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Bear witness

Subject: Bear witness
From: Walter Knapp <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 23:21:22 -0400
From: "Rich Peet" <>

> It has become apparent that the scientific community is inadequate in
> preservation of our natural resources.  Although competent in pure
> research and the accumulation of knowledge, the process of bringing
> that research to a beneficial result or process within any governing
> body has been a failure. Thus, we have the current situation in the US
> where environmentalists are considered extreme, odd, and have been
> rendered ineffective.  At best it will take a lifetime to undo the
> environmental damage done in recent years both on a policy basis and a
> practicing basis.

I don't remember it being in my job description as a biologist that I
was to be the one to preserve natural resources. Scientists provide
information suitable for making such decisions. In some cases multiple
opinions too.

> What I perceive as the most viable way to invoke changes to preserve
> habitats and the wilds remaining must be inspired from the general
> population, the layman.  But the general population has little if any
> knowledge to assist.  As a general rule even our most abundant species
> are never identified and taught anywhere in the educational system.
> Without any knowledge or exposure to what is common let alone rare,
> how can we expect the political process to save anything?
> Each within this group holds a tool that can activate large groups of
> people.  The sound recorder.  The process in which to have this tool
> useful is to simply bear witness.
> Pick a sound or sound field that is important to you and share it.
> Share it often and with as many people as possible.  If the location
> needs protection don't share the exact location but share the sound.
> Share information about that sound and get interest in the sound.

I do not believe in this idea that the public must be kept away from
rare species. I do not have a ideal solution, but I do know that keeping
the public out just insures no interest in preservation for the average

To have secret, locked up locations was one of the biggest errors of the
scientific community. It looks far too much like you just want a private
preserve for your hobby at public expense.

I do agree with the idea of sharing, that is important, but it's only a
good step if it goes all the way. The obvious next step for folks you
are sharing with is to experience it themselves.

> example;
> Four years ago I started searching for the Northern Cricket Frog.  A
> frog that is endangered, having been reduced to only one remaining
> pond in MN.  The experts would not give me the location of this pond,
> fearing that it would be loved to death, so I searched for and found
> it.  In this area the local city was continuing to dump debris and in
> my first year just one frog was found calling. Then the state who
> really did not want to protect a pond located within 5 miles of the
> largest shopping mall in the country, did a dna testing to try and get
> off the hook of protecting them.

It is far too extreme to call a few individuals of a species at the edge
of their range endangered when the species is found in very large
numbers across half the country.  It is endangered only if political
boundaries have any biologic significance, and they do not. Suppose
instead of doing it state by state we did this county by county?

I listened to hundreds of Northern Cricket Frogs in Kentucky on my way
home, and even recorded some. We have some small ponds here where the
numbers would be in the thousands. I also listened to Northern Cricket
Frogs on my way out on my trip in other states. Scarce, they are not.

It is a very scarce population at the extreme of the species range in
MN. Maybe of importance to people there to protect, but not of any
significant importance to the species as a whole.



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