My new book!
Frogs: Inside Their Remarkable World
by Ellin Beltz

1990 HerPET-POURRI Columns by Ellin Beltz

1987 . 1988 . 1989 . 1990 . 1991 . 1992 .

1993 . 1994 . 1995 . 1996 . 1997 . 1998 .

1999 . 2000 . 2001 . 2002 . 2003 . 2004 .

2005 . 2006

This was my fourth year writing columns for the Chicago Herpetological Society Bulletin

January 1990

Plastics recycling

comes to Chicago. The Chicago Park District requests that you bring empty milk, water or soda pop bottles to any of their field houses or the North Park Village recycling center. Donors should wash the bottles and remove caps and rings. The plastic will be recycled into plastic play materials for use by the Park District throughout Chicago.

A $50,000 fine

was ordered by a judge against a suburban developer for filling in a wetland during construction of luxury housing in Hoffman Estates, IL. This ruling is the first fine in the 6-state Great Lakes region for destroying a wetland, under amendments to the Clean Water Act in 1987.

Large stretches of Amazonian rain forest

have been chopped down by Peruvian coca growers. At the same time, millions of gallons of toxic chemicals used in the production of coca paste have been dumped into the headwaters of Amazonian rivers. Growers also use large amounts of fertilizers and herbicides including paraquat and Agent Orange. Coca growers have invaded two national parks and two national forests and have destroyed well over 500,000 acres of natural vegetation. Coca leaf is currently the largest crop under cultivation in the Peruvian Amazon. Marcelow T. Buenaventura, a forest engineer, wrote recently in Medio Ambiente (a Peruvian environmental magazine), "Many species of fish, amphibians, aquatic reptiles and crustaceans have already completely disappeared from the rivers and streams." The area of damage from coca production in Peru alone is roughly twice the area of the state of Rhode Island.

The Caribbean Conservation Corporation

will receive two grants totalling $675,000 from the U.S. Agency for International Development in support of its activities at Tortuguero, Costa Rica. $250,000 will go to developing a visitor center, providing guides to lead tourists on the nesting beaches, and assisting local residents to develop tourist enterprises catering to natural history. $100,000 will go toward the development of a comprehensive zoning plan, insuring compatibility of future development with the unique natural resources of Tortuguero. The Research Station will also be overhauled.

The Tortoise Survival Project

is currently the only organization exclusively concerned with the conservation and captive breeding of rare and endangered North African tortoises. They report that more than 1 million tortoises were removed from the wild in Morocco alone and exported to Britain between 1967 and 1981. Similar numbers were exported to other European countries. The average survival of wild-caught tortoises in captivity was less than 12 months. The most disturbing finding of the T.S.P. has been that many endemic species groups are already extremely vulnerable and that some may even now be so depleted as to be in immediate danger. They have published a booklet "Terrestrial Chelonia; incubation of eggs and care of hatchlings," available from T.S.P. for $12 U.S. To receive more information about this valuable effort, send an international reply coupon (from your local Post Office) to The Tortoise Trust, BM Tortoise, London, WC1N 3XX.

The Reptile Breeding Foundation

in Picton, Ontario, Canada is in severe financial difficulty. Those who have followed Thomas Huff's work with various herptiles may wish to contact the Foundation now in its time of need. They sell many reptile related products (t-shirts, cards, etc.) which proceeds benefit the Foundation as well as gratefully accepting any and all cash donations. Some of their breeding successes include: Bengal monitors, Round Island day geckos, frog-eyed geckos, and Jamaican boas. Overall, they work with 500 reptiles and amphibians from 85 species and are one of the few institutions dealing solely with the management and breeding of herpetofauna.

Articles and artwork

concerning herpetofauna are being sought by both the Louisiana Herpetological Society and the Gopher Tortoise Council. Incidentally, the C.H.S. is always interested in receiving articles by its members for publication in the Bulletin.

A southern Florida newspaper

reports "Big bass go for live salamanders. The newest bait to hit the ... market is the live salamander or "water dog." They report that Charlie Rhodes and Carl Lowrance, owners of A & R Distributors are importing huge numbers of animals native to North Dakota into Florida for their use as live bait.

This Christmas

it seemed that every store had a display of "Grow-a-Frog kits." The tadpoles in these kits will grow to be our old buddy, Xenopus, and the distributors claim that all their stock is laboratory raised. I would hope these kits might awaken an interest in natural history for many youngsters otherwise divorced from nature, but I fear that they will also make it more likely that Xenopus individuals will be released in North American habitats. The clawed frog is a voracious feeder and should not under any circumstances be released from captivity.


I received a copy of Cane Toads: An Unnatural History in my stocking last week. This slim but thoroughly illustrated book documents the release and spread of Bufo marinus in Australia. In 1935, the toads were captured from a Hawaiian population and released in sugar cane fields in Australia in a misguided effort to reduce cane beetles. Unfortunately, nobody noticed that the beetles flew and the toads could not. The toads are now widespread in Queensland and if little else, should serve to remind us not to introduce animals where they do not belong.

Increasing demand for health potions

has spurred a jump in frog and snake imports to South Korea. Some Korean men believe snake soup and frog meat build stamina.

New York City Department of Parks

has a "Beast of the Month Club." In November, snakes were featured in a program titled "really reptiles" led by herpetologist Jim Rogers. Commissioner Henry Stern played a tune on a flute to attempt to charm a 12-foot long python out of her sack. The python reportedly cooperated. The New York Times recently wrote warmly about Commissioner Stern saying, "You've led seven million New Yorkers on one fine nature hike...Who can forget that you coined the word "arboricide" for tree murderers...You are truly a commissioner for all species." Mr. Stern also named Kermit the Frog as official parks spokesfrog.

TEDs continued...

The Sport Fishing Institute recently published an article in their Bulletin titled "Wanton waste: must it continue?" from which the following quotes were taken. "The relatively recent development of dumping carcasses [of pollock and cod] in the Bering Sea is obscene, but it pales when compared to the waste that has been going on for years in the shrimp trawling industry, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic...During the past 10 years, finfish bycatch by shrimp trawlers in Texas waters alone ranged from a low of 328 million pounds to a high of 977 million pounds each year...The commercial fishing and shrimping industries must be held accountable for wasted bycatch...A bright ray of hope for the conservation of fishery resources is the Bush Administration's choice to head National Marine Fisheries Service... Dr. William W. Fox, Jr. has the training and experience to bring conservation to the forefront."


the most recent newsletter of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, NJ reports on sea turtles found, dead and alive, along a short section of coast in that state. From June to September, 18 leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles washed up on these beaches. The causes of their deaths include: perforated intestines, hits by boat propellers, and entanglement by fishing line. Seven Kemp's ridley turtles were recovered, 6 from the Salem Nuclear Power Station. Three of the 6 were alive and were tagged and released. The others suffocated in the intake valve before MMSC could rescue them. The seventh ridley was found dead and partially decomposed on Sandy Hook, N.J.

U.S. Representative Gene Taylor of Texas

introduced legislation to create a hatchery for endangered sea turtles. He said "this would up the number of turtles out there and when the population is increased, they will no longer be an endangered species. And when they are no longer an endangered species, the TEDs will no longer be needed." His bill would authorize up to $4 million for building facilities and more than $2 million for a three-year implementation, research and monitoring program. He said a likely place for the hatchery would be Ship Island. Suzenne Lewis, a management assistant for the Gulf Islands National Seashore system, which includes Ship Island, said she had not heard of the legislation and would need to check the National Park Service's regulations as to how and if it could be done. Charles Oravetz, chief of the Protected Species Branch of the National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Region said, "I don't think it will work," and pointed out that the only other hatchery in the U.S., located near Galveston, TX, has been in operation for about 12 years and has not proven to increase the population of the Kemp's Ridley. Taylor said, "this is something that we feel will please environmentalists and free the shrimpers from the requirement of using the costly, dangerous, ineffective [TEDs] devices." Taylor said he would prefer having legislation requiring TEDs repealed but that past congressional efforts to do that "have all failed." Taylor's bill is being considered by the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee in January, 1990.

Biologist James Perran Ross, PhD,

senior author of the publication, The Status of Kemp's Ridley reports that drowning in shrimp trawls is the largest identifiable cause of death for this species. You can get a copy of this report from the Center for Marine Conservation, 1725 DeSales Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 for $5.00 postpaid.

Plans by Consolidated Rail Corporation

of Philadelphia, PA to expand its rail terminal near Westboro, Massachusetts have been stalled by the 4-inch yellow spotted turtle. Conrail needs a zoning variance as well as permission to pave portions of a wetland from the Westboro Conservation Commission. Conrail has hired 2 zoologists to study the turtle and its habits. Conrail plans to "mitigate" this wetland by building a new wet habitat and moving the turtles there before proceeding with the $20 million expansion. Permits will also be required from the State Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The state of Florida

Department of Environmental Regulation is working on a proposal for a research project to determine the amount of mercury gas, possibly from incinerators and power plants, in the air over that state. Mercury has been found in Florida wildlife, including fish, at levels exceeding the federal health limit of one part per million. The discovery of mercury in alligators pushed state officials to ban hunting in western Dade and Broward counties during the 1989 gator season. Incinerators burn trash, often including car and flashlight batteries which contain mercury along with regular household garbage which can include all kinds of paints, chemicals and other toxics. Six waste-to-energy incinerators are now in operation in Florida and 3 are under construction.

Gopher tortoises

in the way of a new school site are being moved even though finding new homes for tortoises in southeast Florida is becoming nearly impossible. Game official Mark Robinson said, "Gopher tortoises are very adaptable animals, but there are so few large tracts of undeveloped land left here." Florida legislation barring the capture or possession of gophers without a permit went into effect on July 1, 1988. About 100 permits were issued to people who had kept gopher tortoises as pets before the rules went into effect.

The turtle egg poacher

who was caught with 1,088 eggs from Riviera Beach in May, 1988 was sentenced to 2 years in prison. It is believed to be the longest prison sentence imposed under the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Attorney, Dexter Lehtinen's press release. The defendant, James Bivins, 37, of West Palm Beach also pleaded guilty to taking 818 green and loggerhead sea turtle eggs from 17 nests on Jupiter Island Beach in August, 1988. He also had a 1973 turtle egg theft case on his record. After Bivins' second arrest, he agreed to cooperate with Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission officers as an informant and cease his nest raids. Upon his third arrest, state game officers abandoned him as an informant and requested the U.S. attorney to prosecute. Bivins filed an appeal to the concurrent fine of $109,300. His attorney wrote in the appeal brief, "An egg, according to the facts of nature that an egg becomes a life when it is hatched is not a turtle...Hence the universal question: which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Prosecutors and wildlife officials say the argument is a new one to them, but ridiculous nonetheless. The appeal to the three-judge Circuit Court is set for January 18th for oral arguments.

Less than half of the alligator eggs

taken by Florida state workers for hatching in captivity produced live young, but University of Florida researchers were unable to explain the low rate. Franklin Percival, associate professor of wildlife sciences said, "over the last 8 years, we've documented a population crash at Lake Apopka...only...9 percent [hatched]'s bad, and we don't know why."

Congratulations to Charles Beck

and his staff at the reptile house at Memphis Zoo on their successful hatching of Gila monsters in October. The two scaly bundles of joy measure about 4 inches each and will grow to about 20 inches.

The Nature Conservancy has agreed

to buy land for a 15,000 to 60,000 acre preserve near Searchlight, Nevada for the endangered desert tortoise. Such a facility could ease tensions between developers and environmentalists.

A new activity guide

from the National Wildlife Federation, "Tropical Treasures," helps educators teach children about tropical rain forests.

For those turtle enthusiasts

who may not have seen a recent advertisement in the C.H.S. Bulletin, please be advised that the Chicago Turtle Club is alive and well and publishing regularly. They also meet monthly and summaries of their meetings are included in their newsletter. For more information, contact Lisa Koester.

The 6th Grade Class

of Caldwell Elementary School, Caldwell, Kansas 67022 requested that the C.H.S. ask its members for help. It seems some grown-ups in Caldwell have been putting down the class for a project which became a state initiative to have the ornate box turtle named their state's official reptile. However, some latecoming adult "boosters" in Caldwell are saying that they want their community to be known for more than box turtles. Some sickies are letting it be known to the students how they like to "pop" turtles they find sunning on roadways with their car tires. One insensitive lout took to wearing a t-shirt with the kids' box turtle on it, but with a red slash drawn through the turtle. A support group, "Friends of the Ornate Box Turtle," which includes parents of the class, the teacher, Larry Miller, and other adults are demanding that the troublemakers stop harrassing the children. Perhaps Caldwell shouldn't be known as the "Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World." Perhaps it should be known as the adult bully capital instead. Please send letters of support to the class at the above address. They will be turned over, en masse, to the local paper - so be polite, please.

Wierd snakes stories...

A baby Burmese python was snakenapped from a Valparaiso, Indiana pet shop. It is valued at $150 by the shop's owner who would like it back. Anybody with information about this theft can contact Matt Morris, Valparaiso Pet and Hobby, 18 North Washington Street, Valparaiso, IN. ... A man in Nashville, TN is being forced to sell his 6.5 foot python and his 3.5 foot baby reticulated python by his fiancee. He said, "She can't stand them. They give her the creeps." ... A 5-foot rattlesnake was photographed wrapped around the steering wheel of a car in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Apparently, the car (and snake) owner leaves his pet in the vehicle to deter car thieves. ... Chicago Police say it should no longer be necessary to continue searching for the 7-foot python which escaped on the south side this fall. Police Lt. Frank Trigg said that they python probably couldn't survive the below freezing temperatures presently being suffered by Chicago residents. He did note that stranger things have happened and that his officers are still aware that the snake may be coiled up in some warm basement or other area.

A big thank you to all

who contributed articles and clippings this month. Again, it is very important to have the date and the publication in which each and every single clipping appeared. I have had to not use some interesting items since I had no way of knowing when or where they first appeared. Without the contributions of so many of our members, this column wouldn't be possible. You can join the ranks of these wonderful folks.

February 1990

Omitted because it was a membership report and survey for the CHS.

March 1990

You can't please everybody...

We recently received yet another letter from a particularly correspondent member who lives in California. He writes, "Ms. Beltz ... and I are far from being friends: I have been highly critical of the thoughtless naivete and fadish[sic] group-think that pose as moral righteousness in her column; her replies have been equally uncomplimentary." At the risk of being even less appreciated by this person, I would like to say that anyone who would like to spend the 10 hours or so a month that this column takes to prepare and write is perfectly welcome to spread their own brand of "naivete and faddish group-think" to the members of the Society. In the three years that I have been writing this column, I have received hate mail from only one member (yup, same one). Quite frankly, I am tired of the whole affair. There are a few regular clipping contributors, and a few irregulars. Other than those - nobody seems to know that I even do this. I talk with members at meetings and amateur symposia who don't even mention this column. Perhaps they've never read the "by-line" or don't connect this column with their Membership Secretary. Believe it or not, I have a life outside the Society although the amount of time I spend on C.H.S. rivals the 40 hours a week I spend at my job, and I could really use a few constructive letters instead of the never ending stream of unjustified criticism I receive from this member. Otherwise, I will burn out (as has so often been predicted) and stop. If this column means something to you - now is the time to write me or send a clipping or something. On to the clippings . . .

Moral righteousness, part 2.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, president and founder of the National Rainbow Coalition and a new resident of Washington, D.C. was recently quoted in Greenpeace Magazine (January/February 1990, page 7): "What does it say about our respect for humanity when we pour radioactive waste into the ground in South Carolina or dump toxic garbage into the streams of New Jersey?...If we can take down the Berlin Wall, we can take down the wall that prevents us from seeing what must be done to leave our children a livable world." I would like to commend Dr. Jackson (with whose positions I have rarely agreed) for his emergent environmental consciousness. Now, if we can just persuade our "environmental President" George Bush to put his action where his words have been we may accomplish something good for us all during the next three years.

More on frog crossings.

Playboy Magazine, February 1990 describes on the frog signs previously mentioned in this column. Scott Schultz, the mayor of Stevens Point, WI, said that they believe that they are the only municipality in the U.S. with an official frog-crossing zone. "The frogs kept getting trapped along the curb and swept down the storm drains, so we put in frog ramps and warning signs." At the top of the post is a picture of four leaping frogs to warn motorists. At the bottom is a tiny picture of a car - to warn frogs. The city sells frog crossing tee-shirts. Send $11.00 U.S. to City Hall, Frog Shirt, 1515 Strongs Avenue, Stevens Point, WI 54481. Specify size from small to x-large. Thanks to Giovanni and the folks at Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society for this item. I don't read or drool Playboy and would have missed this item!

Exotic pets banned

by Jeffersonville, Indiana include any "poisonous reptile or other animal not ordinarily domesticated by man." As of now, it is illegal to keep, maintain, trade, possess or control such animals as lions, tigers, bears, leopards, wolves, and monkeys. Turtles are not considered exotic. A local pet store has promised to seek a restraining order to keep the ordinance from going into effect. Supporters of the ordinance argue that allowing the sale of wild animals is detrimental to many wild and possibly endangered species. (from The Associated Press, Jeffersonville, Indiana Post Tribune, page B7, November 19th, 1989).

Headline punsters

have had a lot of fun with Andy Koffman's attempt to enter his Goliath frogs in the Frog Jump Jubilee at the Calaveras County Fair in Angels Camp, California. Selections include: "Where'd ya get those leapers...some people [are] hopping mad" (Memphis, Tennessee Commercial Appeal, January 9th, 1990). "California Fish and Game Department wardens...hopped into the muddy fight over a Seattle man's plan" (Chicago Sun-Times, January 11th, 1990). "Croak, a ringer" (Chicago Tribune, January 9th, 1990). "Weighty competition for a frog jump...Imagine basketball players 40 or 50 feet tall joining the N.B.A.; that is about the human parallel of the frogs [he] wants to enter in the contest..." (The New York Times, January 9th, 1990)

Cane toad licking

may be banned in Georgia if a resolution introduced by Mr. J. Beverly Langford (D) is passed. He calls upon the General Assembly to look into "the extreme danger of cane toad licking becoming the designer drug of choice in today's sophisticated society." The resolution is a less-than-serious assault on what Mr. Langford considers an anti-drug fever gripping the Georgia General Assembly. (Chicago Tribune, February 14, 1990)

Smithsonian magazine

published an article about shrimpers and sea turtles in its December 1989 issue. They also published five letters to the editor in their February 1990 issue. The best quote of all is from the letter Smithsonian editors selected to put first. The writer, Jim Mavros of San Jose, California, first discussed his impression of Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards' quote, "Perhaps some species were meant to disappear," then wrote: "[his] statement contains more wisdom than he either realized or intended. Some species were meant to disappear-the weak, the inefficient and the unadaptable. The species in question is neither the turtle nor the shrimper. It is the shrimp trawler. Any fishing method in which 90 percent of the catch is not the desired species amount to aquatic strip-mining. The best long-term solution is the banning of the shrimp trawler. Government monies should be made available to train the displaced shrimpers in the operation of shrimp ranches." Larry Coffen of Sugar Land, Texas wrote, "In my opinion the shrimpers were nothing more than a gang of lawbreaking bullies." It sure is nice to know that even non-herpetologists find the shrimp fishing/wasting hard to tolerate. Sometimes in my faddish group-think and thoughtless naivete I worry that we are the only voices crying in the wilderness. Now that national magazines are publishing concerning this crisis in our oceans, public outcry from many sectors may stop this incredible waste of sea life.


National Geographic Magazine, Volume 176, Number 6, December 1989 in an article about Baja California by Don Belt mentions the shrimp/waste issue. A 65-year-old fisherman from La Paz, Mexico says the growing Mexican shrimp fleet "kill everything. They pick out the shrimp, then shovel the dead fish off the deck - ten tons for every ton of shrimp. Why waste fish when people are starving in Mexico?" Also quoted is a fisheries biologist with CICESE, a Mexican scientific agency in Ensenada, "Their nets drag along the bottom, plowing up habitat, and nobody knows how long it [habitat] takes to regenerate."

The real causes of animal extinctions

do not include collecting for the pet trade according to an article by Robert G. Sprackland, published in the Viviarium in the fall of 1989. I would be delighted to provide more accurate publication data, however, the folks at A.F.H. do not print the date of publication on the bottom of their pages as do most other magazines and also neither of the people who sent me copies of the article wrote down when it appeared. Bob reports that in 1984, 314,820 snakes that were identified as boa constrictors entered the U.S. Of those, 3,630 were alive. This is an 0.01 percent of the total imports. The rest were wallets, shoes, purses and so on. The rest of his statistics are equally frightening: reticulated pythons, 870,169 imports - 3,050 alive (0.0035% or 1 live per 3,500 leather goods); Burmese pythons 75,456 imports - 5,399 alive (0.07%); water monitors 545,031 imports - 3,610 live (0.006%); Nile monitors 1,066,502 - 988 alive. Also, certain animals worth a small fortune to particular collectors were only imported dead: Brazilian caiman 23,912 hides; 176 Indian and 1,056 Timor pythons for shoes. However, the green iguana is primarily imported for the pet trade. Of the 37,824 imported in 1984, 97 percent were alive. Subscriptions to the Vivarium are pricey and it is not widely available in libraries, so if you want to read it, you will have to buy it. Individual U.S. rates are $26.00 per year. Overseas must pay $32.00, and they have higher prices for Institutions. [Vivarium was eventually bought and closed by "Reptiles" so the contact information has been removed.] Some people complain that A.F.H. has not published on the schedule it originally promised. The new managing editor of the Viviarium assures me that the shakedown period of their publication is past. He has appointed copy editors and hopes to increase the amount of conservation information provided, in addition to their already considerable contribution to herpetoculture.

Brazilian police officers

seized more than one half million alligator skins which were intended for purses and destroyed them by incineration. Also destroyed were an unspecified number of other rare-animal-skin goods (from The Chicago Tribune, January 18th, 1990).

A Japanese man was arrested

at the international airport in Bangkok, Thailand while he was trying to smuggle nearly 300 endangered turtles and lizards to Japan in his suitcases. 98 turtles and 185 water lizards were found tightly packed and bound to prevent them from making noise. Two turtles and one lizard had died. The defendant claimed that he had brought the reptiles from Malaysia and had only stopped in Bangkok to visit a friend while on route home. A Thai forestry official said Japan is a major market for wildlife from southeast Asia and South America. The man was convicted of possession of endangered wildlife and received a 3 month suspended sentence and was fined $100.00. No mention was made of what happened to the animals. (from The Chicago Tribune, December 28, 1989)

Hand-painted python boots

are available right here in Chicago. Aren't you excited? The "Out of the West" gallery is offering not only python, but black, white or green lizard boots. (from Crain's Chicago Business, January 8th, 1990).

On the other side

of making money from herps, 2 brothers from the University of Texas at Arlington have turned their interest in herpetology into a $1 million a year business. Executive Marketing International specializes in snake hide boxes, aspen bedding and oasis for pet water supplies. One of the brothers, Ty Kubin, also illustrated the book Venomous Snakes of Latin America written by Johnathon Campbell (from: U, The National College Newspaper, November 1989, pages 12 & 13).

One man's poison is another man's medicine.

Researchers including Dr. Charles W. Myers of the American Museum of Natural History and Dr. John Daly at the National Institutes of Health are studying Dendrobatid frog toxins in an effort to understand nerve and muscle cell functions that play a central role in a variety of devastating disorders, from abnormal heart rhythms to Alzheimer's disease. The New York Times, January 23rd, 1990 reports that the destruction of Central and South American rain forests threatens this entire family of frogs. Researchers are rushing to collect and categorize the many different members of the family before they are lost forever. Unfortunately, at present, captive raised Dendrobatids do not manufacture their characteristic toxins so wild caught individuals must be used. No one is implying that non-toxic dart frogs become cuisine just yet.

Mystery surrounds the decline

of frog and toad populations worldwide. Michael Tyler of Australia's University of Adelaide said, "what we've got here is a global early warning system, and that system is the frog." To date, the evidence of massive die-offs of earth's amphibian populations is largely anecdotal, but should not be ignored. A conference is being held in California this month to begin discussions of the disappearing amphibian populations. David Wake, of the University of California at Berkeley recalls that a decade past, walking through the High Sierras, "used to be frog heaven. They were so thick on the ground you would step on them. Now they are almost absent from the area." Other areas reporting suspicious declines include Costa Rica, Denmark, Hungary, Ontario, Southern California, Australia, U.S.S.R., New Zealand and New Guinea. Possible causes for the decline could include pesticide residues, acid rain, disappearance of breeding ponds, increased salinity of wetlands, metal toxin contamination, ultraviolet radiation increase, or even a worldwide virus. Persons with data, provable or anecdotal, about this decline are asked to write brief summaries of their information and send them to this column from which they will be sent en masse to Dr. Wake.

A tiny loggerhead turtles

washed up on the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Named Fogg the Turtle by his protectors, they sought to have him taken to an aquarium in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, there are no commercial air flights between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. So, a helpful bureaucrat made Fogg a corporal in the Irish Army and put him on a military flight to the North. Fogg will be returned to the Caribbean after his recuperation. (from The Chicago Tribune, January 22nd, 1990, page 10)

Tourism threatens Turkey's turtles

reports Jane Howard in an article in The Guardian, September 19th, 1989. Turkey has apparently the most important turtle nesting beaches in Europe. However almost all of those beaches are threatened by development, tourism, pollution, excavation of sand and gravel, shrimp fishing and industrial development. A beach in Dalyan has been designated a special protection area with a restriction on new building. The turtles at Dalyan are a tourist attraction in their own right. One free brochure distributed to visitors quotes a typical turtle saying, "I've been here for 95,000,000 years, and you?"

Three popular off-road motorcycle races

were cancelled out of concern for endangered desert tortoises. The Federal Bureau of Land Management said that the Barstow-to Vegas, the Johnson Valley to Parker, AZ and the Parker 400 will be denied operating permits. Off-road racers were belligerent. One was quoted as saying "they are going to go out and do it anyway." One hundred other desert races were not affected by this decision (from The Chicago Sun Times, December 24, 1989 and The New York Times, December 17, 1989).

Only 300 to 500 American crocodiles

remain, nearly all of them living in a narrow coastal strip at the tropical tip of Florida. 7,100 acres have been set aside on Key Largo and the acquisition and dedication will be complete by the end of 1990. Some crocodiles live on land surrounding the Florida Power and Light Corporation's Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami (from The Tampa Tribune, January 3rd, 1990).

Satellite tracking devices

will be attached to the shells of midsized loggerhead turtles in an effort to find where they go and what they do after they are released from their headstarting pens at the Virginia Marine Science Museum (from The Roanoke Times and World News, January 18th, 1990).

Seventy-six stunned turtles

were rescued in one day from the cold waters offshore from Canaveral National Seashore in Florida during the unseasonable cold weather spell in December. In all 232 turtles had been taken from the ocean after being found floating helplessly in the water. Some were taken to Sea World, Disney World and other accredited marine zoos in the state. Curators said that they recovered after being warmed and will all be released when the weather permits. Most of the turtles were young, from 5 to 50 pounds and were overcome by cold stress in the 50 degree F water (from The Tampa Tribune, December 28th, 1989).

We received some mail this month

including a request for volunteers from Earthwatch, 680 Mount Auburn Street, Box 403, Watertown, Massachusetts 02172. Five of their hundreds of programs will be of especial interest to herpetologists: 1.) Saving the Leatherback Turtle, led by Mr. Robert Brandner and Ms. Susan Basford. Volunteers will patrol St. Croix beaches nightly, weigh, measure and tag female turtles, move threatened nests to safety, and protect hatchlings from predators and poachers. 2.) Turtles of Quintana Roo, Mexico, led by Dr. Hans Herrman is similar to above, but at long-established beach facilities in Mexico. 3.) Diamondback Terrapins, led by Dr. J. Whifield Gibbons and colleagues, will define the population structure and feeding behavior of terrapins on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. 4.) South China Sea Islands, led by Dr. James Lazell, will seek to construct a biogeographical model for future environmental management policies for reptiles and mammals of the Hong Kong islands. 5.) Island Rain Forest in Brazil, led by Drs. Tim Moulton and Bill Magnusson, will survey the reptiles and amphibians of Ilha do Cardosa, describing and tagging animals and recording nest sizes of the broad-nosed caiman. Also CHS member and turtle lover, Mr. Ben Entwisle is looking for like minded individuals to go in a group to the Green Turtle Research Station in Tortuguero, Costa Rica this year. He writes, "Not everyone has an opportunity to do something genuinely worthwhile and have a wonderful time and great experiences simultaneously."

Also from the mailbag

is a request from the newly formed Irish Herpetological Society: "Reptile keeping is very much in its infancy here in Ireland, but for the benefit of the few dedicated enthusiasts, we have just set up ... the society. So far we have had television and radio coverage and we are beginning to get a good response. With this in mind we plan to get out our first newsletter in January... We have many problems in this country, mostly concerned with obtaining healthy stock from pet stores and we are now travelling to England to buy direct from British dealers. Looking forward to hearing from our American counterparts, Yours faithfully, Ms. Janet Dineen. I feel that it seems appropriate in this month of March 1990 to reverse the process of the infamous St. Patrick and drive some snakes back into Ireland.

Thanks to everyone

who contributed clippings and articles this month. Please, as mentioned at the outset of this column, take a minute to consider not what the herp society can do for you - but what you can do for the herp society. Far too often it is the same 14 or 20 faces doing everything in C.H.S. This kind of volunteer overload causes burnout, which is a shame. When this effort ceases to be fun volunteers cease to want to help. We have a lot of great ideas to develop, now all we need are great volunteers to develop them! Phil Drajeske has videotaped all our meetings since October, but we need somebody to duplicate these master tapes and distribute copies to other herp societies on request. We need somebody to take over the refreshments at the general meetings. We need some bodies to help sell stuff at the meetings. We need some more bodies for all the other really nifty projects that we've dreamed up to benefit our members. If you are one of the very many people who said they would like to volunteer, how about doing it now?

My new book!
Frogs: Inside Their Remarkable World
by Ellin Beltz
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1993 . 1994 . 1995 . 1996 . 1997 . 1998 .

1999 . 2000 . 2001 . 2002 . 2003 . 2004 .

2005 . 2006

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January 10, 2008

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