How about a hearty Halloween front and center for the scaly reptiles and the slimiest of amphibians?
And all that’s not to mention the somewhat suspicious timing with the dastardly Hurricane Sandy and its creepy sidekick, Frankenstorm.
A related witch’s brew has apparently boiled over into last week’s quarterly convening of the Mountain State’s Natural Resources Commission Meeting. While the subject usually revolves around deer, bear, turkey and the associated seasons and bag limits thereof; this one was highlighted by some new ones for lizards, snakes and turtles for good cause!
And just as my young grandson always says at such seemingly strange turns of events, “It’s not funny.” However, the increasing potential and actual exploitation of a valuable state resource for mostly European and Asian food and pet markets is no laughing matter at all. Folks should know that the many game and other wildlife species we enjoy today are the result of pioneering efforts to protect them from just such similar “market” exploitation.
For example, the reason ginseng here is so valuable is because the overseas varieties have been extirpated. If we’re not careful, the same could happen to many forms of our domestic wild critters, which reptiles and amphibians are an important component of. Deer, bear and turkey could be next. Remember all the bear killings just for their gall bladders a few years back in the Great Smoky Mountains? Protection of all types of wildlife from exploitive markets is a basic tenet of American wildlife management, one that has worked pretty darn well for the last hundred years and that we may have taken for granted.
West Virginia’s somewhat lax protections for the scaled and slimy ones have apparently attracted interest from some folks that were indicated as being neither: fishermen, sportsmen or from West Virginia. However, some high file prosecutions for wildlife marketing infractions indicate that they were here for one particular reason. That is, to catch and sell large numbers of the state’s turtles, snakes and reptiles for major potential profit.
Fortunately, when presented with the magnitude of the situation, the Commission acted unanimously to pass a basic package of additional protections. This is part of and well within the scope of their authority. Folks should recall that there already are some protections in place, such as the seasons, limits and license requirements for frog gigging. The new package is merely an expanded version for other amphibian and reptile species. They can then appear in the fishing regulations brochure for 2013 along with those for frogs and fish. The package is not intended to hamper bona fide bait dealers or sportsmen that sometimes use salamanders or “spring lizards” on the end of their line or to prevent Little Johnny down the street from catching a box turtle or two.
Nor is it intended from keeping individuals from protecting themselves or their property from venomous snakes. It is however intended to prevent which has largely been outside marketing entities to come here for purposes of catching and selling large numbers of native wild reptiles and amphibians via the internet or any other venue for that matter.
The book on market exploitation and unregulated interstate or international trafficking of wild critters has been closed for a long time. This new package is a step in keeping it that way for the amphibians and reptiles of West Virginia.