I remember one experience I had at UNM, around 1996. I was collecting insects in the Gila Wilderness in southwest NM. I came across several salamanders and I knew right away they were an undescribed species. I had a background in herpetology before I went into entomology. I captured four adults and brought them home with me. I asked a herpetologist at the university how to proceed. He said they would examine them, preserve them and then go down and try to find more, to see how far they ranged. I thought about that for awhile, and then decided there was no reason to do all of that. I brought the salamanders (five hour drive) back to where I found them and released them. I have been back three times since then and they are still there and they seem very pleased that nobody knows they exist. At least nobody has trampled all over their habitat looking for them. The reptile guy was annoyed as he was looking forward to publishing a paper on a new species of salamander. Personally, I think the salamanders are better off remaining anonymous.
Another question, is it necessary to go out and kill a lot of insects looking for new species if they have absolutely no impact on humans, economically or any other way? I did a lot of arthropod identifications over the years for government agencies such as Bandelier Nat. Park, Jornada, Dripping Springs and others. I was paid with taxpayer money to ID these arthropods. I frequently found rodents, shrews, lizards and salamanders in the pitfall traps. Was it necessary to kill all of these animals just to determine what kind of arthropods are living in a mountain, desert or riparian habitat? Should these kind of studies that have absolutely no economical meaning be funded by taxpayer dollars? At the time I thought it was okay, One day I was sitting outside by my desk identifying insects, when SOMEONE whispered over my shoulder. I looked at all the dead insects and spiders and got a real feeling of despair. I stopped immediately and told the people I was doing this for that I will no longer do this.
A few weeks later, I asked a fellow who worked at one of the national parks I worked for and asked him if the insect inventory was important. He told me no, they just had to spend the money so they wouldn’t lose it the next time. Government agencies lose any money they don’t use. So, the purpose of massacring all those animals was to make sure they got more money next year.
Maybe all of these arthropods and other animals that will never react with humans would be much better off if we left them alone and we can put the money toward pursuits that are beneficial to society. This goes for other groups of animals as well. We don’t really need to know what kind of animals live at the bottom of the ocean, do we?
We shoot coyotes and wolves because they are “predators” or so I am told. They aren’t the predators, we are. We spray pesticides over large areas to kill so-called invasive species. There is no species more invasive or destructive than human beings. Humans have done far more damage to the planet than all other species of animals combined.
The mass destruction of millions of insects just so we can know the identity of which ones are living in an area is as unnecessary and morally irresponsible as shooting coyotes, wolves and other animals and polluting major areas to control so-called invasive species. Millions of invertebrates have lived and became extinct without our knowledge of them and we have not been affected.