As the herping season is now in full swing in the San Francisco Bay Area, more and more herpers are hitting the field. Although field herping is not the most popular outdoor hobby (compared to, say, hiking or birding), it is certainly more interactive in regards to direct contact between nature and people. This being true, herpers should understand that their actions greatly influence not only the animals, but the habitat as well.
Recently, I have noticed that many of the spots that I visit to observe herps (in particular, rock outcroppings that serve as prime habitat for the highly sought after California Mountain Kingsnake) have been worked over by other people. One could easily tell that other people have been there doing what I do- looking for snakes.
This is perfectly fine. It is great to know that other people appreciate these animals as much as I do. It is amazing to know that other people share the same knowledge and understanding of the natural history of these often misunderstood and dismissed animals.
However, what is not fine is when other herpers forget about basic herping etiquette. Foremost, it is not OK to leave a spot in ruins after you have herped it. At a spot where I regularly find mountain kingsnakes, rocks have been flipped and not placed back correctly. Logs have been shredded and displaced. Under some of the rocks that were carelessly flipped and flipped back, there were many crushed lizards and ring-necked snakes.
Do these people, these “naturalists”, these “herpers”, not realize the damage they are causing to the animals and habitat? Aside from the obvious deaths of those crushed lizards and snakes, the displacement of habitat (rocks, logs, etc) will hinder the usage by other species. It takes years for rocks and logs and other forms of cover to become prime spots for herps to utilize - the formation of burrows under rocks, the moisture seal of logs and rocks, just to name a few. It just takes a second to rip a rock out of place and have the sun dry out the moisture and the elements to destroy the burrows in which the very snake you are looking for utilizes for thermoregulation.
When you flip a rock over, put it back exactly how you found it. Tap down the dirt around the rock to reseal it. Don’t shred up logs- many herps, as well as other creatures, rely on the moisture that exist within the log. Shredding it will expose it to the elements and dry it out.
Is it so hard to appreciate the habitat that your favorite snake or lizard lives in? Is it so hard to understand how a snake lives in its habitat? Do these people not realize our impact on the environment, even at this micro-habitat level?
You are not a naturalist if you cannot treat the natural world with respect.
Last week, I got into a bit of a tiff here with another tumblr blogger over her post claiming that if a person’s view on trans issues is not 100% in compliance with her view, then this is effective proof of transphobia and that such people are hateful and dangerous to trans folks. Naturally, I disagreed. I cited my own mother’s personal evolution as evidence to the contrary. Well, here’s another example.
Last weekend, as I was setting up to DJ, the guy that had booked me, in fact the guy that had booked me at most of my gigs last summer (when I was presenting as male), misgendered me a few times as we discussed things with his manager. Prior to this, I had already told him that I had transitioned and he was completely cool with it, so I knew that I was dealing with simple mistakes, not transphobia.
So I did what I do… I quietly pulled him aside and explained that I preferred female pronouns, that I knew it was a simple mistake, and that I just wanted to be sure he knew. He immediately apologized, begged for my forgiveness (which I happily gave him), and explained that he was simply having to break an old habit, nothing more. Situation resolved. Done deal.
The rest of the day went great, zero issues (unless you count the time I accidentally zeroed the wrong fader and killed the audio for a few seconds). At the end they told me they couldn’t wait to have me back. The following day, I received an email from him, as follows…I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you so much for hosting our first pool party of 2014 as our DJ. You were awesome as usual and I truly appreciate your time and service! :)Also, on a side note, I want to extend my sincerest apologies for the “He” reference yesterday. It bothered me throughout the day because I felt as if I had failed you as a friend/colleague by that mistake and I didn’t want you to think that I was intentionally attempting to embarrass/disrespect you. I hope that is not the case. I honestly respect and admire your transition and had no idea that I had slipped until moments after. Overall, if you are happy, I am happy for you! Honestly! I just felt it was appropriate that I at least reach out to you once more. :))Again, thank you so much Kaydee and I hope to see you in the very near future!What’s the point of all this?? DO NOT ASSUME THAT EVERY LITTLE TRANSGRESSION AGAINST YOUR WAY OF LIFE EQUATES TO TRANSPHOBIA AND TO HATE. It will only serve to cut you off from the world and make you a miserable person.
Give people a chance. Talk to them. Educate them. Far more often than not, you’re going to have a great outcome and both your life and theirs will be better for it. It’s that or pretty much guarantee yourself a life of loneliness, anger, and paranoia. Your call…
Just like the movie stars who don’t get to star in every film you won’t have a big role to play in everybody’s life but in those people’s lives where you do play a big role make sure you play that part to the best of your ability.