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General Legislative Discussions Any general discussion concerning legislative issues or events. Not necessarily specific to a particular region, or even a type of animal group.

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Old 07-31-2012, 03:07 AM   #1
Hybrid pythons killed by wildlife department

Dear all, I copy and paste an Australian news story from today for informational purposes.
I cannot vouch for it's accuracy.
All the best

Cross-bred snakes euthanased
TWENTY snakes have been euthanased after they were found to be a hybrid of two native species.
Environment officials in Adelaide say the snakes were advertised for sale by a licensed breeder and were found to be a cross between Bredi pythons and coastal carpet pythons.
Cross-breeding native species is illegal.
"We don't like to have to euthanase animals, but there are a number of problems associated with cross-breeding of species," SA fauna permits unit manager Sonya Nicholls said.
"We are not trying to stop people from keeping or selling protected natives.
"But it is very important that everyone who does this understands their legal requirements, as well as their social and environmental obligations."
Ms Nicholls said it was important that breeders maintained the purity of genetic stock to ensure the long-term survival of Australia's native species.
If a species becomes extinct in the wild it might become necessary to use captive animals to reintroduce it to its native habitat.
Old 08-06-2012, 11:45 AM   #2
this is pretty interesting. soooooo what if they find wild hybrids? its well documented that cross-breeding happens in the wild of similar species(ex: texas rat snake X black rat snake, or everglades ratsnake X grey rat snake).
Old 08-06-2012, 12:29 PM   #3
Interesting. Genetic contamination is a very serious concern with wildlife biologists. We are aware that hybridization does happen occasionally in the wild, but there is increasing worry that changes we are bringing upon the landscape are making this a more common occurrence due to range shifts, increasing distances between habitat patches, etc.

A good example of human-induced wildlife hybridization is between golden- and blue-winged warblers. Golden-winged warblers typically occupy high-elevation early successional habitats, created by fire, hurricane damage, tornadoes, etc. Blue-winged warblers typically inhabit lower-elevation habitats. However, due to increased human development that reduces habitat at lower elevations, blue-winged warblers are shifting their ranges to occupy higher elevations, causing them to encounter and interbreed with golden-winged warblers. Considering golden-winged warblers are suffering extensive declines throughout their range, hybridization with blue-winged warblers due to human activities is reducing the number of pure golden-wings out there. In the next century or so, golden-winged warblers could very well be extinct as a distinct species.

There are examples like this throughout the world. I'm primarily an avian biologist, so those are the examples I typically think of. Mallard introductions are causing similar problems, since they hybridize freely with American black ducks, or even something as exotic and highly endangered as the New Zealand blue duck.

I sympathize with the Australian breeder who had to get his hybrids euthanized, but I think Australian law is pretty strict but straightforward. If he hybridized, he probably did so in full knowledge that he was violating the law.
Old 08-07-2012, 02:40 AM   #4
OK, now noting that many reptiles are getting carted about by people, either as escaped pets, released pets, hitch-hikers in building supplies shipments and the like, the long term prognosis is more wild hybridization in the wild.
Add to that the general decline of species and habitats, I ask, is it really a waste of time being a genetic purist, or are we really pissing against the wind, taking a long-term position (hundreds of years).

All the best
Old 08-07-2012, 01:55 PM   #5
"Genetic contamination is a very serious concern with wildlife biologists."

Why is it assumed to be "contamination" rather than basic evolution?

"human-induced wildlife hybridization..."

Humans are part of nature, are they not? If hybridization of the birds you cited were caused by animal(s) other than Homo sapiens, would it be a problem or not?

Just curious...
Old 08-11-2012, 11:03 AM   #6
While hybridization does occur in nature on occassion, there have been issues with humans hybridizing animals and then having them released into the wild. Domestic Cats are a great example of this.......
Old 08-11-2012, 12:47 PM   #7
I'm interested to know everyone's thoughts on how selective breeding can damage a species?
Old 08-11-2012, 03:28 PM   #8
Selective breeding will cause genetic deterioration overtime. Look at all the albino snakes that are born missing eyes. I think certain ball python morphs carry genetic disorders because of heavy selective breeding too (corkscrewing in spider ball morphs) Selective breeding often results in inbreeding as well, and that can cause obvious problems too. Certain dog breeds carry genetic disorders like hip displaysia, eye problems, etc..... Overall selective breeding is destined to destroy a species genetic makeup. Im not bashing anyone who loves to breed for selectivity, im only stating what will happen if it spirals out of control and there is no sort of control to keep it in check (I.E. introducing new genes into a gene pool).
Old 08-11-2012, 09:04 PM   #9

Selective breeding by its very nature usually results in diminished genetic variety within each animal. Wild "orginals" carry much more genetic variation and therefore are more able to produce adaptations when conditions alter (such as climate change).

Also I think you have to be aware of how sensitive the Australians are to "Introduced" animals, as they are now living with the legacy of plagues of rabbits etc, introduced in less educated times.
Old 08-13-2012, 11:14 AM   #10
The entire argument of selective breeding, especially in favor of simple recessive traits, is misunderstood by far too many people in our "industry" - I think the bigger problem lies in the lack of patience exhibited by breeders to create the next "epic super rare ultra mega foxy snake" or the most super-hypo-transluscent-silkback-dunner-paradox bearded dragon. So many of these recessive genes (and we know that most of them are recessive) have never been raised out into adulthood (adulthood not necessarily correlating with "breeding size") prior to combining them with 2+ OTHER simple recessives to create something else. Honestly, how do we know as a reptile community that all Pumas (in terms of ball pythons) don't die at 6 years old? We don't. It's a long shot, I know, but I think my point is obvious.

The same occurs in terms of things like the spider morphs in balls and the enigma morphs in leopard geckos. These genes (codominant/dominant, respectively) are KNOWN to carry neurological comorbidities along with them, yet still, they're being bred over, and over, and over, and over again - to the detriment of the animal and the species as a whole. Artificially weakening the gene pool is the last thing you really want to do as a responsible reptile breeder. I know that most people have no qualms breeding these genetic combos, but anyone saying that "well, the parents had no signs of the spider wobble or enigma syndrome, thus, the babies will show even fewer phenotypical symptoms, and eventually, we'll be able to breed it out" has clearly never taken a genetics course in their entire life. It doesn't work that way.

There is a LOT to be said for selective breeding in the realm of creating visually stunning animals, and I'm not a hypocrite, I do it too, but I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has to be done responsibly. When you can show me a 12-year old female hypotrans microscale leather dunner bearded dragon that dies of old age and natural causes, then I'll be OK with the idea of breeding them. The reptile business has become a game of "keeping up with the Joneses" (or the Trempers, or the Dovenbargers, and so on and so forth) - pioneers of the industry are just that: pioneers, but they've done the necessary backpedaling and maintained enough patience to know that what they're producing and selling is genetically sound.

Too many basement breeders thinking they're geneticists.

OK, rant = over.

As for euthanizing the hybrids, I'm torn on the subject. If it DOES happen naturally, that's fine and dandy, but allowing any kind of release of these hybridized animals into the wild (in other words, pawning off your self-created weakened gene pool onto an already genetically sound ecosystem) is not only reprehensible, but irresponsible. I'm not a fan of hybrids either (as I'm sure you've probably deduced already) - and I agree with Helen, Australia is a very special case. Rabbit and cane toad epidemics have RAVAGED many of the naturally occurring ecosystems due to lack of natural predation, niche assignment, etc - why contribute to the problem? People have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to keep captive breeding in captivity, and regardless of bioethics, on the most basal level, they don't know how to keep their freaks of nature (don't scoff at the terminology, that's what they are, love them or hate them) in their living room. A few bad apples ruin it for the entire bunch, and I fear this will be a problem that our beloved reptile community will grapple with for many many years.

Case in point: have you seen the (awful) special on the Discovery Channel/Animal Planet about the supposed naturally occuring Burmese x African Rock python super-hybrid? - I'm just saying, it's not cool to play puppeteer with live, reproducing, and genetically interdependent puppets. Especially not ones with zero Darwinian checks and balances placed upon them.

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