to ship disease-free turtles,
isolated from contamination from other animals. If you have
comments on this issue, please write the Food and Drug
Administration, Washington, D.C. 20215.
The Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee would like to
thank each and every person who wrote supporting their
request for land acquisition funds for the Desert Tortoise
Natural Area and the Chuckwalla Bench Area. Congress
appropriated $600,000 from the Land and Water Conservation
Fund to purchase private inholdings on these properties.
They are trying to obtain additional funding. For
information on how you can help, contact: DTPC, P.O. Box 453,
Ridgecrest, CA 93555.
Former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter wrote that
rattlesnakes smell like bobwhite quail, which is why so many
bird dogs, sniffing ou their prey, wind up with snake bites!
Rattlesnake Roundups have suddenly become a "hot"
news item. It all began in the Chicago Tribune on April 24
with an article by Paul Weingarten. He wrote, "So now, in
one of the most quixotic crusades in the history of the
environmental movement, activists from 26 animal rights and
ecology groups in Texas have banded together to transform the
deadly rattlesnake into the latest ecological darling." The
lead-off article in Time Magazine, May 23 features a picture
of "Miss Snake Charmer" and a Texas rattlesnake. It looks as
though the snake's mouth has been sewn shut. Of the 15 or 16
paragraphs, only one voices any ecological concern. The
Tribune's address is 435 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
60610 and Letters to the Editors of Time can be addressed to
the Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, NY
10020 and must include writer's name, address and home phone.
I strongly urge everyone concerned with the rattlesnake
roundup issue to write Time and suggest a followup story on
dispensing gasoline in unlicensed containers, cruelty to
animals and ecological shortsightedness. Short and succinct
letters stand a better chance of being published, but an
outpouring of protest from the herp community couldn't hurt.
The Pine Barrens tree frog, the state of New Jersey,
Ocean City College, South America and Africa share a common
project. The college needed a bridge, state endangered tree
frogs lived in the swamp to be bridged, and the state
Department of Environmental Protection provided construction
requirements and details. The first choice material was a
super hardwood from South America, but civil disturbances
forced the use of bongossi wood from Africa which is so hard
that carpenters had to drill and peg the bridge together. A
five-year post construction survey will monitor use impact.
The 100 foot bridge spans the 6 foot stream with 150 foot
walls on either side of the bridge to prevent roadkills.
The New York Times reports on some behavior that must be
of paramount interest to Dr. Miller. Researchers have
determined that geckos incubated at 79 degrees hatched
female, while those at 90 degrees were males. They
also found that the few females that hatched from eggs at
higher temperatures ("hot females") behaved as if they were
males at maturity, courting "cold females" and repelling the
advances of true males. The researchers discovered that an
underlying effect of incubation temperature is to permanently
set the hormone balance of female geckos. Aggression in both
males and females appears to be related to incubation
temperatures since those incubated at high temperatures are
significantly more agressive than those from cooler eggs.
If you hear of any planned balloon launches, please try
to persuade the organizers to tether the balloons and bring
them down again after the ceremony as was done at the Pan
American games in Indianapolis. As balloon launches have
become more popular, beachcombers and researchers have been
finding increasing numbers of balloons at high tide mark -
and in the throats and stomachs of dead marine animals. A
recent launch used 500,000 balloons marked "Triangle
Coalition" from as many as 1,000 schools in an effort to map
weather patterns. Each balloon had a card to be mailed back
to the Coalition. An activist in New Jersey suggested that
cards found on New Jersey beaches should first be turned over
to the local authorities for littering citations!
The Brevard Sea Turtle Protection Society has been
prevented from using all-terrain vehicles to patrol beaches
at night. A member of the Society complained to the police
that spotlights on the estate of Gannett Company Chairman
Allen Neuharth were too bright. Bright lights disturb
nesting instincts and the city of Cocoa Beach has an
ordinance against them. Lights must be turned off along the
beaches in Brevard from May 1 to October 31. Cocoa Beach
police had inspected Neuharth's lights two weeks before the
complaint and asked that some of the lights be turned off.
The night of the complaint, Cocoa Beach police phoned
Neuharth and at 12:15 am, a police officer inspected the
lights and felt they violated the ordinance knocked on his
door. Neuharth told the officer that the lights were in
compliance and wrote a letter to the Mayor of Cocoa Beach
complaining of late night harrasment, "...I also know, as
I'm sure you do, that sea turtle soap-boxers are like all
other special-interest pressure groups. They get carried
away with their causes..." He also threatened a lawsuit if
he was bothered again. The day the letter was received, the
Sea Turtle Protection Society was told they could not use
their ATVs because they did not have a special permit, even
though city code enforcement and police officers have ridden
with group members for the past two years. The society
requested a special permit and received a written denial
from the Cocoa Beach City Manager. The President of the
Society, Peter Bandre said that the society will not be able
to patrol the 6 mile stretch of beach without the ATVs and
said, "As it is now, hatchlings in Cocoa Beach are doomed."
Since Gannett Publications produces USA Today, Mr. Neuharth
has a ready forum for his views and apparently has friends
at City Hall who will block any further permit requests.
This really seems a bit immature on Mr. Neuharth's part.
Certainly turning off a light or two at 12:15 am is not the
end of the world. All we can do is buy our local paper, not
USA Today, and hope that he will realize that many people
support conservation of sea turtles, even if that means he
cannot turn night into day on his exclusive beachfront
Memphis Zoo has successfully bred their Colorado River
toads. By the end of July, thousands of offspring will
transform. What's the best way to handle that many toads?
Charles Beck, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, joked,
"Stir-fried!" Seriously, the toads will be made available
for adoption by other zoos. They are also incubating seven
shield-nose cobra eggs which should hatch in about a month.
Beck said they have a "kind of cute little snub nose like a
bulldog or pomeranian."
A security guard in Orlando, FL saw an animal struck by
a car. He thought it was a cat, but it turned out to be a 4
pound, 9 inch Bufo marinus with a broken leg. A FL
biologist speculated that recent mild winters may have
enabled the toads to migrate further north than usual.
An endangered Lepidochelys kempii nested in a
specially constructed artificial beach in Clearwater, FL
intended to provide space for this imperiled species. The
young female laid 21 eggs which were later moved to a turtle
hatchery. It is not yet known whether the eggs are fertile.
The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA, just opened a
"Reptile Encounter." Included are anacondas, pythons, boas,
eyelash vipers, coral snakes, spiting cobras, sea turtles
and poison arrow frogs. The zoo hopes that visitors will be
more informed and positive about herpetofauna. San Diego
Zoo opened a tropical rain forest exhibit with crocodiles,
pythons, and water dragons as well as mammals and birds.
SDZ staff hope that the "Tiger River" display will heighten
awareness of the fragility of tropical ecosystems. Rodent
lovers will enjoy the new MouseHouse at the Bronx Zoo in New
York City. 32 species of snakefood are on display ranging
from a half-ounce mouse gerbil to 4 pound slender-tailed
cloud rats. When last seen, "Spot" was slithering east!
The unfortunate death of a 4-year-old girl in Englewood,
FL, and the concurrent publicity, may obscure some facts
about human/alligator relations. The child was throwing
rocks and kicking the water and may have even kicked the
alligator which seized the her then dragged her body away
where it was discovered after the animal had been killed by
FL Department of Game & Fish officials. Long-term residents
said that it is up to people to stay away from the gators,
but newer "seasonal" residents said that the pond ought to
be fenced and the animals eliminated. Since 1948, there
have been 95 "unprovoked" attacks in Florida - and 6 deaths.
Last year, 3,853 gators were killed by humans. According to
state game officials, the chance of being attacked is about
the same as getting struck by lightning. The first official
alligator hunt since 1962 will start September 1, up to
3,000 will be killed. This number is in addition to the
gators killed by private individuals and licensed hunters
after they have interfered with humans. Trapper Lee Kramer
was quoted, "Some say we've got a gator problem, but I say
it's a people problem. Most of the time folks get into
trouble when they start pestering the animal."
A baby alligator wandered into a back yard in Memphis,
TN, and has been claimed by a family and Memphis State
University. The school says the gator may be the same one
stolen last year, the family claims to have bought it for a
pet in LA. MSU will keep it pending the return of a biology
professor who will be able to determine if the marks on the
animal correspond to those used in his research project.
A swanky Manhattan restaurant is in hot water with
turtle fans after offering "Potage a la Tortue" in imitation
of the dinner in an Oscar-winning movie. The chef says that
the soup is made from snapping turtles. In Detroit, a New
York entrepeneur has opened the "Rattlesnake" restaurant,
and was photographed wearing one of those horrible, stuffed
rattler string tie clasps. According to the restaurant
critic of the Detroit Free Press, the food and service are
as terrible as the owner's taste in clothes.
The American Museum of Natural History is collaborating
with the National Park Service in a systematic survey of
an historic colony of box turtles - some of whom may have
been alive during the Civil War. 13 of the 375 turtles
marked in the study were also marked by John Treadwell
Nichols, a founder of the American Society of Ichthyologists
and Herpetologists, curator at AMNH, and a relative of the
family who owned the 613 acre estate. Since the Nichols
turtles were marked in the 1930's, the area around the
estate has been developed, eliminating habitat, and
increasing the use of pesticides, road salt, mowers, heavy
machinery, and trucks.
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center found 81 stranded sea
turtles in 1987. Only one, a Kemp's Ridley survived and was
returned to Florida. Of the 80 "dead on beach" turtles, one
leatherback was found to have balloons in his intestines
which had caused his death. The Center also "turtle sat" 4
loggerheads en route from NY to FL. Since MMSC is on a
shoestring budget, the turtles were fed oily mackerel which
may have helped them to pass the latex balloons which were
later found in their enclosure. I urge herpetologists to
support the MMSC, P.O. Box 773, Brigantine, NJ 08203.
Ellen Nicol, has reluctantly resigned the office of
secretary of the Gopher Tortoise Council, but will remain
the editor of their newsletter as well as processing dues
and maintaining the membership list. Russ Burke has devised
"a burrow bug" which can run a video camera into burrows.
You can contact him at (904) 574-2434 or 893-4153 if you
would like to rent the bug.
Diamond-backed terrapins in Sea Isle City, NJ are the
focus of an intensive educational effort. The turtles cross
roads to lay eggs and it seems some drivers deliberately run
over them. Schoolchildren have drawn posters, residents and
visitors "adopt" turtles and every year 25,000 "Sara the Sea
Isle Turtle" coloring books are distributed nationwide.
"Help a toad across the road" sign-thief was apprehended
and fined 25 pounds as well as being ordered to return the
toad-warning sign to the police. The Flora and Fauna
Preservation Society suggests that any such "interesting"
signs be strongly fixed to their posts. I wish they would
offer them for sale again. I'm sure plenty of American
frog/toad fanciers would like to hang one in the herp room.
Robert Zappalorti, was featured in "My Pine Barrens
Land," a television program broadcast by WNJS-TV, Camden,
NJ. He was shown tracking and examining a rare timber
rattlesnake. I saw him at the SSAR/HL/ASIH meeting last
week and must say stardom hasn't spoiled him a bit!
The Massachusetts Audubon Society has four herpetology
expeditions planned in 1988: Belize, Costa Rica, Australia,
and the Peruvian Amazon. For further information contact:
MA Audubon Society, Lincoln, MA 01773 (617) 259-9500.
A Tortoise Village is being constructed in the Massif
des Maures, in southern France. It will contain facilities
to breed and rehabituate Hermann's tortoises donated by the
public. For further information, write SOPTOM, c/o 84
Westboure Park Villas, Bayswater, London W2 5EB.
We usually think of Swedes as law-abiding, conservation-
ists, but for six months from July 1, 1987 to December 31,
1987 a relaxation of the ban on international trade led to a
total of 60,000 reptiles passing through the country on
their way to destinations worldwide, including the US. A
recent report highlights the deficiencies in Swedish imple-
mentation of CITES and indicates that their CITES measures
are effectively non-existent. The Swedish World Wildlife
Fund and the CITES Secretariat are considering measures to
improve the situation.
ROMMY, The First Phylogenetic Rock Opera premiered at
the SSAR/HL/ASIH meeting in Ann Arbor, MI. Performed by
people better known to the herpetological community for the
high quality of their research than their skill with an
electric guitar, this fast-paced and exciting show had
vibrancy, power and drive! "In jokes" abounded, but even my
12-year-old daughter understood and enjoyed the plot. In
brief, Rommy (CHS member, Paul Chippindale) seeks the best
way to make sense out of his research data. He is guided by
Randy Mooi, as "The Supervisor," Dr. Bogart (as himself)
and Dr. Phenetico (Bob Murphy). Les Lowcock outdid himself
on lead guitar and vocals, accompanied by Hugh Griffith,
Larry Licht, Ross MacCulloch and Bob Murphy who played his
drums with the abandon of that marvelous character from the
Muppets. ROMMY will be presented in Toronto in November and
possibly at the World Congress of Herpetology in Canterbury,
UK. Hopefully, they will make a video of this wonderful
performance - and make it available to herp societies
worldwide. If you have a chance to see it - GO!
Regular readers of, and contributors to this column know
that while members are encouraged to send in clippings, few
are ever thanked - by name - in print. I would like to make
a very special exception this month for Mr. William Burnett
of Memphis, TN. Ever since this publication was the "Newsletter"
he and his mother sent in every herp-related clipping they can find! My personal thanks to everyone who contributed this month.
Chinese fossils will be exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Boston Museum of Science and the
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in 1988 and 1989. Dr.
Eugene Gaffney, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at AMNH selected
fossils from the Beijing Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and
Paleonanthropology with an emphasis on those which illuminate the
origins of modern turtles, crocodiles and mammals. The exhibition,
"From the Land of Dragons," will include 23 specimens from AMNH and 42
fossils from China. The exhibit will illustrate current research on
the sequence of evolution. Traditionally, scientists have grouped
species on the basis of general resemblances and the dating of fossil
remains. Currently, the order in which the identifying
characteristics evolved is used to establish relationships. To
visually diagram the branching of various groups, drawings (called
cladograms) will be on display with the fossils. Dr. Gaffney said he
"didn't pick the biggest and most bizarre," but a 24-foot long slab of
rock containing the skeletons of nine dicynodonts and a skeleton
of a 40-foot long Datosaurus can certainly be considered both
big and bizarre!
The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission approved the
trapping and killing of up to 3,425 alligators in 28 designated areas
during the 30-day fall alligator season. Each hunter has been given a
15 animal limit. More than 5,000 hunters met the deadline to apply
for the 235 licenses offered in Florida's first legal alligator hunt
in 25 years. The hunts will occur at night. Trappers will have to
use snares, harpoons, spears or similar weapons to get the animal
close enough to kill. The only firearm allowed is a "bangstick," a
pole with a shotgun shell on the end that is used to kill a gator once
it is snared and brought next to a boat. The license fee for Florida
residents is $250, plus a $30 tag fee for each alligator killed.
Non-Floridians will pay $1,000 plus the tag fee. All licensed hunters
will have to attend a six-hour training session in early August.
Gator meat sells for $5 a pound and the record sales price for the
hides is $42.72 per linear foot (February, 1988). The alligator
population in Florida has doubled since 1973 to its present total of
about 1 million animals. The "nuisance alligator program" has been
killing about 3,000 per year since 1962.
A catfish farmer in Mississippi has found his affection for nature
stretched a little too far. Sherman Yates said he has always loved
wildlife, but when he saw a 300-pound alligator with "a whole mouthful
of my fish," he just had to call in the authorities. He said, "I've
heard of being generous, but let's not get ridiculous." The gator
apparently came from the Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge seeking food
and water in the midst of the drought. Catfish harvesting at the pond
has been temporarily halted awaiting the arrival of Game and Fish
Memphis State University is willing to give up the gator they
claimed might have been part of a research project to the family who
said it was their pet. Dr. Jim Payne, Chairman of MSU's biology
department said that the Robertson family can have the gator, but he
added, "I don't think it's a very good idea to have an alligator for a
pet, much less giving one to a 5-year-old boy."
A National Geographic film crew, is working on an Explorer
segment to be aired on TBS-Cable in the fall. The producer, Susan
Winslow, said that scenes of alligators in their natural habitat will
be intercut with film from the Orlando area showing "nuisance
alligators." Kent Vliet, a biologist with the University of Florida,
who has filmed alligators close enough to touch (in the breeding
season, no less!) commented, "by definition, a nuisance alligator is
one the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission gets a call on, whether
it's doing anything or not." There was an increase in complaints
following the incident in Englewood in June. Dennis David, an
alligator biologist with the game and fish commission said they "get
50 to 75 calls a year...big gators eating people's cats, things like
that...More callers seem to be just concerned about a gator in their
lake. We offer the same assurances we always have." Those assurances
include a suggestion not to feed alligators which may lead to the
animals losing their natural fear of man. They also recommend not
swimming in areas known to have alligators and most specifically not
swimming at night.
How to get laws passed against big snakes... An 8-foot long
Burmese python disappeared in April from its owner's Northglen, CO
apartment where it had been loose while a custom tank was being built.
Animal experts searched everywhere, but found no trace of the 60-pound
snake and guessed that "Baby" had slithered down a toilet or out
through a hole in the wall. The Chicago Tribune reported on July 11th
that a new tenant in the same apartment opened a cupboard drawer and
found the snake. The snake's owner was delighted and apparently the
new tenant was overwhelmed as well.
Fun City is really an urban jungle according to George S.
Watford, head of rescue services for the New York City chapter of the
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Last year,
the Society aided 5,304 exotic animals - a category that includes
everything except dogs and cats. Keeping exotic animals is against
New York City health codes, but Watford has seen alligators, baboons,
bears, caimans, chimpanzees and giant snakes in his 28 years on the
job. He said nothing tops the 16-foot Burmese python that police
discovered protecting a drug dealer's apartment in the borough of
Queens. "I've never seen anything that large, anything that weighed
more than me in the snake area. And I weigh 200 pounds," he added.
The Society was involved with a sea turtle found in a bathroom in
Manhattan and terrariums full of spitting cobras in Queens which had
killed their owner. Once captured, exotic animals are given to zoos,
sent to animal farms or released in the wild when possible. Watford
said, "We take a dim view of the killing of any animal."
The Wall Street Journal had a quite unsympathetic article about
Allen Neuharth's brush with the Brevard County Sea Turtle Society and
quoted a letter he wrote to the mayor, "I have literally helped put
Cocoa Beach on the map." The mayor replied, "Following lengthy review
of this matter, the City Manager and Police Chief have issued clear
instructions that should prevent any recurrence of the type of action
to which you were subjected."
Florida State Wildlife Officers arrested four people and
confiscated 1,088 sea turtle eggs after a stake out on a beach known
to be a nest site for threatened loggerhead and endangered green sea
turtles. The suspects apparently raided 10 or more nests in one
evening and were caught with eggs in their car about 75 miles north of
Miami. The maximum penalty is $1,000 and a year in jail.
Unfortunately, the eggs were retrieved too late to save them.
Wheezing like an exhausted Darth Vader, female leatherbacks
struggle up Malaysian beaches to lay eggs unaware that official egg
catchers are stowing them in sacks to be incubated at enclosed
hatching areas. Local residents are allowed to harvest eggs only
after 40,000 young have hatched and made it to the ocean. Nesting sea
turtles also attract international tourists. Even though pamphlets
aimed at tourists discourage bothering nesting females, the behavior
of some local turtle watchers can be appalling, especially on Thursday
nights - the start of the Muslim weekend. Peak laying season is late
August, but turtles appear almost every night from July on. For
further information, write the Malaysian Tourist Information Center,
818 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017.
Health problems in a population of snapping turtles and other "top
end" predators are an indication of continuing pollution problems in
the Great Lakes. The New York Times reports the turtles have impaired
reproduction and exhibit a "wasting syndrome" which involves
inexorable weight loss and body deformities. The causes of this
ongoing pollution problem are subtle but include: leaching hazardous
waste sites, disturbed river sediments which hold poisons deposited
years ago and farm runoff. Additionally, some otherwise unexplained
poisons fell from the skies from sources as far away as Latin America.
Toxic chemicals continue to recycle through the food web, from water
to top predator, to decaying predator corpse and back into the water
again. Also, unknown pounds of long-banned toxins lie at the bottoms
of tributary rivers and are continually washing down into the lakes.
The good news is that the problem is being studied at all and I hope
that the U.S. and Canada can come to an agreement to work on this
subtle, complex and expensive situation.
"A stirring eve of hiss 'n' tell" was the title of the Chicago
Tribune Tempo article about the June CHS meeting. Magda Krance and a
photographer attended our annual extravaganza and produced a
well-written and informative article about our members and their pets.
I thought from watching the photographer at work that he was primarily
taking pictures of snakes, but when the article was published, half
the pictures were of 6-foot or less snakes and half were of turtles.
Ms. Krance repeated several of Martin Turunen's horribly punny snake
names including Jake the Snake, Monty Python, Othello the black king
snake, Sneka and David Boa. She continued, "Nothing brings out the
members, though, like the Show & Tell, which may say something about
their exhibitionist tendencies, or at least their bravery. These,
after all, are people eager to stand up and speak publicly while
trying to control writhing, sometimes recalcitrant reptiles." All in
all we should be very pleased about this article - quite a change from
articles about escaped snakes, killer gators and irresponsible herp
Dear Readers, and most especially Newsletter editors Part 2...
Although most of you have gotten much better about sourcing the CHS
crediting the author (usually me). I'm sure you know how long it
takes you to type and edit your newsletters. Since my column is
LONGER than the usual offenders' ENTIRE publications, I'm sure you can
appreciate how long it takes me to write (not copy) the items in this
column and will understand my prideful request for specific
acknowledgement. I would hate to have to publically mention each and
every one of you in a future column...
Thanks to all who contributed this month! Keep those cards,
letters, and clippings coming...I do truly appreciate your help!
Last month, I mentioned a population of snapping turtles with heath
problems. An alert reader sent me some additional details...A midwife
on Cornwall Island called a Ward Stone, a biologist at the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation and asked if there was
any connection between his survey of local wildlife and the illnesses
she had observed in the people and animals of the Island. He looked,
and discovered very high levels of heavy metals, pesticides and toxic
chemicals in the flesh of snapping turtles. The PCB concentration was
as high as 800 parts per million (ppm). The law of the state of New
York considers anything over 50 ppm hazardous waste. Cornwall Island
lies in the middle of the St. Lawrence River between New York State
and Ontario, Canada. It is chilling to think that this area is
drenched in toxic chemicals when we read in our history books that the
water of the St. Lawrence was drinkable during our Revolutionary War.
The Senate passed the Endangered Species Act reauthorization 93-2
on Thursday, July 28th, 1988, four years after the original
authorization expired on October 1, 1985 and seven months after the
House voted 399-16 for a similar package to renew the program. Final
action depends on House and Senate negotiators working out differences
between the House and Senate versions of the bill. However, the
Senate approved a compromise concerning TEDs that will delay
implementation until May, 1989. Additionally, a state circuit court
judge in South Carolina put a restraining order on the use of TEDs in
that state. Even though 2,000 adult carcasses have washed up on South
Carolina beaches and the fact that there are less than 600 nesting
Kemp's ridley females worldwide the shrimpers claim that beachfront
development and dredging along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts has
reduced nesting habitat killing more turtles than they do. South
Carolina state officials are studying an appeal of the order. In
July, a United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the
legality of the Federal regulation adopted last year and ordered
shrimpers to start using the devices September 1. Horribly, the end
of August is the end of the nesting season for 1988. I wonder how
many will die before TEDs are in use.
Two Kemps ridley sea turtles hatched in mid-August at the Clearwater
Marine Science Center in Florida. UPI reported that the one
ounce, palm-sized babies are believed to be the first hatched in
captivity. Meanwhile, the state of Florida has advised all who hold
permits allowing them to move sea turtle eggs to leave them alone, if
at all possible. Research has shown that moving eggs changes the
temperature of the hatchlings and therefore their sex. "Cooler" eggs
produce more males - which isn't especially helpful for endangered
populations. The state also urged local governments to limit the use
of beach cleaning machines. Now the $64,000 questions - can they
keep ATV's, illegal harvesters, predators and other slime away from
the eggs; and wouldn't it be simpler to use artificial sources of heat
on the protected (moved) eggs?
Setting precedent in DuPage County, charges of keeping
life-threatening reptiles were dropped at the request of Assistant
Illinois State's Attorney Carmen Polo. He said, "We would have had to prove that the snakes are life-threatening to people, and the
herpetologist we consulted couldn't really testify in good faith
that ... a python doesn't really attack anything it can't eat. The
law against keeping dangerous animals apparently was designed to
prevent people from harboring venomous reptiles like cobras." It's
kind of a shame that Tom Fabing's prosecutor didn't come to the same
Oldies radio station WCXR-FM in Rockville, Maryland withdrew their
live turtles from a turtle race and replaced them with mechanical toys
after complaints were received that the animals were being exploited.
The turtle race was planned to promote a concert by the 1960's group,
Steve Reichling, of the Memphis Zoo recently collected three
hellbenders under permit from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
from the Spring River. Hellbender habitats at the zoo have cool,
running water and plenty of oxygen in the water. They have been
decreasing in the wild as rivers with cool, running water and plenty
of oxygen have been destroyed or modified by man. The zoo hopes to
breed its ugly but nifty amphibians.
Widespread population decline of native amphibians has
researchers "toad-ally" mystified reports High Country News. U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service biologists in northern Colorado and southern
Wyoming are unable to find leopard frogs and boreal toads in over 90%
of their native habitat. In the San Juan Mountains of New Mexico and
the Wasatch Range in Utah, entire populations are gone. Although
biologists suspect that acid rain, toxics, pesticides, development and
other habitat destruction may be responsible, none have been able to
determine exactly why. Colorado biology professor Cindy Carey said,
"In my view they're a critical indicator species. Something's killing
them, and it's very widespread. What does that mean in terms of the
future of other species, or people for that matter?"
"Buyer Beware!" a booklet available from The World Wildlife Fund,
1250 - 24th St., NW, Washington, DC 20037, lists
guidelines on U.S. restrictions on import of products made from
endangered species. Reptiles skins and leathers are made into shoes,
belts, handbags and other nauseating items. If companies or
individuals bring or import these items into the U.S., the items will
be seized and the malefactor fined. If you see these items displayed
or advertised, the local enforcement department of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife would like to know:
Enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, The Lacey Act, The CITES
Treaty and The Marine Mammal Protection Act is complicated by wildlife
being illegally killed or collected in one country, smuggled into
another, and then exported with false permits to a third, which makes
its origin hard to trace.
products made from most crocodile
skins (here you need the booklet!);
- most lizardskin products
originating in Brazil, Paraguay, and a number of Asian countries,
including India, Nepal, and Pakistan;
many snakeskin products
originating in Latin America - including Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and
Paraguay - and some Asian countries like India; and
- all sea turtle
products, including tortoiseshell jewelry and combs, leather, eggs,
food products, and creams and cosmetics made with turtle oil.
While we're on the subject of reptile "fashion," how do CHS members
feel about fake snake, mock turtle and pseudo lizard? I always
thought that using fake furs, feathers, fins, leather, etcetera was a
step in the right direction - but recently a good friend, and CHS
board member was upset that I have a handbag with a strip of plastic
snake. (I also have several fake belts, combs, pins and so forth -
the legacy of presents and purchases over many years.) His point, and
a valid one upon reflection, was that using anything that looks like
reptile may encourage demand for reptilian accessories and pressure on
endangered populations. Now I'm wondering how others feel about this.
The stench of 1,500 dead baby crocodiles alerted the authorities to an
illegal shipment of 8,000 from Colombia to Taiwan. Illegal trade in
endangered wildlife has boomed to an estimated "value" of $1.5 billion
a year. The CITES Treaty has been ratified by 95 countries, including
the U.S., most of Latin America (but not Mexico), and many Asian,
African and European nations. Signatories are supposed to enforce
bans on commercial trade in endangered species. Jean-Patrick Le Duc,
an enforcement official for the CITES organization, said total trade -
both legal and illegal, in wildlife amounts to $5 billion a year -
with illegal trade about 30% of the total.
Although I am not in any way attempting to link this statistic with
the previous paragraph, the Pet Industry Joint Action Council reported
that in 1987, Americans spent $22.9 million on reptiles and
amphibians. I am really pleased by the number of price lists I
receive from dealers who list all their stock as captive-bred. This
takes an immense amount of pressure off wild-caught animals and is
certainly an activity to be encouraged. Unfortunately, some pet store
people don't seem to be plugged into the network of dealers and are
still offering lots of captured animals. Do conservation a big favor
when you are through with your pricelists, give them to a pet store
owner with wild stock!
A local pet store recently offered "Aquatic Turtles, 1/2 off." I just
had to wonder which half!
Nearly 40 community service and animal-control officers attended a
class in early August on how to handle snakes and other unusual
"animal problems." Al Jurs, president of the Illinois Animal Control
Association reported that western Chicago area police have had half a
dozen snake reports in six years and two have involved constrictors
over 7 1/2 feet. On June 18, Rolling Meadows police beat a fox snake
to death in a restaurant parking lot with their nightsticks. After
public complaints to the police, his organization arranged the class.
John Mellyn, a CHS member from Wauconda, demonstrated proper handling
techniques using a few non-poisonous snakes, a 9 foot boa, a pygmy
crocodile, a Gila monster, a snapping turtle and a malnourished
alligator which had been found in Crystal Lake! Newspaper photographs
show John coaxing the boa into a plastic trash can and coaxing
an animal-control officer to handle a very small snake.
The only park in Queensland, Australia offering insight into the
nature of saltwater crocodiles celebrated its 13th birthday this year.
The Drum reports that their collection includes yellow-faced whip
snakes, taipans, other snakes, lizards, monitors, tortoises, fresh and
saltwater crocs and a 1.6kg cane toad (Bufo marinus) named "Mighty
Martha." Peter and Ann Richardson, the owners of the Dreamtime Reptile
Reserve, to encourage a greater understanding and tolerance of
Typical, typical... Special Publication 6 of the Illinois Natural
History Survey, titled "The Natural Resources of Illinois:
Introduction and Guide" contains only two pages on snakes and
amphibians are shunned even though reptiles and amphibians constitute
a significant number of Illinois vertebrate animals. If you still
want a copy, send $10 to the INHS, 607 E. Peabody Dr., Champaign, IL
CHS member Karen Furnweger was among the dedicated volunteers who
conducted this year's Frog and Toad survey for the Illinois Department
of Conservation. Surveyors travel a 10-mile route, stopping every 1/2
mile and counting frog and toad calls three times during the breeding
season. This year was more difficult than usual because of our
drought. However, the routes chosen for the Survey may not be ideal,
according to an experienced local herpetologist. The routes follow
those of the bird survey, and we all know that frogs don't fly. I
worked a route last year with Ken Mierzwa and Steve Barton. One of
the stops was exactly in front of a gas station in beautiful, downtown
Barrington - completely surrounded by suburbanization on all four
sides. Dutifully we stopped and listened and heard nothing but cars,
people, and dogs. The IDOC might wish to add other, potentially more
fertile routes for the 1989 survey.
Our generation had dime store red-ears, kids today have Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles, heroes on the half shell. More than 100 TV stations
will show the animated cartoon series starting October 1. There's
even a Turtle Force Fan Club, and a video!
A 7 foot tall scaly lizard with glowing red eyes reportedly attacked a
Bishopville, South Carolina man while he was changing a tire in June.
In July, a woman reported that her car was scratched and clawed near
the swamp. Local residents are calling the creature "Lizard Man." A
local radio station offered $1 million for its capture after 14 inch
footprints appeared on a dusty road. The sheriff is sending plaster
casts to the FBI. Entrepreneurs are hawking Lizard Man T-shirts and
the whole episode threatens to put Bishopville on the map and keep
several tabloids busy for months!
With stories like the last two maybe we should change the "Dog
Days" of August to "Reptile Days!" Thanks to everybody who
contributed this month - from Southern New Jersey to sunny California
and points in between - dedicated CHS members send articles and
clippings without which this column would be much shorter than it is.
Will you join these special people? Please address your contributions to me, c/o CHS...
The Pacific Northwest Herp Society strikes again! Some promoters
from El Paso, Texas who had worked with the Warden Lions Club last
year on a a rattlesnake roundup (RRU) tried to get the Mount Tahoma
High School to use one of these reprehensible events for a fund
raiser. Dick Dorsett and others from PNHS, convinced the school of
its need for massive insurance - and the event was cancelled. PNHS
also put together a successful live reptile show for another high
school which had been interested in an RRU. Way to go!
Atlantic City gamblers are warned not to let frogs cross their
path on their way to the casino. Seems only bad luck may follow.
With the current increase in urbanization in Atlantic County, pretty
soon there won't be any frogs to worry about...
A stuffed frog is available to help students study anatomy
without sacrificing animals. The 39-inch soft sculpture opens to
reveal major organs arranged in lifelike order. Designed by Nannette
Henderson, 1987 teacher of the year among North Carolina community
colleges and costs about $100.
1,389,734 pounds of frogs' legs were imported into the U.S. from
January to May this year, of which approximately 75 percent were from
Bangladesh. However, that country joined India and China in a frog
export ban scheduled to last three years due to an insect population
explosion. Frog-leg freaks may be in for a dry spell since only one
frog-farm, Frogleg Ranch, remains in Florida. It ships up to a ton of
frogs' legs a day. Bill Seefeldt, owner of Life Cycles Research
Company in Dade County, Florida announced recently that his company
will have meaty, farm-raised albino bullfrogs on the market by 1990.
Ever heard of an explosive hardened frog? (A railroad frog is the
curved metal piece which permits trains to be moved from one track to
another.) Seems as though railroads in the U.S. have had early
maintenance failures with their manganese frogs and spring frogs and
have issued written rules telling their field workers just when to
repair or remove their frogs. Now, is there a market for explosive
manganese frog legs?
200 to 400 tadpoles have been recalled by the owner of a garden
supply center in Newcastle, northern England, prompted by fears that
- when mature - the bullfrogs may gobble up the gentler denizens of
British garden ponds. U.S. Rep. Jack Buechner (R-Missouri) issued a
statement which said, "lest the tiny creatures of Britain croak, it is
far better that our Missouri bullfrogs be recalled. Sounds like a
horror film - `The Bullfrogs That Ate Britain'..." The owner of the
garden center said that environmentalists were - after all - leaping
to the conclusion that the pet frogs would be released in the wild.
Alligators of tremendous size, flushed down New York City toilets
have been a staple of the urban legend circuit for years. Now the
city's Department of Environmental Protection is selling a tee-shirt
which shows an alligator crawling out of a manhole, with the caption
"The Legend Lives." If you know someone in the Big Apple - send 'em
seven bucks and tell them to call the DEA at City Hall to get you one.
Worried about being eaten by a crocodile in Australia? The
Territory Insurance Office in Sydney is offering insurance policies
which offer a payout of $40,465. The premiums are $8.10 for six
months. The only drawback is the attack must be fatal.
A pet that bit off the arm that fed her will be reunited with her
owner of 23 years. "Charlene," a 6.5 foot saltwater croc had been
exiled to a crocodile farm after the attack. The owner said, "It was
my fault...I put my hand in the bucket and didn't give her a fish."
He claims he will be keeping the pet at an arm's length. The question
is, which arm?
"More dangerous than gators" is what a veteran trapper calls the
press and protestors in Florida's first sanctioned gator hunt in 25
years. Hunt protestors include environmentalists, animal rights
activists and folks who didn't get one of the 238 licenses issued this
year. With the hide and meat worth up to $1,000, interfering in a
gator hunt can be costly - and not just to the animal. Dennis David,
the alligator-program coordinator for the Florida Game and Freshwater
Fish Commission suggests that as hunters profit from the hunts, they
will "develop as a constituency to rally behind protection of the
habitat where these creatures reside." In other words, when you're up
to your arse in alligators - don't drain the swamp, protect it!
After 18 years of cautious courtship, a pair of radiated tortoises
at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo became the proud parents of a trio of
tiny tortoises. Another clutch is expected to hatch later this year.
LPZ's Zoo Review reported, "The moral of the story? Slow but steady
wins the rance - and for the endangered Madagascar radiated
tortoise, it may just help win the race against extinction."
The 59th Annual Krebs, Oklahoma Turtle Derby raised about $5,000
for the town of 1,800. Local children gather box turtles which are
released after the race. Previous events have built the town hall,
the fire house, purchased fire trucks and other needed community
improvements. Pittsburg County used to be even more productive of
turtles than it is now. A town councilman was quoted that the local
kids "used to bring 'em in by the hundreds." Whether this is due to
effort on the part of the collectors, habitat decline or other causes
was not mentioned in the article.
A colony of turtles that lived in the Freer Gallery of Art have
been split up among the employees for temporary housing while the
Florentine Renaissance style museum is being renovated. Years ago a
staff member had released a pair in the courtyard fountain, the
parents of those currently displaced. A Smithsonian spokesman said
that all the turtles and their offspring will be returned to the
courtyard after construction has been completed. Maybe they should
start a Smithsonian Turtle Club!
Although shanghaied by tourists to Ohio, "Buckeye," a gopher
tortoise, was returned to his home state through the kindness of a
nature center, an Audubon Society Chapter and Piedmont Airlines. The
tortoise had been released on a 200-acre wildlife preserve in Ohio and
was taken to the nature center but it wouldn't eat. So, Rebecca
Evans, an intern at the center, called Piedmont and asked if they
could fly him home! They did and Marilyn Kershner, Tampa Audubon
Society President, picked him up at the airport, had him checked by a
vet and released him at Upper Tampa Bay Park. Reportedly, when she
put him down, she told him to "Go-pher it!" There is however a serious
side to this story... Removing gopher tortoises from Florida is not
only cruel but against the law and since no one knows exactly where
"Buckeye" was taken from - it was impossible to return him to his real
home. Releasing animals in an area from which they did not originate
can cause many problems: they may be immune to disease agents which
against which the new population has no defense (think about what
happened to the American Indians when they caught smallpox from the
Europeans!); they may harbor parasites; they can interfere with
scientific study results; they may not be able to handle the weather
and predators in the foreign location; and they may alter the local
gene pool. So when in doubt, don't release - contact a knowledgable
local herpetologist/biologist for his or her best recommendation for
a safe release site. There are some areas such as North Park Village
in Chicago that are isolated from wild populations and have been so
completely altered from their original state that reintroductions are
not only permitted, but encouraged. Try to find a place like this for
animals for which foreign release is the only option. Please do not
release animals in an environment which will be deadly for them. Poor
"Buckeye" would have died in Ohio's winter if a local predator didn't
get him first. Another thing this story brings to mind is for us to
try not to collect anything which we are not willing to keep forever
or committed enough to return the creature to precisely where it came
Hurricane Gilbert may have altered or destroyed the beach at
Rancho Nuevo Sea Turtle Sanctuary, the only known breeding location
for the extremely endangered Kemp's ridley turtle. The 15-mile
stretch of beach on Mexico's northern Gulf coast was directly in the
path of the center of the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded
history. What the turtles will do when they find their beach changed
or gone is unknown. It is believed that baby turtles "imprint" on
some unknown feature of their "birth beach" and return to it when they
are old enough to breed. In 1947, naturalists counted more than
40,000 female turtles ashore and nesting at Rancho Nuevo. However, in
the last two seasons, only about 500 turtles have used the beach each
year. Mexican marines guard the beaches with "shoot-to-kill" orders
to deter egg poachers. In an effort to establish a second breeding
location, about 2,000 eggs a year are removed from the sanctuary and
hatched on Padre Island Nation Seashore near Corpus Christi, Texas.
The "headstart" program was started in 1978 and it seems as though the
released turtles are either not old enough to breed, or are not using
the Padre Island site. There have been a couple of isolated reports
of female Ridleys at Padre Island, but it is not known whether these
were part of the headstart program. Shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of
Mexico are resisting the use of Turtle Excluder Devices which would
reduce their waste finfish and turtle catch. The shrimpers claim the
"dead zone" around the mouth of the Mississippi, loss of habitat and
water pollution are more responsible for the turtle's decline than
they are. I wonder if they have ever heard the phrase, "If you're not
part of the solution - you're part of the problem?"
A large-volume dealer in exotic leathers sent a flier advertising
his "great discounts" on large quantity orders of snakeskin, iguana,
lizard, elephant and other animal skins which have been made into
boots to a member of the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society.
Persons who find this type of product objectionable are urged to write
the manufacturer: Cowtown Boots, PO Box 26428, El Paso, Texas 79926.
Which is more dangerous to the other... men to cottonmouths, or
visa versa? Dr. Charles Blem, a professor of biology at Virginia
Commonwelath University in Richmond, has been studying the habits of
brown and northern water snakes and water moccasins for 12 years. He
said that the cottonmouths are "...a fragile population. Developers
build on the hibernation sites, then they come up in somebody's back
yard and get clubbed. If you come back to the Appomattox River study
area in 10 years, between the snake hunting and the destruction of
habitat...I bet the cottonmouths will be gone altogether."
Accidentally or on purpose a water snake was shipped inside a
hose attachment from a vacuum cleaner plant in France to a home in
Wales. "It gave us a hell of a shock," said the Welsh homeowner, "It
was a greeny-brown color, with a white collar. I've never seen
anything like it." Talk about living in a vacuum!
Secret Service 2, snakes 0. Agents guarding Mrs. Dukakis shot and
killed two snakes after the animals frightened the candidate's wife
while she was visiting friends in Nantucket. She was even sent to a
hospital to be checked for venom! The deceased are believed by
herpetologists to have been harmless, ordinary milk snakes. I'm
surprised that highly educated people like Mrs. Dukakis and the
Secret Service agents didn't consider that the snakes were most likely
harmless. OK, herpetologists...let's redouble our education efforts
in 1989 - maybe even set up a milk snake "defense fund" to illustrate
Bob Zappalorti was called in by the 5-member police department of
Island Heights, New Jersey to capture "Colossus," a 3-foot, escaped
golden tegu. Police had been getting reports of a crocodile-like
animal roaming the streets for about a month and then captured a
2-foot lizard on someone's lawn. When the owner showed up to claim
this one - he confessed to police that Colossus had escaped too.
Apparently someone left the tops off their cages... The Atlantic City
Press called Bob "a local version of `Crocodile Dundee'." That's
probably the only thing about this incident he will remember with
fondness. Now I know that the tegu's owner isn't a C.H.S. member and
hasn't been exposed to our relentless (and righteous) nagging on the
subject of the responsibility of reptile ownership, but I simply find
it hard to believe that anyone could be so STUPID as to forget to
properly cage TWO lizards at the same time. Don't be in the least
surprised if in a couple of months the Atlantic County Commissioners
enact a regulation prohibiting the ownership of at least some kinds of
reptiles. It's people like this - as I've said before - that get the
rest of us in trouble. So, if you know of reptile keepers that don't
belong to at least one herp society (preferably this one) URGE them to
join. We can't protect ourselves from restrictive regulation if we
don't prove to the powers that be that a lot of us are responsible and
concerned pet owners - just like cat fanciers, birders and dog owners.
Have you had a shocking, melting or burning experience with a
Terrafauna, Inc. "Sizzle Stone," "Hot Block" or other reptile heating
device? If so, please write to Dez Crawford, P.O. Box 80747, Baton
Rouge, LA 70898. He's collecting accounts of incidents and requests
that you type (or write so he can read it) a letter outlining: when,
where and how the accident occurred; the kind of animal involved; how
long you had the product; whether or not the product got wet; and any
other details relating to the occurrence. Your report will be
submitted to a Federal government compliance officer who is
researching the safety of these products.
An anonymous herp. society published a request from their
conservation committee for dead land developers. They are offering a
ten-cent bounty. Now you know who you are and I just want to tell you
that as humorous as this may appear on the surface - this kind of fun
and games could seriously impact our attempts at serious, working
relationships with developers in the future. None of them have
suggested killing us, just raping and pillaging our own Mother Earth
and all her creatures. No matter our personal feelings, let's be
The marketing of inappropriate animals for pets prompted a letter
from New York Turtle and Tortoise Society member, Allen Salzberg to
the New York Times. He says, "This marketing has included the sale
of every type of animal from monkeys and lions to poisonous snakes and such relatively common animals as the Malayan snail-eating
turtle...which starves to death within one year of captivity...the
illicit marketing of other "exotic" animals by the pet industry needs
to be scrutinized more by the press and the government." Now let's
all try to convince our regulators not to ban the possession of all
"exotic" reptiles - just the ones that don't do well as pets. Our own Dr. Mike Miller is putting together a list of "likely-to-die" herps for the upcoming edition of the C.H.S. "Care-in-Captivity" series. Please send your suggestions for animals to be included on this list to me (at the address inside the front cover) and I will pass them along to him. If we don't get together and decide, we may very well end up with another ridiculous law like the Illinois legislation banning so-called "dangerous reptiles."
Wanna frogwatch in Will County? Dave Mauger, Natural Resource Manager with the Forest Preserve District of Will County, has
initiated "Project Frogwatch." The methodology and goals are
probably similar to the Illinois Frog and Toad Survey - and he needs
volunteers. If you would like to listen to frogs get sexy - call Dave
at (815) 727-8700. Projects like this can be a lot of fun for the
participants, I've even heard of human romances that began as
Clippings are respectively requested from all of you who haven't
yet invested your 25-cents in this column. Five avid newspaper
watchers contributed this month. Out of our membership of about 850
that's a percentage so low I couldn't get my adding machine to work it
out! (By hand, it rounded out to 5 one hundreths of one percent.)
PLEASE send clippings, notes, letters, etc. to me, c/o CHS. Your
help will be most gratefully appreciated - not only by me - but by
every C.H.S. member!
Fun City as Urban Jungle, part 2... Notes from Noah reports that
more than 8,000 dogs bit humans in one year. The next runners up are:
people biting other people - 802; hampsters nibbling people - 72,
snakes biting people - 18 and finally, 15 incidents of rabbit bites.
According to the New York Daily News of June 6, 1988, two snapping
turtles - each weighing over 50-pounds - were discovered by sewage
treatment workers in the Bronx Grid Chamber, a facility which removes
large objects from effluent prior to treatment. An ASPCA spokesman
said that snappers get into the sewers during heavy rains, when
floodgates that normally keep river water out are opened due to the
heavy flow. I wonder if the ASPCA workers' slogan should be "it was a
dirty job, but somebody had to do it?"
The first report of a heretofore unknown salamander, Ambystoma
tigeinum, was recently published in a regional herp. society
newsletter. Ok, so it's just a silly typo - but think of the lasting
impact some silly typos of herpetological history have had. The prime
example is the name of Ambystoma itself. In the original
description the animal was called both Ambystoma and
Amblystoma. This would seem to be a massive situation of "so
what" except for the fact that herpetologists have been arguing over
the describer's intended meaning ever since. Some have twisted logic
and themselves inside and out and have suggested Ambystoma is a
contraction of "ana stoma buein" which supposedly means something like
"to cram into the mouth." Others have proposed it was formed from the
Greek words "ambyx" and "stoma" which would render "cup-mouth" and a
third school (myself included) feel that Amblystoma is probably
what Tschudi had in mind in the first place. Amblystoma would be
composed of "amblys" meaning "blunt" and "stoma" meaning "mouth." Both
words are Greek and since describers have a marvelous habit of
stealing word parts from one another, for example, the use of "amblys"
for the marine iguanas and numerous other critters, readily suggests
that Tschudi's typesetter screwed up royal which is not hard to do
when you are trying to exactly place little pieces of lead upside down
and backwards at a profitable speed. Now really, fellow herpers, in
this day and age of electronic typewriters and computers - can't we
take a few extra moments to proofread? Some poor schmucks in the 24th
century may spend three weeks of their lives trying to find the type
specimen for this spurius Ambystoma.
More information on Salmonella in tiny turtles was recently
provided by Mary Anderson of Roanoke, VA in the Tucson Herpetological
Society Newsletter. Apparently, in summarizing articles from JAMA and
BioScience (see Bull. Chi. Herp. Soc. 23(6)97-98), I left out two very
important facts: 1) Salmonella bacteria is often latent and/or its
count is too low to detect until the turtle is under stress; and 2)
turtles can easily be recontaminated by the bacteria. Additionally,
she wrote of recent (illegal) shipments to five mid-western states.
All had been certified as disease-free by the Louisiana Livestock
Sanitary Board - but, when tested by the Wisconsin State Hygiene
Laboratory, two lots registered 66% and 70% infected. She wrote, "In
addition to all this, there is the danger of creating gentamicin
resistant Salmonella and Arizona as has been found when the
dip gentamicin is used for poultry. Also it is well known that the
dip treatment has not brought the solution to the problem of
Salmonella in turkeys for which it was approved by the FDA...It is
important that letters be written to FDA
Food and Drug
Administration, Washington, DC 20215...You can be sure that
there will be no shortage of letters from the turtle industry and pet
dealers." I am truly sorry if I misled any of our readers into
thinking that the egg-dip was the miracle cure for Salmonella and
I wish I had the additional sources of information available to Ms.
Anderson. Please, if you see anything on this issue in magazines or
newspapers - send it to me. I derive this column based on other
people's articles, sometimes it can be like the children's game of
"telephone" and sometimes like the old computer adage - garbage in,
garbage out. My thanks to Dr. David Hardy, the Tucson Herp. Soc. and
Mary Anderson for setting the record straight. By the way, does
anybody out there know why turtles have Salmonella bacteria in the
Snakebite Emergency? Call the Minnesota Poison Control System
number for out-of-state bites: 1 (800) 222-1222.
Congratulations to the Minolta Aquarium and Reptile World for
their first Canadian captive propagation of seven little Nile
Monitors. Folklore concerning giant lizards includes: in Thailand,
Varanus salvator is considered a creature of evil, it's bad luck
if one enters the home; in Borneo seeing a monitor or lizard during a
wedding forecasts an unlucky union; and natives on the islands of Bali
and Komodo construct wicker baskets to cover human corpses with one
side left open as an invitation to the "dragons" to feed on the
deceased believing that the spirits of the dead are thereby given
their deserved rest in peace. Hopefully the new Canadian babies will
be neither bad luck nor lacertan undertakers.
If you need help relocating animals (particularly desert
tortoises) in California, you can call their Department of Fish and
Game CDFG at (213) 590-5132, ask for Jim St. Amant or (714)
597-8235 and ask for Frank Hoover. The CA Turtle and Tortoise Club
has been sanctioned by the CDFG to accept captive tortoises and
relocate them with families who wish to "adopt" a tortoise.
The Tucson Herp. Society is involved in an effort to save smuggled
iguanas, tarantulas and other creatures from government incinerators.
In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, THS plans to
open a wildlife station on the U.S.-Mexican border to care for
creatures confiscated by border officials from pet smugglers. The
200-member society was founded in January after learning that 3,000
confiscated iguanas had been incinerated in August, 1987 by U.S.
border officials at Nogales. Dr. James Jarchow of the Arizona-Sonora
Desert Museum, said he found the fact that 2,000 to 3,000 green
iguanas were being smuggled into the U.S. monthly "quite astounding."
He also said that this volume is "bound to have a devastating effect
on the iguanid population" in tropical regions of southern Mexico,
where most of them were trapped. Smugglers usually pack the iguanas
and snakes tightly in boxes carried in car trunks. Mexicans also trap
iguanas for food. Dennis Caldwell, a member of THS, said some rip
open the females for their eggs, sew them up again and turn them
loose, unaware that the animals are thereby doomed. The THS and
federal officials are aware that even if the proposed station opens,
it may only be a partial solution. Not only are the feds just
catching a fraction of the animal smugglers - but what can be done
with that volume of tropical animals? They can't just be turned loose
in Arizona - they'd die of the heat and lack of humidity. I just wish
we could demonstrate the beauty and necessity of nature to the
burgeoning Third World human populations. They have at least as much
to lose as we do from the deforestation and elimination of their
native flora and fauna, maybe more. Unlike Americans, many third
worlders can't turn up the air conditioner and run out to the local
grocery store for food to be cooked on their electric stoves.
"Conservation-ism" isn't just a fad anymore - it's a necessity.
Good news, bad news in the sea turtle department... A 1,000-pound
leatherback turtle, estimated to be about 70-years old, washed ashore
in Laguna Beach, CA recently. It had been shot in the back six to
eight times and the corpse was described as "bullet-tattered."
While that is the most grisly turtle death I've heard of lately, the
Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, NJ stranding reports
from May through July, 1988 include 10 dead loggerhead sea turtles.
Causes of death range from being hit by boats to plastic ingestion.
The good news is that 5 juvenile turtles (both ridley and loggerhead)
were recovered from the cooling water intakes of the Salem Nuclear
Power Facility. All were tagged and released. Also, the Center
for Environmental Education reports, "Congress resolved once and for
all that offshore shrimp fishermen will have to start using TEDs next
May 1, 1989...This tremendous victory was made possible by the
letters and telephone calls that many of you made to your
representatives...On June 29, 1987, the National Marine Fisheries
Service in the Department of Commerce issued final regulations
requiring some shrimp fishermen to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs)
at some times...based upon joint industry/conservation community
recommendations and comments from thousands of citizens...Two federal
courts have rejected challenges to the TED regulations...On July 11,
1988, the Fifth Circuit Court, Louisiana, delayed the effective date of the
TED use regulations until September 1...The SC Supreme Court upheld the regulations in the face of these challenges from the SC Shrimpers Association...During 1988, the National Marine Fisheries Service plans to spend nearly $1.2 million in demonstrating the construction and use of the various TEDs. Several industry organizations are actively assisting in these efforts." If you would like a copy of the
3-page letter from which these quotes were taken, write Michael Weber,
Vice President, CEE, 1725 DeSales Street, NW, Washington, D.C. and
request his letter of October 3rd, 1988. And Carole Allen, of
H.E.A.R.T., wrote me to say that they're all waiting and hoping that
the turtles will return to Rancho Nuevo. She has had a literally
tragic summer. All those who have met Carole know that she has been
unyielding in her efforts to have TEDs implemented. I hope that all
whom she has touched would contact her soon, offer to help or just
say "hi." I think she'd be happy to hear from you.
A Tulsa teller was surprised when a baby garter snake emerged from
the keyboard of her typewriter. Miss Gaddy, bless her heart, did not
scream or use any "SSS" words, she just took a break - and returned to
work on a different typewriter.
At center stage in Bay Area politics is the endangered San
Francisco Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia. Joan
Thomas reports in the BAARS Newsletter that this creature has
singlehandedly managed to get criminal charges filed against the S.F.
Water Department, delayed construction at the S.F. International
Airport and temporarily halted plans for a $1.3 million dollar visitor
center at Ano Nuevo State Reserve. Just imagine what they could do
with two hands! Urbanization has slowly intruded on wetland areas
near San Francisco, causing a decline in the number of snakes.
Habitat protection through construction delays has met with a mixed
response. Despite the efforts taken so far to save the snakes'
habitat, environmentalists worry that damage will continue. Marya
Hart, a BAARS member, said that developers "don't realize that the
snakes have been there for centuries and that they've built an airport
on top of them," and worries that as the snakes are pushed into
smaller and smaller areas, many will slither out onto Highway 101 and
join other flattened fauna on the road to extinction.
A tiny bug threatens giant tortoises in the Seychelles Islands.
A French scientist is studying how to wipe out mealy bugs that have
infested plant life on Aldabra where more than 150,000 giant tortoises
Tons of tiny toads horrified residents of a retirement complex in
New Port Richey in early October. Bob Steiger, Pasco County
agricultural extension agent, said "There are millions of them out
there right now. We've had a couple dozen calls about them. They're
saying the ground's alive with them." The manager of the complex
said, "our toad count is high and growing. You just have to see it to
believe it." The county extension agent was quick to point out that
even though people may be upset by the invasion of these amphibians,
they are - after all - toadally harmless, and actually a benefit
because they eat mosquitoes.
Hunters, a lot - Gators, 0. Florida's 30-day alligator season
closed October 1st. Hunters managed to overturn boats, shoot
themselves and do many other interesting things in and around
thinning out the Florida alligator community, estimated at about 1
million. It is interesting to note that even though a few hunters
ended up in the water amidst their quarry, no gator attacks were
reported. One angry reptile reportedly bit a boat after being
harrassed, but even after the hunter's son was knocked overboard -
the gator ignored him. The boy's father said, "I saw my son walk on
water." Two men were arrested for illegally shooting a 7 1/2-foot
alligator in the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve. One had
applied for a permit but was not chosen. They face potential
penalties of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Final kill totals
will be released soon, they are expected to be in the 3,000-4,000
Shooting animals usually results in a lot of hysteria, for example
the consternation up in Lake County, Illinois. Seems as though the
Forest Preserve District is dismayed at the incredible destruction to
a Nature Preserve caused by an overpopulation problem. Local
homeowners are screaming because the District wants to shoot "Bambi."
Deer and alligators are creatures about which the public became
concerned when their numbers were declining. Both are becoming a
nuisance now that they're protected. I just wish that we will have
such success with other conservation programs - like saving the sea
creatures - that one day my grand kids can debate the pros and cons of
too many turtles, whales, porpoises and other now critically
endangered species. I have a dream . . .
I would really like to thank both people who sent in clippings
this month. What's really neat is they sent in three batches of
clippings. Now, how about the rest of you? Is anybody out there?
Does anybody care? Or should I just pack it up and let you read
nothing but Herp. 88 and highly technical articles? I get such great
feedback when I meet y'all in person - I really can't believe that
nobody has scissors, envelopes and 25-cent stamps. Perhaps it's the
Post Office's fault - I hear they're planning a name change, to the
A 3,000 mile "range extension" was published in the cover caption
of December Earthwatch Magazine: "Dr. Robert Greene, curator of
the Queen Victoria Musuem in Tasmania, uses a pocket lens to get a
closer look at an unidentified salamander species while working with
Dr. Skip Lazell and Earthwatch volunteers on a biological survey of
Tasmania, in 1981." Our very own `Commander Salamander' pointed out
that there are no salamanders in Tasmania, Australia or Asia
below the equator!!! After a careful examination of the cover
picture, it was noted that the creature in question has an external
ear hole - leading to the conclusion that it is a member of either the
family Agamidae or Scincidae. Members of both these lizard families
occur on Tasmania. One hopes this error was made by the editorial
staff. . .
Rancho Nuevo appears o.k. after being directly in the path of
Hurricane Gilbert. Jane Scheider of the Houston Audubon Society
reports that Patrick Burchfield, curator of reptiles at the zoo in
Brownsville, TX, flew over the site. Jane says, "My gut feeling is
that the Ridleys will be okay...they have survived thousands of
years of hurricanes -- nature is not the problem."
Earthwatch reports that about half of green and leatherback turtle
eggs further south at Quintana Roo were wiped out in the 15-foot tidal
surge associated with Gilbert. Tundi Agardy, the principal
investigator at the Quintana Roo site, and volunters had moved 22,500
eggs to guarded corrals to preclude poaching and predation. She
reports that all the hatcheries and volunteer quarters were wiped out
by the storm - along with the entire nearby town of Puerto Morelos.
Although Earthwatch didn't say whether this conservation project
will continue in 1989 - there are two other Earthwatch programs for
sea turtle conservation: "Endangered Carribean Turtles" led by Teresa
Tallavest and Jaime Collazo in Puerto Rico and "Saving the Leatherback
Turtle" led by Robert Brandne, Susan Basford and Ralf Boulon in St.
Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. For registration information contact:
Earthwatch, 680 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02272. Please
mention C.H.S. when you write!
Smoke from Brazilian forests burned to provide farmland or cattle
ranges has been implicated as an additional contributor to greenhouse
gases. The destruction of 77,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest
may account for as much as ten percent of last year's global
production of carbon dioxide. This area is equivalent to one and one
half times the area of the state of New York. NASA's satellite photos
show that the fires follow the route of the new Cuiaba-Porto Velho
road, financed by the World Bank as a "development" scheme for a state
in southeastern Brazil. Some observers say that half of the state is
now deforested - with a concurrent loss of trees, flowers, and animal
habitat. However, Jose Sarney, President of Brazil, announced a
series of measures aimed at slowing the rapid destruction of the
Amazon rain forest in an emotional televised address. He said, "We
must contain the predatory actions of man." Also, the American
Forestry Association announced a campaign titled "Global ReLeaf," and
donated saplings to major U.S. cities. They urge Americans to plant
100 million trees by 1992. A power company building a coal-burning
plant in Connecticut announced it would sponsor the planting of 52
million trees in Guatemala to offset the 15 million tons of carbon
dioxide which will be emitted during the expected 40-year lifetime of
the plant. Trees planted anywhere contribute to reducing atmospheric
carbon dioxide worldwide. Since we, and our favorite critters, don't
breath carbon dioxide, let's plant some trees ourselves. Call it
"Herp-a-tree" and don't forget to call your local newspapers!
The U.S. Postal Service would like to remind us that mailing
snakes is a definately against their regulations. Non-poisonous
lizards, baby alligators, salamanders, tadpoles, toads and eggs are
okay. Just be sure the animals are well packed - and clearly marked.
Rowntree DeMet, manufacturer of Turtles Candy has pledged $50,000
to nationwide efforts to save sea turtles from extinction. Jim
Fowler, of "Wild Kingdom," is the campaign's national chairman. You
can call DeMet at (312) 443-0893 to say "thanks."
The Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative Research and Education Program
is hosting the 9th Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and
Biology, February 7-11, 1989, at Villas by the Sea Resort Hotel and
Conference Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Jekyll Island is 90
minutes south of Savannah, 90 minutes north of Jacksonville, 3 hours
from Gainesville, FL and Charleston, SC and 5 hours from Atlanta.
Arrivals at St. Simon's Island Airport (Piedmont Airlines) or
Brunswick (Delta Airlines) will be met at the airport and taken to the
conference center. Accomodations range from $5 to $15 per night. To
attend, or for more information, write James L. Richardson,
University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology, Athens, GA 30602 or call
Volunteer field assistants are needed for desert tortoise
conservation study. Contact Ronald Marlow, Nevada Department of
Wildlife, State Mailroom Complex, Las Vegas, NV 89158. Please be
advised that the study site conditions are rigorous and physically
demanding - with primitive facilities. Also the Desert Tortoise
Preserve Committee is seeking donations which will enable them to hire
a full time naturalist for the Desert Tortoise Natural Area.
Contributions to this fund can be sent to the DTP, P.O. Box 453,
Ridgecrest, CA 93555. If they can raise $20,000, the Bureau of Land
Management will match it! One of the items in their new brochure is a
lovely, enameled pin, 3/4" diameter with a desert tortoise, and the
name of the preserve. Of course, all profits benefit the DTPC.
Between 60 and 70 gopher tortoises are being relocated within the
Ocala Municipal Airport to permit runway extensions. Gopher tortoises
are listed as a species of special concern by the Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission and are protected by law against
molestation and being killed for food. The tortoises will be moved by
Eco Landscape Systems of Gainesville to an area of the airport where
no expansions are planned, at a cost of $9,000.
A four-foot monitor made a dent in the squirrel population in the
yard of a Fort Myers, FL house before the resident called authorities.
"I thought I was seeing things," Edwin Long said and added, "it was a
very beautiful animal." A supervisor at the Lee County Humane
Society's Animal Control division said there have been 4 sightings
of giant lizards during the 14 years he's been with the department.
Paul Moler, a biologist with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission said, "We certainly prefer not to have them established as
a breeding population," but added that occasional sightings do not
necessarily indicate a problem.
Ever noticed how much the caduceus used to represent medicine
and medical professions resembles the coils of DNA? The origins of
the staff of medicine are ancient, going back at least as far as the
Egyptians, but the legend of Aesculapius led to the adoption of his
staff as the symbol of the American Medical Association. The legend
says that one day Aesculapius saw a snake crawl from a crack in the
earth and twine itself on his staff. After he killed the snake,
another one emerged from the rock carrying an herb or leaf in its
mouth. It placed the leaf on the head of the dead snake, which
miraculously revived. The serpent became Aesculapius' constant
companion, and Aesculapius became the patron of healing temples which
were founded throughout Greece. Later the Romans added a myth which
said that Apollo gave Hermes, the messenger of the gods and guardian
of health, a winged staff entwined with snakes to spread peace and
overcome disease. I wonder if the same folks who hate snakes dislike
going to doctors?
A Cornell University student was unpleasantly surprised by a
six-foot boa constrictor wrapped around the shower head in his new
apartment. The snake had been reported missing two months previously
by a former tenant. These "lost and found" stories always make me
wonder -- how do you "lose" a big snake? I had a tiny hatchling get
loose in my apartment about three years ago. Neither myself or my
daughter ate, slept, read or watched TV until we had moved every piece
of furniture and found it. (It was renamed "Houdini" by my
daughter, I had several unprintable names for it.) Now, if we two
neophytes can find a pencil-sized baby -- how the heck can a
six-footer get out and stay out?
Whitesnake is not a rock-and-roll band in China. An area of
China's central Hubei Province which includes the Shennongjia Forest
has more than 20 species of white animals including monkeys, bears,
wolves, snakes, squirrels, crows, turtle and spiders. Chinese
scientists believe they are descendants of ancient species and that
their whiteness has been caused by either inbreeding of albinos or
undetermined environmental influences. Experts who have visited the
Forest have been surprised at both the range of the species and the
size of their populations.
The world's oldest known fossil reptile has been discovered in
Scotland. The 8-inch reptile skeleton was found by a professional
fossile-digger in lake bed sediments which have been dated at 340
million years old. The oldest previously knownreptile fossils were
found in Nova Scotia and dated to about 300 million years ago.
Michael Benton, professor of geology at Queens University in Belfast,
and an authority on prehistoric reptiles, said the discovery would
force scientists to reevaluate the evolution of early life on land.
He said the specimen includes the skull, ribs and enough other
diagnostic remains for scientist "to prove very well that it is a
reptile and a very important discovery." Embedded in the same deposit
were fossils of freshwater fish, amphibians, spiders and plants. The
specimen has been nicknamed "Lizzie the lizard," even though
scientists have not yet determined what type of reptile it was.
Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 5th and plan to attend a
special program hosted by Clarence Wright, curator of reptiles at the
Lincoln Park Zoo. The event includes a continental breakfast
with Mr. Wright, a round-table discussion, and a behind-the-scenes
tour of the Reptile House with special emphasis on their reptile
breeding facilities. Cost is $15.00 for zoo members, $20.00 for
non-members and will be from 9:00 to 11:00 am. Pre-registration
is required. Send a check or money order to The Lincoln Park
Zoo, Department of Education, 2200 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
60614. Don't miss it!
N.O.A.H. will send you a "Battle Package," which contains enough
documentation, articles, pamphlets and sample letters to persuade
retailers or sales groups selling reptile products to at least rethink
their position. The package contains 80 pages and costs only $4.00
postage paid. Send your check to: N.O.A.H., Dept. of Biology, Case
Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106. I just wish I had
one...Recently, Marshall Field and Company ran an ad which read:
"HANDBAGS--A prim, yet chicly dressed shopper, later identified as
world-renowned hiss-ologist Eve Hand-bagg was reported to have bobbed
and weaved with delight the moment she set eyes on our cache of
genuine snake handbags...she chortled while slithering through the
crowd...Before speeding off in a multicolored stretch limosine, Ms.
Hand-Bagg instructed her chauffeur to place the purchases in a large
round basket on the seat beside her." Yes, I know they were trying to
be cute - but I found them merely trying. The ad ran November 6th.
Please mention the date when you write to complain. Field's address
is: Administrative Offices, 111 North State Street, Chicago, IL
A group of Florida students are trying to save about 150-200
gopher tortoises whose burrows are endangered by bulldozers on an
Orlando property slated to become an apartment complex. The students
were called in after a concerned neighbor couldn't get immediate
action from state agencies. The developer, A. Wayne Rich of Victoria
Equities Inc., has allowed the students to survey and mark the
tortoise burrows. The game commission is studying the case to
determine where - if anywhere - the gophers should be moved. The
question before the commission is, does development - crushing or
smothering by bulldozers and pavement constitute "taking" which is
prohibited by law? I thought the law also prohibited killing,
molesting of harrasing of a tortoise without a permit. Personally, I
would find heavy equipment rolling over my house more than a little
molesting. Don't the tortoises deserve the same? Please write Col.
Robert M. Brantly, FGFWFC, 620 South Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL
32399-1600 asking for his help in resolving this issue.
Congratulations are in order for breeding successes at two U.S.
zoos! The National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD recently bred the blue
poison arrow frog. They made huts from large plastic soft-drink
bottles with little holes for the parents to get in and out. I assume
there was water in them, for the article says that six blue poison
arrow frogs metamorphosed from tadpoles, the product of male and
female frogs breeding in the huts. Charles Beck, curator of
herpetology at the Memphis, Tennessee Zoo supervised the hatching of
the zoo's first Sonoran Mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis
pyromelana) in July. Dr. Beck apparently has a great relationship
with the Memphis Commercial-Appeal newspaper. Once a month, or more,
the paper prints news about the herpetology department at the zoo. If
you are involved with an institution - you might consider the careful
care and feeding of a local journalist. It might be mutually
"It was a horror show," said Daniel Ferrena when he opened the
door to his store, New York Reptilia, and found his inventory
slithering around on the floor. Reptile thieves had broken into the
shop, taken about two dozen reptiles and freed the rest. Stolen were
two 6-foot Peruvian red-tailed boa constrictors worth
each. Also gone were 10 baby iguanas, six baby Solomon Island boas,
false coral snakes, several plated lizards, an
albino California kingsnake, a 50-pound Asian clouded Monitor, the
cash register, a big fiberglass tank for the monitor, books on reptile
care and breeding and about 2 dozen mice and rats. They also took
"Iggy," the store's pet iguana and mascot - but left behind the rare
two-headed Northeastern pine snake, "Hocus and Pocus." Ferrena said,
"Thank God they didn't take that or the albino pythons. They knew the
expensive animals. They knew what they were doing." New York Reptilia
is a member of the C.H.S. If you have information which could lead to
the recovery of their animals, please give them a call at (718)
461-1371. I just wonder if a flurry of press coverage 7 days earlier
didn't lead to the theft. Remember, if you have valuable reptiles,
you may not wish your name in the paper. Reptile thefts are
apparently on an upscale worldwide. The Southwestern Herp. Society
in England published an appeal for the return of a member's herps, a
local C.H.S. member had a California kingsnake removed from her
apartment, and thieves stole the eight most valuable snakes from the
Dallas Zoo. There was no sign of forced entry to the building, and
the lids were still on the cages - which is a clear sign the snakes
didn't escape. Taken were 3 ringed pythons, 3 carpet pythons and 2
Dumeril's ground boas, which are endangered in their native
Madagascar. Remember to lock your doors, maybe even your cages, and
don't let strangers know what you've got or what it's worth. I will
gladly publish information about reptile thefts, however, please
remember there is a 35-45 day lead time for publication here.
Number one on the confiscation list at O'Hare Airport are Mexican
products made from sea turtles including jewelry, shoes, belts and
even guitars. Turtles are also stuffed and mounted for wall
"decorations." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggests that
nobody purchase wildlife products abroad. Larry Hood, Assistant
director for law enforcement in the O'Hare region, said, "Every time
you buy something made from a critter, that's one less critter. You'd
think people would be more ecologically aware, but we don't seem to be
gaining much." Between 1980 and 1986, there was a sixfold increase in
importation to the U.S. of products made from the 1,200 endangered or
threatened species. If you or friends are planning a trip abroad,
or if you want to add one to your "Battle Package," please write for
the free brochure about endangered species products. Send a stamped,
self-addressed envelope to: USFWS, Division of Law Enforcement,
10600 Higgins Road, Suite 200, Rosemont, IL 60018. Remember, there
are fines up to $20,000, terms of up to five years in jail - or
"merely" confiscation - awaiting those who bring in endangered or
threatened animal products. USFWS doesn't just say "tusk, tusk," the
law has teeth in it.
Twisted Sistrurus the recording group made famous by the North
Carolina Herp Society is back in the recording studio, hard at work on
their new project, "Frogs, you ain't never heard." Apparently, the
recording will be a collection of bogus frog calls including various
species of Fakeris and Pseudofakeris, the bull frog, Rana
fakesbeiana, the would befrog, Highly ephemeralis, the little
gas frog, Whimnaoedus jocularis, as well as Rana scamitans,
Rana wetrickyoularia, Highly scenario, Highly perversicolor, and the
joke toad, Bufo querulous. Her-puntologists are highly urged to
join the NC Herp Society. Some of the worst puns, jokes, stories and
ideas are deftly scattered around some excellent - and valuable -
articles. They publish all original material, monthly and on time.
Memberships are $5.00 for individuals and $8.00 for families. Send
your check to The NC Herp Soc., N.C. State Museum of Natural
Sciences, P.O. Box 27647, Raleigh, NC 27611.
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia has just passed a law limiting
the number of snakes or rodents per household to four. The law was
prompted by complaints from neighbors of a man who kept 150
non-poisonous snakes in his house - and the rodents to feed them.
An alderman was quoted "150 of anything is too much." Now, what are
they going to do to eliminate mice - give away mousetraps?
Debris has been definately implicated in sea turtle drownings. A
study by a marine biologist at Texas A and M University at Galveston has
shown that plastic occurred in nearly 80% of the turtle stomachs that
contained debris and on about 97% of the beaches surveyed. Stranded
turtles that are still alive are taken to the National Marine
Fisheries Service Laboratory in Galveston for care and rehabilitation.
Dead turtles are autopsied to detect patterns of death and gather life
history information. Debris included plastic, rubber, fishing line,
tar, cellophane, monofilament rope, wax, styrofoam, aluminum cans,
string and cigarette filters. Another study determined that 52
million pounds of plastic packaging material are dumped into the sea
every year by commercial fishermen; 298 million pounds of plastic nets
and lines are lost each year and 640,000 plastic containers are dumped
in the sea every day. Also, a giant leatherback turtle washed up,
dead of as-yet unknown causes, on a Welsh beach. The one ton turtle
is 8 1/2-half feet long and nearly 10-feet across and appears to be
the largest leatherback ever recorded.
Crocodilians in the news... Venezuela is expanding the
Cinaruco-Campanaparo National Park to include the lower sections of
the Campanaparo River which contains one of the largest remaining
populations of the Orinoco crocodile. --- Florida's hunt killed
exactly 2,979 gators, 379 over what had been predicted, but less than
the 3,450 hunt limit. Four men had a total of 13 poached skins
seized. Adding the "nuisance" alligators to the hunt total, about
8,000 alligators will have been killed in 1988. Louisiana has
harvested more than 20,000 alligators per year since 1971. Texans
have killed about 1,500 a year since 1984 when hunting resumed. ---
About a month ago, newspapers reported that an alligator had taken up
residence in the Truckee River near Wadsworth, Nevada. It's been
captured, is 3 feet long, 10 pounds and is a south American caiman.
So much for the "monster gator."
Thanks to the very many people who contributed clippings this
month's column is the longest since May of 1987 - and I have a few
articles left over for next month! Please members, don't rest on your
laurels, one month's surplus doesn't mean you should stop. (Oooh,
don't stop - I love it!!!) So, please keep those cards, letters,
articles and clippings coming - without contributors there would be no
Her-PET-pourri. Merry chrysemys to all of you, and I hope you all
have a hoppy New Year. See you in 1989.