Nevada’s reptile policies need a fix

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It’s time we put an end to commercial collection of reptiles and join in with our neighboring states to help protect

Thank you for Ben Botkin’s article on the commercial collection of reptiles in Nevada (“Nevada studies change to reptile collection rules,” Monday Review-Journal). It is way past time for the Nevada Wildlife Commission to put an end to this arcane practice. None of our neighboring states allows this to happen. What do they know that we don’t?

There are only eight commercial collection permits issued in our state, and yet — by their own records — they have captured nearly half a million reptiles since the 1980s. These animals go on sale through websites that deal in reptiles, amphibians, turtles and the like.

One of our most interesting lizards is the horned lizard. This cute, small dinosaur-like beast has been taken from our deserts 105,000 times. Online reptile websites list them as “field caught.” That is because they do not breed well in captivity and are difficult at best to keep alive. These websites and reptile forums warn buyers that this is not a pet for a beginner or even for most advanced hobbyists. Yet they keep selling them knowing full well that probably 80 percent will die a slow, painful starvation death within the first six to eight months. And the collectors in Nevada keep supplying them.

Reptiles are an important part of the desert food chain, not only for what they eat but also for what eats them. It’s time we put an end to commercial collection and join in with our neighboring states to help protect what is left.

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