How much does it cost?

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Noah M
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How much does it cost?

Post by Noah M » March 13th, 2015, 4:10 pm

Just a random thought; has anyone ever added up how much money they spend on their herping hobby in a year? How do we as a group compare to birders, hunters or anglers?

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by simus343 » March 13th, 2015, 5:18 pm

I would imagine it would be more than a birder because they might not road cruise as much as us. The birders I know usually drive to a spot, get out and walk, then drive home. Herpers, such as myself, drive to a spot, then drive up and down the road leading to that spot dozens of times haha.

I would also imagine less than anglers because of maintenance on boats and equipment unless a herper has a really old vehicle haha. For me, my car is in good shape. I know two charter boat captains, and then my uncle who keeps a boat to fish in his spare time, and the cost for them (even my uncle with his small boat) for yearly maintenance is less then me for my car.

I'm not factoring cameras in here, because of a huge range of values for cameras. I'm just looking at generalized expenses.

Birding is a more "accepted" hobby, at least in my area, and then fishing is a source of income for a lot more people than birding or herping, so I'm pretty sure there may be expense reports etc out there for birding and fishing - I have no idea for herping though.

Leaving car maintenance and gas out of the equation, I only spend about $40 a year. For my own fishing expenses, I usually spend about $60 a year, for my state permit, new lures, and usually a new rod as well.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbeck » March 13th, 2015, 6:20 pm

My most frequented spot for road cruising puts over 200 miles on my car in a typical night -75m out there, 75m back, and the road of choice is 25 miles long (down and back is 50m). In the prime of the season, I go one to three times a month. So gas is usually my biggest expense. As mentioned, camera gear may be difficult to factor in, but there is an ever-present (and nearly ever-out-of-reach) list of gear that I'm looking to get.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by chris_mcmartin » March 13th, 2015, 6:33 pm

From the 2013 Fall Herpers Survey:
Field herpers tend to spend at least 10 days pursuing this activity in their own state, and at least 3 days if they are visiting from out of state. Respondents spend at least $375 annually if herping in their own state (for food, lodging, permits, etc.), and $175 or more if herping another state (with the exception of Nevada, which saw out-of-state herpers spend a median $50 annually). The number of field herping trips respondents make to/in each state have declined over time (except for Arizona, for which respondents said their number of trips remained steady or increased). The primary reason given for the decrease was that the respondent moved, followed closely by decreased amount of time available due to work requirements.
Some birders spend an awful lot on gas and travel, too.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by cbernz » March 13th, 2015, 7:50 pm

Birders who "chase" outspend just about everyone else on travel alone. I know some veteran chasers. These are people who will drive from NJ to TX and back or fly all the way to the Aleutians at the drop of a hat to chase a single rare bird. Birders who attempt a countrywide "big year" spend tens of thousands of dollars on travel, but those are exceptional cases.

My observation is that regular birders, in general, tend to go for more comfortable accomodations when traveling. Birders as a group average somewhat older and generally somewhat richer than herpers (there seem to be way more white-collar birders than white-collar herpers). Then you have to factor in the cost of binoculars, scope, and tripod, which might total 5 or 6 grand at the upper end of the spectrum.

There are whole groups of birds (seabirds in particular) that are intrinsically expensive, because you need to take a boat onto the ocean to have a chance to see them. A single-day pelagic trip will usually set you back at least $100.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by chrish » March 14th, 2015, 3:29 am

I am both a dedicated birder and herper. I don't fish.

My feeling is that fishermen spend the most over the course of their hobbies. They generally have more gear, it is expensive and it wears out faster than herping or birding gear. Then there is the need to get out into the water, so you need to travel to the lake/shore and may even need to rent/buy a boat.

Birders spend more than herpers on their hobby for three main reasons I can think of.

1. Decent gear is more expensive. Birders generally must have binoculars. A decent pair of binoculars can run a minimum of $300 dollars and many birders eventually get pairs that run many times this price. That said, a pair of quality binoculars has really dropped in price over the last 20 years. You can get a really excellent pair for $300 that used to cost $1200-$1500.
Herpers have no "mandatory" expense like that. You can make all the herping you gear you need or even get by without it. While herpers are more likely to carry a camera, birding photo gear is so much more expensive that it very quickly cancels out herping photography expense.

2. As cbernz pointed out, birders spend more because they can. The average age (and therefore the average net worth) of birders is higher than the average age (& net worth) of herpers. Therefore it is a tough comparison to make. Most birders travel distances to see birds because they can. Fewer herpers have that opportunity. Birders don't camp or sleep in their cars in a highway rest stop as often as herpers. They get a hotel because they can afford it. Birders are more likely to be able to afford to eat out 3x per day at a nicer restaurant and not have to eat sandwiches everyday for a week out of their ice chests.

3. Birders travel more. Birders travel more/further because many birders have spouses/partners that also bird. This is less common in herpers in my experience. If you and your partner have the same idea of a great vacation, you are more likely to take it. Because birders average older, they have less responsibility for the care of young children than a lot of herpers. Therefore, they are more free to travel. Of course, herping is a bit more child-friendly than birding because noise isn't an issue while herping.

Although birders probably travel more, in reality birders don't have to travel more because there are more bird species than herp species in any particular region of the planet. For example, my well documented county has more herp species recorded (historically) than any other county in Texas (~100 IIRC). There are just under 450 species of bird documented in the county. And the birds present changes with the season much more so than herps.

One last point to consider when thinking about herping vs. birding expense. Even though herpers may drive a lot of miles in a few months of the year, birders drive those miles 12 months of the year.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Noah M » March 14th, 2015, 5:34 am

This is all very interesting, and there are cerainly different levels to the whole thing.

Some anglers will fly to remote parts of the world to fish for special species - e.g. Canada is a well known location for fishing lodges and camps. Down here in Florida in the Keys we have the sport fishing capital of the world, and I'm sure there are some pretty expensive charters there. But it doesn't have to be this way, I'm sure there are plenty of people with a cheap rod and a can of worms that just fish the local pond or river.

I know that demographic data has shown that birders tend to be older and perhaps wealthier, but I don't think we can assume they spend more because they can. There are certainly avid birders who only have a $300 pair of binoculars and spend a few hundred bucks in bird seed each year to bring them to their yard. Like the anglers though, you can spend thousands of dollars on gear and vacations, chasing down elusive species.

I think the high roller styles for anglers and birders are probably more of the exceptions than the rule. Statistically, most people just wouldn't be able to afford to do that. It isn't like appreciation of nature is tied to wealth. Poorer people can appreciate nature the same amount, but do so in a different manner.

The issue of driving and cruising has come up among herpers. It might seem like this is expensive, but I also bet a good number of herpers don't really road cruise. I can see several having a board line, and perhaps spending more of their time hiking and cover flipping. Think about your turtle aficionados. They probably spend more of their time kayaking or canoeing, not cruising. That is a different expensve all together.

One issue I remember learning about in wildlife management is the question how their lands are being used, and by whom. This is often connected back to income and exspenses. The bird lobby (Audubon, Ducks Unlimited, etc) can make an argument that their supporters contribute significantly to the economy through the purchase of travel and gear (cameras, guns, etc). And many of them support the use of parks and preserves, either for photography or hunting. So when it came time to make management decisions, the opinions of these recreation industries carried more weight.

I bet, overall, that the herper community is much smaller than birders or anglers, but I don't really know. It would be interesting to conduct a comparative study between us and other prominent nature based recreation groups to see where we stack up in terms of expenses per person. Especially if there is any indication that the herping community is growing. I bet there are organizations that miss us entirely.

This has been great discussion - I'd like to hear from more people. I find this really interesting.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by BillMcGighan » March 14th, 2015, 7:14 am

My feeling is that fishermen spend the most over the course of their hobbies. They generally have more gear, it is expensive and it wears out faster than herping or birding gear. Then there is the need to get out into the water, so you need to travel to the lake/shore and may even need to rent/buy a boat.

Birders spend more than herpers on their hobby for three main reasons I can think of.
IMHO Chris is generally correct on this, with, of course, individual exceptions.



The real financial hit comes when you spend about equal time for all three, and then some. I'm afraid to calculate our meager funds that my wife and I spend on Fishing/birding/herping.


On the positive side, these three, in particular, complement each other with significant overlap, and thus amplify the outdoor, natural world experience. To a lesser degree, I'd add hunting, invert hunting, plant hunting, biking, SCUBA, geocaching, (weird one) bottle hunting, etc. are synergistic with the first three. Diversifying your interests make a trip out of your local area much more rewarding and can recover the enjoyment of a trip, when one of these interests meet unplanned, terrible conditions.

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gbin
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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbin » March 14th, 2015, 7:18 am

I'm a lifelong angler and herper, and my wife is a lifelong birder. I'd say that chrish nailed it, with fishing being the most expensive hobby followed by birding and then herping, and for the reasons he laid out. To emphasize some of his points:

It would take an awful lot of road cruising to balance out the cost of my wife's favorite (but not only) pair of binoculars. If we were both still into photography (we stopped taking anything but point-and-shoot pictures some years back) she'd stretch the lead for birding even more, as telephoto lenses cost more - potentially much, much more - than close-up lenses.

Photography would likewise make birding and herping more competitive with fishing, but fishing would still win. There's just so much gear and supplies that need occasional or frequent replacement in fishing, and when boating - even just on a low-end rental basis (never mind going on expensive charters) - is a regular part of the hobby, as it so often is, the costs jump that much more. And if one shells out the money for a really nice fishing boat, motor(s), etc. of one's own, well, "fuhgeddaboudit!"

I understand this conversation to be specifically about field herping, but if herpetoculture (i.e. captive herping) is included then the costs certainly go up quite a bit. I used to spend a lot more on the herps I kept than I did on searching for herps, and I would imagine almost everyone does. This point was really driven home to me back when I had a breeding program going for scarlet kingsnakes. My original thought was to produce healthy, captive-bred animals to those who would otherwise buy them from slob herp hunters who like to strip bark in the southeastern U.S.' pine forests beginning at this time of year in order to collect the animals by the bucketful, as all that habitat destruction bothered me somewhat and all those snakes' deaths (as I'm sure the great majority of those freshly wild-caught snakes died not long after their uneducated new owners brought them home) bothered me a lot. But I kept tabs on the costs associated with the program, and it was considerable. Even hunting for a large portion of my snakes' food myself, those costs were still great enough that I would have had to charge an unacceptably high price for my snakes to recoup them. Granted, scarlet kings are particularly fussy little snakes to deal with, a species one chooses to work with for love rather than money...

Hey, at least none of these hobbies is as expensive as flying ;)

Oh, and with respect to the wildlife management issue you raised, cj0000, (field) herping can and does have a significant economic impact, but I suspect it really only does so on a very localized basis (e.g. west TX). I'm sure you're right that there are far fewer herpers than birders or anglers, though. I just wish more wildlife agencies were interested enough in getting a handle on how many herpers are active in their states to survey for information about it; I always buy a hunting license where such is called for in order to herp, and in the survey so often sent to me afterward there's never a place for me to say that the reason I bought the license was to hunt for herps.

Gerry

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Noah M
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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Noah M » March 14th, 2015, 8:04 am

...herping can and does have a significant economic impact...I just wish more wildlife agencies were interested enough in getting a handle on how many herpers are active in their states to survey for information about it...
My thoughts exactly. Even if govt agencies aren't aware or interested, I wonder if other industry is aware or interested. E.g. are hotels near herping hot spots aware of the draw and do they do anything different as a result?

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by simus343 » March 14th, 2015, 9:08 am

captainjack0000 wrote:
...herping can and does have a significant economic impact...I just wish more wildlife agencies were interested enough in getting a handle on how many herpers are active in their states to survey for information about it...
My thoughts exactly. Even if govt agencies aren't aware or interested, I wonder if other industry is aware or interested. E.g. are hotels near herping hot spots aware of the draw and do they do anything different as a result?
When I visited the ANF and surrounding areas in 2013, everyone from park rangers/officials to locals out fishing and waiters at restaurants seemed a lot more on board with helping me find places to look for snakes than anywhere else I have ever been. I also had more fishermen willing to share spots than ever before when we (my dad and myself) stated that we were catch and release fishing only. I think the people in the area are aware that eco-tourism helps their economy because of all the state and federal lands around there.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Muchobirdnerd » March 14th, 2015, 2:58 pm

There was an article maybe 6 months ago about Sibley's new book release that said birding is a 4 BILLION dollar industry in America. When I googled it there was an article saying 20 billion.

To Chris's point birding gear is $$$ bino's top out around 3k and if you want a good scope your looking at 3k + a good tripod. If you're into birding photography you're really F-ed because the good telephoto lenses start around 6k. Yes you can do all of this cheaper but if you want top results you're looking at a life of debt.

I don't know to much about fishing except a couple of my friends are professional fly fisherman and there gear isn't cheap. Rods are 1k travel is expensive, renting floats expensive etc.. I guess it depends on what you like to fish. If you're into deep sea I know it's crazy expensive to go out for a day.

Anyway birding and fishing I would say are big business.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by cbernz » March 14th, 2015, 3:23 pm

Here's the fundamental difference between birding "high-rollers" and fishing "high-rollers." Birders will take expensive trips to see birds they can't normally see where they live or haven't seen before. Fishermen will take expensive trips to catch the same fish they always fish, but with different scenery. I know a guy who regularly flies down to Chile to fish for stocked rainbows and brown trout. That a level of aestheticism is pretty rare among birders.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Eric East » March 15th, 2015, 5:33 am

gbeck wrote:My most frequented spot for road cruising puts over 200 miles on my car in a typical night -75m out there, 75m back, and the road of choice is 25 miles long (down and back is 50m). In the prime of the season, I go one to three times a month. So gas is usually my biggest expense. As mentioned, camera gear may be difficult to factor in, but there is an ever-present (and nearly ever-out-of-reach) list of gear that I'm looking to get.

My experience is very similar to yours.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by chrish » March 15th, 2015, 6:04 am

cbernz wrote:Here's the fundamental difference between birding "high-rollers" and fishing "high-rollers." Birders will take expensive trips to see birds they can't normally see where they live or haven't seen before. Fishermen will take expensive trips to catch the same fish they always fish, but with different scenery. I know a guy who regularly flies down to Chile to fish for stocked rainbows and brown trout. That a level of aestheticism is pretty rare among birders.
That is an absurd assertion. Birders enjoy being out in the beauty of nature as much as any angler or any herper. I will point out a "level of aestheticism that is pretty rare among birders"....you can't find a popular birding spot simply by looking for the excess beercans, monofilament line, lures in the trees, and other trash left behind by groups of birders.

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Carl Brune
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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Carl Brune » March 15th, 2015, 6:05 am

A lot of fishing can be done on the cheap. Stream fishing for trout for example, assuming you live in the right area. But with fishing, spending money often translates into access to more opportunities. For exaple, in the southeast, it seems like most all serious fishermen wind up owning a bass boat and a truck to tow it with.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbin » March 15th, 2015, 7:20 am

chrish wrote:...you can't find a popular birding spot simply by looking for the excess beercans, monofilament line, lures in the trees, and other trash left behind by groups of birders.
Now, now. There are slob hunters or the equivalent in all of these pursuits, just as there are in all of them those who are mainly out there to enjoy the aesthetics of nature. Birders might not leave much trash behind them, but while they're in hot pursuit of a particularly desirable target for their life lists or eager to make maximum use of a particular hotspot before racing to the next one, I've seen them tromp all over the habitat and very nearly each other, blast out bird calls from powerful backpack audio systems in remote areas where other outdoor enthusiasts were seeking solitude, create parking and traffic tangles with their cars even to the point of nearly running over each other and their expensive equipment, etc. People are people.
Carl Brune wrote:A lot of fishing can be done on the cheap. Stream fishing for trout for example, assuming you live in the right area...
I agree it can be, Carl, but except for the poor and the elderly (who are probably also fairly poor), it doesn't seem to me as if it's all that common that it actually is ;) - and I've seen trout fisherman in particular spend an awful lot on their hobby, including just to fish the streams near where they live. Indeed, stream trout fishermen are the backbone of Orvis' business and its outrageously high profit margins.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Chaitanya » March 15th, 2015, 7:46 am

Depends on length and distance from home for trips. I know of birders from India who have spent well over INR2,00,000 for trips for birding to north-east(herping trips from west India would cost the same). But in general though birders here spend more than herpers as herping season usually lasts only for 4 months of year.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by cbernz » March 15th, 2015, 7:57 am

chrish wrote:
cbernz wrote:Here's the fundamental difference between birding "high-rollers" and fishing "high-rollers." Birders will take expensive trips to see birds they can't normally see where they live or haven't seen before. Fishermen will take expensive trips to catch the same fish they always fish, but with different scenery. I know a guy who regularly flies down to Chile to fish for stocked rainbows and brown trout. That a level of aestheticism is pretty rare among birders.
That is an absurd assertion. Birders enjoy being out in the beauty of nature as much as any angler or any herper. I will point out a "level of aestheticism that is pretty rare among birders"....you can't find a popular birding spot simply by looking for the excess beercans, monofilament line, lures in the trees, and other trash left behind by groups of birders.
"Aestheticism" was an awkward choice of words. I wasn't trying to make a moral judgement, or say that one group enjoys nature more than the other. My point was that there are some really wealthy fishermen out there, for whom the scenery and experience is as important as the actual fishing. I don't know any birders, even rich ones, who would pay $15,000 to travel halfway around the world to sit and watch introduced birds they'd already seen before, no matter how beautiful the scenery or how good the food was. Conversely, I can't imagine a fisherman who would take a long, expensive trip to a city to stand around a sewage treatment plant shoulder to shoulder with 100 other fishermen, just to have a chance at catching a slightly different species of bass. Birding and fishing are fundamentally different sports, and the patterns of spending and travel reflect that.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Mike VanValen » March 15th, 2015, 9:11 am

Very interesting topic. Geography plays a role as well. In the Northeast, roadcruising is not as popular (or productive) as it is in other areas of the country. I herp like a birder looks for birds in many aspects ; I drive to the spot, hike it, and return. On average I will visit 2 spots on any given "herping day". So, I imagine I spend a lot less than someone who is cruising 3 or 4 nights a week.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by chrish » March 15th, 2015, 10:27 am

cbernz wrote:My point was that there are some really wealthy fishermen out there, for whom the scenery and experience is as important as the actual fishing. I don't know any birders, even rich ones, who would pay $15,000 to travel halfway around the world to sit and watch introduced birds they'd already seen before, no matter how beautiful the scenery or how good the food was. Conversely, I can't imagine a fisherman who would take a long, expensive trip to a city to stand around a sewage treatment plant shoulder to shoulder with 100 other fishermen, just to have a chance at catching a slightly different species of bass. Birding and fishing are fundamentally different sports, and the patterns of spending and travel reflect that.
OK, possibly my answer was a little snarky/defensive. But I would respond to your scenario by saying "anglers would if they could" or "only because birders don't have to".

If you gave a fisherman two choices:

1. Come to an exotic, gorgeous location to catch introduced populations of your favorite fish from your home state.
2. Come to an exotic, gorgeous location to catch a new species of fish which is just as much fun to catch as the species you love at home, but are different.

I suspect your high dollar fishermen would choose the second choice if the option was available. And they wouldn't pay to go to that beautiful lake and enjoy the scenery and food if fishing was prohibited.

(EDIT - after I wrote that I thought about a fisherman I knew who spent a lot of money catching tuna. He loved to catch tuna and didn't fish for other things. He prided himself in his ability to catch tuna and if you offered him the choice above, he would rather catch tuna regardless of where it was. I don't know if all fishermen typically have that single species.)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And maybe that gets to the heart of the philosophical difference:

For most anglers, fishing is about the act of fishing and the fun of catching fish. They enjoy catching any species as long as it provides the appropriate fight (reward?). It is an activity-based hobby.
For birders, birding is about finding and identifying species of birds, not the way you do it. If you see the bird through a scope, through binocs, or with the naked eye it doesn't matter. It is a target-oriented hobby.

Which begs the question.....which is herping?
From my experience, my herping is mostly target-based anymore due to my limited herping time. I rarely go out and flip trash anymore just to find "something". That is more birder like.
But I love going road cruising, even if I only see Crotalus atrox. In this way, it is more like fishing. The activity is fun and gets me out to a quiet, peaceful area. That is more angler-like.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by cbernz » March 15th, 2015, 10:50 am

chrish wrote:If you gave a fisherman two choices:

1. Come to an exotic, gorgeous location to catch introduced populations of your favorite fish from your home state.
2. Come to an exotic, gorgeous location to catch a new species of fish which is just as much fun to catch as the species you love at home, but are different.

I suspect your high dollar fishermen would choose the second choice if the option was available. And they wouldn't pay to go to that beautiful lake and enjoy the scenery and food if fishing was prohibited.
The guy I know who goes to Chile to catch trout (option 1) has also gone to the Amazon to fish peacock bass (option 2). If I get the chance, I'll ask him which he prefers.
chrish wrote:And maybe that gets to the heart of the philosophical difference:

For most anglers, fishing is about the act of fishing and the fun of catching fish. They enjoy catching any species as long as it provides the appropriate fight (reward?). It is an activity-based hobby.
For birders, birding is about finding and identifying species of birds, not the way you do it. If you see the bird through a scope, through binocs, or with the naked eye it doesn't matter. It is a target-oriented hobby.
That's my point. Birding is a list-based hobby. The fulfillment of the list is a big part of the experience of enjoyment. Fishing is more about the experience of the activity itself. A birding expedition through beautiful countryside where you only get 25% of your target species is a failure. A fishing trip through beautiful countryside where you catch 1 fish (or even zero) can still be a great experience.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbin » March 15th, 2015, 12:46 pm

For what it's worth to recent turns in the conversation:

Lots of (probably even most) anglers have one or a few preferred species that they fish for, many of them are even fairly exclusive about it and some are even rigidly exclusive about it. It depends on the person. I remain principally a walleye fisherman, for example, even though I now live on and am surrounded by trout waters. (An angler's gear is often focused on catching certain preferred species, too.) Seems to me I've known at least a few herpers who have behaved similarly, though many more seem far less target-oriented. The way that birders and some herpers differ that I can see is that their targets constantly change (in order to build that life list), though they often enjoy seeing some of the same species again and again, as well.

My wife's not real militant about her birding, but she's definitely a birder and she nonetheless seems pretty content with a birding outing in a beautiful place even if the birding turns out to be poor - just as I, not being real militant about my fishing or herping, am nonetheless pretty content with a fishing or herping outing in a beautiful place even if the fishing or herping turns out to be poor. I reckon it again depends on the person.

Gerry

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by chrish » March 15th, 2015, 5:41 pm

cbernz wrote:Birding is a list-based hobby. The fulfillment of the list is a big part of the experience of enjoyment. Fishing is more about the experience of the activity itself. A birding expedition through beautiful countryside where you only get 25% of your target species is a failure.
I know a lot of birders, and have been an avid birder for 30 years. I spend a lot of time around with birders in the field. I can unequivocally say that statement isn't true.

Birders enjoy getting outside and birding, just as much as anglers, herpers, hikers, etc..
Most birders know that most of the time they will NOT see any new birds. In fact, the more experienced a birder you are (or the more hardcore), the more likely it is that you won't see new birds. And just like with anglers, it is the experience of the "hunt" that is most memorable and most valued, even if you fail to get your goal.

Herpers are much the same. They go out to see the same species they have seen a thousand times before, but really enjoy seeing a lifer when they get a chance. They will often make specific trips to get a lifer. But just because they don't get any lifers doesn't mean they don't enjoy the experience.

To say that one particular group of outdoor hobbyists appreciates the outdoors more than another is simply untrue.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbin » March 15th, 2015, 6:59 pm

chrish wrote:... it is the experience of the "hunt" that is most memorable and most valued, even if you fail to get your goal.
I agree, and for all of the activities under discussion. (But not necessarily for all of the people involved in those activities. ;) )
chrish wrote:To say that one particular group of outdoor hobbyists appreciates the outdoors more than another is simply untrue.
And I agree with this even more.

Gerry

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by cbernz » March 15th, 2015, 7:32 pm

chrish wrote:
cbernz wrote:Birding is a list-based hobby. The fulfillment of the list is a big part of the experience of enjoyment. Fishing is more about the experience of the activity itself. A birding expedition through beautiful countryside where you only get 25% of your target species is a failure.
I know a lot of birders, and have been an avid birder for 30 years. I spend a lot of time around with birders in the field. I can unequivocally say that statement isn't true.

Birders enjoy getting outside and birding, just as much as anglers, herpers, hikers, etc..
Most birders know that most of the time they will NOT see any new birds. In fact, the more experienced a birder you are (or the more hardcore), the more likely it is that you won't see new birds. And just like with anglers, it is the experience of the "hunt" that is most memorable and most valued, even if you fail to get your goal.

Herpers are much the same. They go out to see the same species they have seen a thousand times before, but really enjoy seeing a lifer when they get a chance. They will often make specific trips to get a lifer. But just because they don't get any lifers doesn't mean they don't enjoy the experience.

To say that one particular group of outdoor hobbyists appreciates the outdoors more than another is simply untrue.
Chris,

I'm trying to figure out what it is about my posts that is giving you the idea that I'm on some sort of anti-birder smear campaign. I honestly thought my last post was a re-affirmation of your point about the philosophical difference between birding and fishing. All birders appreciate the outdoors - they would never get into the hobby if they didn't. Nobody is questioning that.

My initial observation had to do merely with the types of trips birders and fishermen take. You said yourself birding is a "target-oriented hobby." When you pay for a birding tour, you are paying for the targets - the list. It doesn't mean you don't enjoy the scenery and the cameraderie and the overall experience of being on an adventure, but that's not what you pay for. If the tour company tells you to expect 200-250 species, and you only see 80, people are going to be rightfully upset. That means either the tour operator is not doing his job, or the tour company is falsely advertising the trip. The ability to appreciate nature doesn't preclude the ability to be upset by unmet expectations.

I'm sorry if I'm touching a nerve. I really didn't think my posts were that controversial or offensive.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Kent VanSooy » March 16th, 2015, 11:40 am

For me and my San Diego County home, it's not even close - fishing is WAY more expensive. I've always thought herping was remarkably-wallet friendly, especially if you don't have far to drive to find good habitat and prefer to hike over roadcruising. Fishing on the other hand (I'm talking the ocean here) is brutal on the pocketbook - the gear is expensive, the terminal tackle is expensive, and the boat fares are eye-popping.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Noah M » March 16th, 2015, 2:41 pm

Methods, style, and geography I'm sure do matter for all of this. I seems like, by the nature of it, fishing is much more expensive, most of the time. There are exceptions to most rules. I would say there are exceptions to every rule, but that in and of itself is a rule, and I'm sure there are exceptions to that.

Anyway, if birding is a 4-20 billion dollar a year industry. Let us split the difference and call it a 12 billion dollar industry. Fishing is higher than this. Hunting may be comparable, if you include duck, deer, turkey, squirrel, etc.

So where does herping fall. How many herpers are there and how much do we spend? Are we even a 1 billion dollar a year industry? Chris Mcmartin said in-state spending is at least $375 per person per year. I assume this does not include camera gear. Plus, with $175 for out of state, saying the average herper spends $500 a year is a very conservative estimate.

At $500 annually, there would need to be 2 million herpers to make it a 1 billion dollar industry.

That doesn't seem right at all...

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » March 16th, 2015, 3:54 pm

I spent a frightening amount of money last year (including $2500 for a cross-country, one-way car rental). I definitely can't do that very often. But I'm glad I did it once.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by cbernz » March 16th, 2015, 4:11 pm

I assume we are talking about non-commercial, non-pet-related herping, to try to make an apples-to-apples comparison with birding and recreational fishing. Birding and fishing don't tie in with the animal keeping industry in the same way that herping does. I would be shocked if expenditures on recreational herp-seeking exceeded expenditures on herpetoculture.

With all three hobbies, the amount spent on an out-of-state trip should on average be much higher than the amount spent close to home, since you have to factor travel, food, and lodging into the cost. $500 a year might be a pretty good baseline for an in-state herper, but if you consider herpers who make 1 or more long trips a year, the numbers will jump up quite a bit.

I have a hard time answering your original question - how much do I spend on herping in a year - because my herping is often incidental or mingled with other things, like birding or odeing (dragonfly-ing). However, I can come up with pretty close estimates (sometimes exact figures) for how much I spend on individual trips, particularly out-of-state. My 10-day trip to West Texas last year cost me about $1200 (although I'd split that figure about 70/30 with birding), 10 days in the southern Appalachians in 2013 was about $600, and 2 weeks in Costa Rica in 2011 was about $2200. I bet if you compared expenditures on long herp trips, vs. long fishing and birding trips, you might have a more meaningful comparison than you would get looking at the everyday, close-to-home stuff.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by chrish » March 16th, 2015, 6:38 pm

cbernz wrote:I'm trying to figure out what it is about my posts that is giving you the idea that I'm on some sort of anti-birder smear campaign.
I know you aren't anti-birding, I know you as a birder from the other forum.

I guess I am just defensive about herpers "birder bashing". And I was off all last week and probably had too much spare time!

But....."odeing".....you odonate guys need to come up with a better name.
I started down that road one summer (I could sink to "leps") but I realized I needed a new hobby like I needed a new body orifice!

Chris

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Noah M » March 16th, 2015, 7:17 pm

I bet if you compared expenditures on long herp trips, vs. long fishing and birding trips, you might have a more meaningful comparison than you would get looking at the everyday, close-to-home stuff.
I want more industry scale numbers, like the one somebody offered up for birders being in that 4-20 billion dollar a year industry.

I thought a rough calculation of money per person per year times number of people would give me a very rough estimate. This was in pursuit of a bigger picture - why aren't agencies and such taking notice of us? If we had evidence that we're even a 1 billion a dollar a year hobby group, then perhaps we could argue they should notice us.

I'm always looking for fun and interesting research ideas.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by chris_mcmartin » March 16th, 2015, 7:47 pm

captainjack0000 wrote:I want more industry scale numbers, like the one somebody offered up for birders being in that 4-20 billion dollar a year industry.

I thought a rough calculation of money per person per year times number of people would give me a very rough estimate. This was in pursuit of a bigger picture - why aren't agencies and such taking notice of us? If we had evidence that we're even a 1 billion a dollar a year hobby group, then perhaps we could argue they should notice us.

I'm always looking for fun and interesting research ideas.
I'm hoping to get a better feel for this on this year's survey.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by cbernz » March 16th, 2015, 7:48 pm

chrish wrote:But....."odeing".....you odonate guys need to come up with a better name.
Right, because "herping" is way better. "Odeing" evokes poetry: "herping" evokes venereal disease, or maybe hiccups.

"Dragonhunting" is a good alternative, but for some reason naturalists insist on avoiding explicit associations with hunting, even when that is clearly exactly what they are doing. There is even a dragonfly with the common name Dragonhunter. It's a large, fierce bug: essentially the Harpy Eagle of dragonflies.

As for "birding," I honestly prefer the antiquated "birdwatching." I feel like "birding" is a bit ambiguous and jargony for outsiders. Mention "birding" to an outsider, and we could be talking about hunting, or even some sort of weird costume fetish.

All these hobbies need to be re-branded. At some point, "herping," "birding," and "odeing" will all end up being co-opted by teenagers either as tech language or drug slang, and then we will really be up a creek.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by daniel.michelle » March 17th, 2015, 4:58 am

Field helping for me, $50-$70 usually.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by reptologist » March 17th, 2015, 10:12 am

I thought this was a great question, and I would have liked to answered earlier. I do all three. I do them a lot. I have left the USA a fair amount of times to pursue these hobbies. I'm having a hard time giving a black and white answer. I can say as far as gear costs are concerned it would be fishing that has the most cost associated with it. I have many high end rods and reels and I don't even want to mention how many lures I have. Beyond that expense, I am having a difficult time accessing the other costs for this reason. On almost every exotic fishing trip I have been on, a portion of the trip was spent searching for reptiles every night with a headlamp. Any day not spent fishing was always full of hikes, always with my binoculars and camera searching for herps and birds. How do you breakdown the costs for fishing, herping, and birding on a trip like that? As a local example, just yesterday I went fishing to a remote lake that requires a hike of a mile through the woods to get there. I took a friend because I had helped him with his boat earlier and this place was on the way home from his marina. Even though we did not catch a single bass we witnessed 5 bald eagles flying over the lake at the same time. I have never seen that many eagles at once here in NJ. On the hike out I heard northern cricket frogs and wood frogs calling. These were the first frogs I have heard this season and after our long Winter it was a very welcome sound. So was this a fishing, herping or birding trip? For me it was all of the above as are most of my trips.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbin » March 17th, 2015, 11:28 am

captainjack0000 wrote:I want more industry scale numbers, like the one somebody offered up for birders being in that 4-20 billion dollar a year industry.
Federal and state wildlife agencies are always conflating live collection for pets and kill harvesting for consumption in order to make the former look much, much bigger and correspondingly much, much more impactful than it really is. Why not follow their lead and combine field and captive herping to make field herping look much, much bigger in economic terms than it is by itself? I believe there already are pretty good numbers for herpetoculture...
cbernz wrote:... "Odeing" evokes poetry...

"Dragonhunting" is a good alternative, but for some reason naturalists insist on avoiding explicit associations with hunting, even when that is clearly exactly what they are doing. There is even a dragonfly with the common name Dragonhunter. It's a large, fierce bug: essentially the Harpy Eagle of dragonflies.
What about "odonating"? Seems like a natural to me. (But given my druthers I'd definitely go with dragonhunting, as that's way cool.)
reptologist wrote:... How do you breakdown the costs for fishing, herping, and birding on a trip like that?...
The most OCD way would be to try to divide the expense proportionally. A more reasonable approach would be to just split it up more or less equally. Or following the wildlife agency approach with respect to "wildlife trade" (see above), you could attribute all of the expense to each of the activities, to make each seem as economically impactful as possible. ;)

Gerry

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Jimi » March 17th, 2015, 12:53 pm

I thought a rough calculation of money per person per year times number of people would give me a very rough estimate. This was in pursuit of a bigger picture - why aren't agencies and such taking notice of us?

If we had evidence that we're even a 1 billion a dollar a year hobby group, then perhaps we could argue they should notice us.
Why not? Well, my perspective is that:

1) Herpers are disorganized as hell and apparently they/we/you want to stay that way, and

2) I think many of you are confusing broad economic impact and agency bottom lines. If you live in a state with no herp stamp or other way to bean-counter-separate herping from "regular" or "mainstream" hunting or fishing, you're lost in the bottom-line noise. Unless you show up and make your own noise (see reason #1). Agencies don't really care about broad economic impact - there's no feedback mechanism to cause them to care. Unlike bottom-line feedback mechanisms like license, tag, or stamp sales.

Seriously, just forget about the money if you can't get 3 people into a meeting room to say the same thing, every chance they get. Money is power in legislative-branch politics, but organization and presence are power in executive-branch politics. Just show up and make a coherent, persistent case for yourselves. That will lead to influence in wildlife management - which is mostly people management, i.e. managing you.

Playing along to the original question, I guess I spend about $700 in herping gas, $350 in cheap motels, $300 in cooler vittles & $300 in fast food, and $300 in out-of-state licenses per year herping. Throw in another $150 or so for bug dope, headlamp batteries, zoo or museum admissions, and other miscellaneous expenses. It all adds up to...not that much, really. I mostly couch-surf with friends or sleep behind roadside bushes; I shop at grocery stores for consumables and already own (and maintain) all the durables I need. I'm a herper. I'm guessing we are mostly lower-middle-class cheapskates.
I would be shocked if expenditures on recreational herp-seeking exceeded expenditures on herpetoculture.
Agreed, 100%. By way of comparison - when I was keeping live animals I spent WAY more than my field-herping guesstimate - on animals, shipping & travel, enclosures & environmental controls, feed, vet trips & meds, power bills, etc.

I think there are vastly more keepers than field herpers. I point to the existence of a keeper-support industry as evidence to support the notion. Just look at how many options there are for, I dunno, timers, misters, or thermostats.

Cheers,
Jimi

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Noah M » March 17th, 2015, 2:09 pm

Jimi wrote:

Agencies don't really care about broad economic impact - there's no feedback mechanism to cause them to care. Unlike bottom-line feedback mechanisms like license, tag, or stamp sales.

Seriously, just forget about the money if you can't get 3 people into a meeting room to say the same thing, every chance they get. Money is power in legislative-branch politics, but organization and presence are power in executive-branch politics. Just show up and make a coherent, persistent case for yourselves. That will lead to influence in wildlife management - which is mostly people management, i.e. managing you.
I don't necessarily disagree with your many of your sentiments, if I understand you correctly. It was just a random thought, which after posting and reading more responses, grew into more thoughts. This has become a much bigger discussion than I ever imagined.

Agencies may not care. The bigger question is should they care. Regardless of our lack of organization or unknown economic importance, are we big enough as a group that agencies and industries should take notice? I feel like they should, but I don't have much (or any) evidence as to why.

Many parks advertise the birds that can be viewed and the fishing opportunities, rarely do I see them advertise the herps that can be seen. They might have a general species list for the park that has herps on there, but nothing front and center. The one exception is sometimes Florida parks will advertise they have gopher tortoises. This is just one example, but shows that somebody somewhere sees herps as a potential draw, at least enough to make it an advertising point.

I think one thing that muddies the water is that it seems like many herpers are also birders, anglers or hunters. It is hard to parse out the importance of herpers because we often are more than just herpers. Is this a two-way street? How many birders are also anglers, or how many hunters are also birders. I tend to think of these as distinct groups, but perhaps I'm wrong.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbin » March 17th, 2015, 2:25 pm

Jimi wrote:... Money is power in legislative-branch politics, but organization and presence are power in executive-branch politics...
You're right, of course, and that's an excellent point. But when it comes to effecting change in wildlife agency matters, I suspect legislative-branch politicians are more persuasive than are John Q. Public and Jane Q. Taxpayer - even if Mr. Public and Ms. Taxpayer are organized and present. ;)

Gerry

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Jimi » March 17th, 2015, 2:56 pm

Well, I hope I was clear enough to be understood, and I am content to have your agreement (it's sure no requirement though - think what you like).
Agencies may not care. The bigger question is should they care. (...) I feel like they should, but I don't have much (or any) evidence as to why.
"An agency" is sort of a chimera, comprised of staff and culture. Culture (or "the ghost of past staff") you can't do much with in the short term - you just deal with it, and either hope that it changes, or that it doesn't. The staff is what you can work with, and work on, today.

Do you recognize the reality that agency staff are in exactly the same position of feeling like they should care but not having much evidence to back them up? And that the missing evidence would be provided by organized herpers? That's the point I try to make here on FHF all the time...gesturing at windmills, it often seems.
But when it comes to effecting change in wildlife agency matters, I suspect legislative-branch politicians are more persuasive than are John Q. Public and Jane Q. Taxpayer - even if Mr. Public and Ms. Taxpayer are organized and present.
True, to a point. Legislators and county commissioners can be more persuasive when they weigh in - which isn't really that often. And because few state wildlife agencies get much state-appropriated funding, the leverage isn't always very strong, particularly if the state wildlife agency is a constitutionally- versus statutorily-authorized one ("by whose right do they exist?").

In my professional and personal experience, elected or appointed representatives don't like to get caught out defying the will of an organized and present "public", unless there's a bigger, more organized "public" in open or behind-the-scenes opposition to the first one. They mainly seem to want to avoid commitments and shitstorms.

Professional staff on the other hand are similar in wanting to avoid shitstorms, but different (I think) in desiring clear direction from the people they work for. The direction may not be taken straight, it may need to be negotiated (you'd be amazed and horrified by what people think they want and ought to get!) but that is all part of the contemporary public-trust deal.
Many parks advertise the birds that can be viewed and the fishing opportunities, rarely do I see them advertise the herps that can be seen. They might have a general species list for the park that has herps on there, but nothing front and center. The one exception is sometimes Florida parks will advertise they have gopher tortoises. This is just one example, but shows that somebody somewhere sees herps as a potential draw, at least enough to make it an advertising point.

I think one thing that muddies the water is that it seems like many herpers are also birders, anglers or hunters. It is hard to parse out the importance of herpers because we often are more than just herpers. Is this a two-way street? How many birders are also anglers, or how many hunters are also birders. I tend to think of these as distinct groups, but perhaps I'm wrong.
I think part of this absence of herping-opportunity advertizing is the fact that herpers have been demonized, because the demographic impacts of live recreational harvest (assumed to be herpers' intent...) have been overblown. I think a lot of non-harvesting herpers are sensitive to this fact, which I think has led to so much of the "But I only take pictures!" form of protest (protest too much?) we see on FHF.

Turtles are an odd herp, in that almost no humans on Earth have invented nasty fictions about turtles' ability or desire to harm people. People the world over seem to basically like turtles. Lucky turtles...

I prefer to shy away from narrowly-parsing user groups - it just seems like a narrow-minded and selfish marketing or advertizing or monetizing tactic, that "normal people" are foolish to emulate. Monkey see, monkey doo. I wish we could all just unite under a big conservation tent, with a simple, consistent message/demand:

no matter what we want to do with or in nature, we all value clean air, clean water, room and places to play, and animals to enjoy

cheers,
Jimi

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by cbernz » March 17th, 2015, 3:07 pm

captainjack0000 wrote:I think one thing that muddies the water is that it seems like many herpers are also birders, anglers or hunters. It is hard to parse out the importance of herpers because we often are more than just herpers. Is this a two-way street? How many birders are also anglers, or how many hunters are also birders. I tend to think of these as distinct groups, but perhaps I'm wrong.
I think there are several, somewhat parallel, two-way streets. I have older birding friends (in the 55- to 65-year-old range) who have since gotten into herping. In my experience there is a common progression from the relatively clean, hands-off hobby to the more down and dirty hobby: birds lead to butterflies, which lead sometimes to odes or other inverts, which lead to herps. The catalyst might be a herp presentation, a field trip, or simply being bored with birding. More recently, I have observed movement in the opposite direction, from herping directly to birding. The catalyst generally seems to be owls, I guess because in hunting rodents and swallowing them whole, they are the most snake-like of North American birds.

I know less about hunters and fishermen, but I suspect virtually all serious fishermen and hunters who also bird or herp were fishers and hunters first, and got into the other hobbies just by being outside and getting interested.

I've never been a serious fisherman, although I fished my local pond as a kid and occasionally hit the party boats down the shore to fish blues or fluke. I bought a kayak in 2008 specifically for "dragonhunting," and it wasn't until last year that I realized I should be using it to fish during lulls in dragonfly activity.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by reptologist » March 18th, 2015, 6:45 am

cbernz wrote:
captainjack0000 wrote: (1) I know less about hunters and fishermen, but I suspect virtually all serious fishermen and hunters who also bird or herp were fishers and hunters first, and got into the other hobbies just by being outside and getting interested.



(2) I've never been a serious fisherman, although I fished my local pond as a kid and occasionally hit the party boats down the shore to fish blues or fluke. I bought a kayak in 2008 specifically for "dragonhunting," and it wasn't until last year that I realized I should be using it to fish during lulls in dragonfly activity.
(1) In my opinion this is a very accurate statement. That was how I got into birding. While fishing or herping I would see a strange bird and it's actions and naturally would want to know more through first identifying it and then researching it's range, habits, etc.

(2) Some of my best dragonfly observations have been witnessed from my kayak while fishing. The two species interact regularly and can produce some amazing sequences.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Noah M » March 18th, 2015, 10:28 am

Jimi wrote:
Turtles are an odd herp, in that almost no humans on Earth have invented nasty fictions about turtles' ability or desire to harm people. People the world over seem to basically like turtles. Lucky turtles...

Oh how true. :lol: :D

Yeah, we should unite under one big conservation tent, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. You're very right that agencies are comprised of staff and culture. So are hobby groups (people and culture), and I think there is often (unfortunately) a culture clash between different conservation groups. E.g. I am bothered when I go to one of my favorite places to hike and airboat people are out on the lake creating tons of noise pollution. We both want that property, but our uses for it compete against each other. I want peace and quiet, they want to go airboating. I would be willing to work with those people to preserve the land, should that issue ever arise, but there are plenty of others who are not so willing.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Muchobirdnerd » March 19th, 2015, 9:00 am

Recently ProAves in Colombia have been offering herping trips on their grounds too. I think the tourism aspect of herping is growing.

But I do agree that people shy away from giving Herp related information because of collectors.

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Lloyd Heilbrunn » March 19th, 2015, 9:44 am

Well, the obvious reason Parks don't advertise herps as an attraction is that the vast majority of their customers are afraid of them.


However, I have seen Parks warn of their presence both from a danger perspective and when the herps are protected....

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Noah M » March 19th, 2015, 11:21 am

Lloyd Heilbrunn wrote:I have seen Parks warn of their presence
I don't know how many times I've seen signs up at parks and other wildlife places warning hikers of poisonous snakes. You would think that the people employed at these places would know they're venomous, not poisonous. Do the sign manufacturers not make venomous snake signs?

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbin » March 19th, 2015, 4:17 pm

captainjack0000 wrote:Yeah, we should unite under one big conservation tent, but I don't see that happening anytime soon...
  • "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours."
                    • [list][list][list]- Richard Bach
[/list][/list][/list]

;)

Gerry

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Re: How much does it cost?

Post by Tim Borski » March 20th, 2015, 1:56 pm

This is an intriguing post in terms of the vastly varied amount of $$ spent by different contributors. I chased snakes hard for the past several years but am fishing more now. 230 or so days/nights a year hunting herps cost me around $25,000 per year when I figure in gas for my truck. 175/190 miles per day/night was average unless we were hunting "specialties" close to home and lunch/dinner/gear for my kids and me. (I've never met a 7 year old that kicked in for gas.) :lol: I'm fishing more now than herping and it's costing me more even more tho I'm doing much fewer outings...fuel, tackle, skiff maintenance and lunch/dinners make it more spendy per trip. Birding costs me pennies because I do it opportunistically.

Tim

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gbin
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: How much does it cost?

Post by gbin » March 21st, 2015, 4:41 am

Tim Borski wrote:... I chased snakes hard for the past several years but am fishing more now. 230 or so days/nights a year hunting herps cost me around $25,000 per year...
See, this is probably why most of us try hard not to calculate or even do a good job of estimating the expenses of our hobbies. Tim, there's no way I'm going to let my wife read over my shoulder if she happens to come into our office while I have this thread open! :lol:

And you might think about finding a more economical vehicle for road cruising given all the miles you're covering... ;)

Gerry

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