Conservation Committee Tenets
1. Coordinate Conservation Committee actions/programs
with the Education and Research Committees.
Conservation Committee may identify or develop special actions or programs that
would coincide with or indirectly support the Education and Research Committee
efforts. For example, the inclusion of conservation issues is an important
aspect of educating the public about herpetofauna. Several forums exist by
which to educate the public to include (but not limited to) the Virginia Master
Naturalist Program. From a research perspective, the efforts of “Snake Force
One” (a group of VHS members and other volunteers headed by the Research
Committee Chair, Dr. Joy Ware studying the incidence of lesions in snakes at
three wildlife refuges) represent information about herpetofauna diseases that
could be useful towards conservation efforts.
Promote research on herpetofaunal diseases.
incidence among reptiles and amphibians represent potential serious factors
related to conservation of such species. Loss of habitat and other
anthropogenic activities represent stressors on population dynamics and may be
related to increases in disease incidence. The global decline of amphibians
represents one example of where diseases may have significant impact on
Educate the public on why herpetofauna conservation is important.
represent a major component of ecosystems. Such species are critical to food
webs and declines in populations would doubtless adversely affect other native
wildlife both directly and indirectly. Furthermore, reptiles and amphibians
represent significant indicator species that can tell us a lot about the health
of our own environment. Despite these important contributions, the public
lacks an appreciation for the value of reptiles and amphibians. It’s paramount
that the consequences of species/population declines be understood as well as
highlighting success stories. Improving the public’s understanding would be a
major step forward in conserving such a valuable resource.
Promote the creation of new and maintain existing habitat.
habitat is absolute towards conservation of any wildlife species. Without
suitable habitat there will be no wildlife. Herpetofauna not only have this
requirement but their habitat needs are complex. Many anuran and caudate
species require both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. In other cases, loss of
habitat required by prey species could affect herpetofauna that rely on the prey
species. Virginia is becoming more urban and subsequently, habitat loss is a
major issue. We need to seek opportunities to establish new habitat or find
means to protect existing areas.
Discourage capture and collection of native wild reptiles and amphibians as pets
or for temporary display specimens.
herpetofauna are often captured and retained as pets or as display items. This
creates serious concerns for conservation. Removal of individual specimens
removes important survival genes from the wild gene pool. Quite often, these
specimens die in captivity because the collector does not know how to properly
care for such species or the species does not function well under captive
conditions. In many cases, people collect and retain the specimens for short
periods before releasing. This greatly increases the risk of transferring
disease pathogens to wild populations or could preclude specimens from obtaining
Promote rehabilitation of injured native herpetofauna.
many native reptile and amphibian species become injured through human contact.
This can occur through numerous ways; however, in some cases veterinary
intervention and subsequent rehabilitation is possible. In such cases where
trained/certified wildlife rehabilitators are employed, these animals can be
returned to the wild. Eastern box turtles represent a more visible aspect in
that they frequently come into contact with people that can lead to injuries.
This concern along with the fact that the species is experiencing population
declines underscores the importance of rehabilitation.
Support the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan.
In 2005, the
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries published its Comprehensive
Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS). This document represents the
Commonwealth’s blueprint for an effective and efficient means of conserving
Virginia’s wildlife resources. An important aspect of this action is to draw
upon various partnerships in accomplishing its goals and objectives. It is
vital to note that some 32 amphibian and 28 reptile species are of greatest
conservation concern in the Commonwealth. VHS represents a partner to work with
the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries concerning these species.
Seek opportunities to partner with other agencies, other non-profit
organizations and corporate sponsors interested in herpetofauna conservation
professional non-profit organizations share a similar opinion about conservation
efforts. Examples include The Wildlife Society, Virginia Society of Naturalists
and Master Naturalists. Additionally, others such as the Academy of Certified
Hazardous Materials Managers represent opportunities to consider insight on
environmental toxicology. Several federal and state agencies currently have
membership in VHS or are working with members in various programs. Corporate
sponsors represent an untapped source for more opportunities.