Richard, I sincerely hope you have received good news from Ft Myers. This must have been a nerve-wracking last few days for you & yours.
As for your abundance estimates, I don't have much to say. Don't know how you derived them, or how you might wish to use them (and presumably some other life history parameters) in some sort of harvest model. That, to me, is the way forward here - use data and modeling to derive some credible sustainable harvest figures, and then take those to the stakeholders. This is in line with my aforementioned preference for agency staff to be the "can we?" people. A technical question
, one for the staff to answer. Not the "should we?" people. That is a political decision
, not one for staff to make.
What I would caution against, is assuming the harvest effort (or success) is distributed rangewide, in proportion to on-the-ground densities. The harvest is localized, so proportionally speaking, it is more intense than one might assume from using statewide abundance estimates. Similarly, I would caution against any kind of catch per unit effort comparisons. They are invalid, due to the available numerical inputs. Utterly invalid. More below.
This is laughable:
There are no scientifically reliable ways to accurately estimate reptile population's
Abundance is probably the least useful and hardest-to-obtain wildlife demographic parameter out there. But with good design, adequate effort and suitable data, and appropriate analysis (choice of estimators, choice of statistical distribution, etc), there are a number
of "scientifically reliable ways" to estimate abundance. And survival, occurrence, detectability, colonization, extinction, rate of population change, etc etc etc. Ernie, you're out of your depth, you're uneducated - and evidently ignorant - on this topic. If you were educated, or at least informed, on the subject you'd never say something so hopelessly stupid
Switching gears to reported harvests
- I will keep repeating myself until someone acknowledges receipt and comprehension. The reported harvests are biased low
. I think what is being reported is live exports. Regardless, I am certain
there is significant unreported trap mortality - unreported harvest. This is being investigated (by LE) right now. At present it is not known if ~7,000 or ~70,000 reptiles are being removed from living, wild populations per year. What is known, is that there are pitfall arrays out there, each with many traps. You can find live and dead animals in them. Presumably, so can the coyotes, ravens, and other predators - adding to the unknown human-caused harvest (is it unreasonable to assume a snake or lizard escapes predation better when it is not immobilized in an open, countersunk 5-gal bucket?). Because of the condition (mummified or skeletal) and number of dead animals, the frequency of checking these (illegal) traps appears to be quite low. The traps never appear to get closed, presumably they're catching herps from March through October. So even if the commercial collectors are reporting ALL their known captures (highly doubtful, since their collection method is illegal, and their permitted methods would not produce so many mortalities...), there is an unknown harvest fraction as well.
mean number of reptiles collected per collector was nearly the same, 1026 per collector in 1995 and 1016 per collector in 2016
To make it crystal clear to all readers, not just the intelligent and reasonable ones like Richard, that's what I am disputing. CPUE comparisons just can't be made. For all we know, true effort has gone up. Or maybe down. Or maybe it is the same. We don't know that.
What we do know, is that today's reported effort is extremely under-reported. Trap-days would be the honest denominator in that equation. What's getting reported is pure horseshit, from a management-utility standpoint. 100% pure equine fecal matter.
As for the decline in licensees from 31 to 7 - maybe the quitters quit because you can't make enough money at this if you actually follow the law. Or, maybe the CPUE of whatever capture methods they were using back then, declined to the point of "economic extinction"? Maybe they were guys who started in the 60s and they just got old, and they retired? Who knows why they quit?
It would be interesting to interview them. I wonder if the proportion of scofflaws in the population of collectors was as high then as it is now
. Is, now. Is. Ernie, enlighten us, wouldya? You know everything. Tell us a story why don't ya?