Friday, November 29, 2013

Gone a-hunting

Given that it’s hunting season (are you and your dog wearing orange out in the woods?), this seems an appropriate topic to ruminate upon. A video was posted to youtube recently which documents a salamander collecting trip on state property. I was disturbed by the video, but not for the same reason as some other folks I know.

For better or worse, there are no prohibitions on collecting (read: hunting) a wide variety of native wildlife in Massachusetts; this includes most of our amphibians and reptiles, with the exception of the state-listed Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern species. There are also some species, such as the Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), that are on a “watch list” and can’t be possessed without a special permit from the state (listed here). There’s an open season on everything else. There's not even a bag limit - you can possess as many as you can catch - on snappers, Green frogs and Bullfrogs.
So what’s disturbing about the video this kid shot in the Blue Hills? If you watch the technique, logs and stones are flipped, cast aside, and left to roll away. Imagine a giant that comes into your village, curious about humans. It tears the roof off of your house, picks you up to poke and prod, then decides to put you back on the ground and move on. You look up and shout, “Hey, jerk! put my roof back!” but to no avail. You’re left out in the driveway with compromised shelter.

Collecting has its place in growing up and in exciting kids to become scientists. State land is “our nature,” to paraphrase one major landowning state agency, and people will collect wildlife from state lands. If they’re collecting according to the Bay State’s hunting and fishing laws, then I say have at it. But for crying out loud, put the roof back on the house. It’s the ethical way to pillage. ~ MR Burne