About 18 years ago or so, I was collecting insects in the Gila Wilderness in southwest NM. I came across several salamanders and I knew right away that they were an undescribed species. I have a background in herpetology before I went into entomology. I captured four adults and brought them home with me. I asked the herp fellow at UNM 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 twice in the last 18 years 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 herpetologist was very upset as he thought he would get to publish a paper describing a new species of salamander. It didn’t happen. Personally I think the salamanders were better off remaining anonymous. We collect new species, kill and preserve them and then go looking for more of them to see how far they range and, of course, we kill and preserve all that we find. That isn’t the kind of science I want any more part of.
The question is, is it necessary to go out and kill a lot of insects and other animals 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 and others. I was well paid with taxpayer money to ID these arthropods. We 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, but now I am not so sure. 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 things that have a positive interest in society, such has health care. 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?