Re: NANFA-- Columbia trip gear (hellbenders plus!)

Todd Crail (
Fri, 9 Jan 2004 11:30:37 -0500


My involvement in this discussion might be confused with other input. I am
not specifically arguing on a species by species or locale by locale basis.
I agree that well thought research and attempts to breed by private
individuals is a noble activity. The Nature Conservancy's Scale of
Conservatism and Heritage Ratings are a conservative estimate of population
dynamics... Really they form my opinions about take for private use more so
than official state listing (wether science or the public as a whole will
benefit from my activity or not) as they more accurately reflect the species
status than what a DNR can offer in assessment (due to the opinions of the
State Legislatures). They are a good measure for the ethical private
individual to judge which species they add into their attache of species
they've worked with.

As ignorant as I am about herpetology, I can still make comparisons between
populations that I do work with (fish and plants) that are analogous in the
Heritage Rating system. If hellbenders, for example, are an S5 in Missouri,
then by all means, take a conservative amount of specimens from those
populations and Godspeed, crack their captive breeding. Hopefully in your
prior research you can find as a resource, someone who is an expert on the
matter and can point you to the best populations to make your take. Being
that this is an extremely large amphibian, which these days is two strikes
against the sustainability of the species, I do think it warrants a special
effort to be considered in the research prior to take for the ethical
hobbyist. That is the only "species by species" comment I'll make.

What I've been more interested to address in this thread, is my lack of
fondness for Mr. Moore's blanket [it's okay until otherwise proven], [junk
science], and [the locals kill them, so I doubt private herpers will do any
harm] slippery slope he continues to promote. I wasn't impressed when I
first read it in AC, I wasn't fond of the counter-response to Dr. Helfman's
warning, and then the sudden urgency without recognition of the causality
concerning the welaka issue was nothing short of irritating.

Of course, this is _only_ my opinion among many... So as Dr. Stallsmith
says... The mileage may vary :)


----- Original Message -----
From: "Steffen Hellner" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, January 09, 2004 10:13 AM
Subject: Re: NANFA-- Columbia trip gear (hellbenders plus!)

> I am coming more and more to the conclusion that the point around which we
> all are turning and turning is the particular species it is all about.
> If a species is widely spread and stable in its situation overall, no
> debate. If a species is highly vulnerable (whoever may put the measure on
> that) and rare or even more endemeic and local, any collecting should be
> thought about more than twice. I like to take the Bluehead Shiner and
> Hellbenders as similar in this concern. Of both we hardly know how to
> them in captivity. At least for Hellbenders there are attempts and first
> encouraging results showing that it isn4t that difficult. Only nobody had
> tried it seriously up to now. I still remember the discussion about the
> Bluehead some weeks ago. If nobody, or even better some more people, try
> breed it seriously, this will never be solved.
> Despite of unintensional collecting and killing by fisherman, who really
> collects hellbender? Their keeping and breeding needs a lot of room, time,
> work, food and in the sum money as well (at least way more than a big
> of tiger sals ever could) that the number of interested persons is
> indetectably low. Of course, keeping a single hellbender in a tank does
> make too much sense overall despite of enjoying its presence and watching
> it. I doubt many people do it and if those putativly are interested and
> better informed and will release the specimen afterwards.
> I don4t like to counter calculate the losses caused by industry,
> agriculture, and outside activities against collecting for terraristic
> pupose. It doesn4t make the overall loss better but if I (officially
> licenced, if) collect three pairs out of a well planted population this
> would not even be half of the daily loss. And I think this is well worth
> as if only one pair will breed there will be a hundred or more hellbenders
> available for re-introduction to the parents habitat. And I surely will
> the fry for that. It is absolutely impossible to even raise a hundred
> hellbenders for a private person.
> Steffen
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