Thanks to everyone who watched Snaketacular this past Sunday night – For those that missed it, it’s available to watch online here: http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/discovery-presents/videos/snaketacular/
To the several people that messaged me and added me on Facebook, etc., thanks for the add and feel free to follow some of my herpetological thoughts and ventures here at Field Ventures. Keep educating your friends and family about snakes – they are a valuable and fascinating part of our world, and deserve our awe.
There are also a great many herpers who were not satisfied with the show, and perhaps thought it foolish that the other experts and I chose to go on it. If it’s not already apparent, we certainly did not agree with a lot of what the people were doing in the clips that they showed: that was entirely why we were on there to provide balanced viewpoints and good information about snakes, as well as specifying why, exactly the people in the videos were being irresponsible. Much of our information was edited out, but that is entirely within the prerogative of the production company and those at the Discovery Channel, and I don’t have anything bad to say about any of them* – television shows are a mirror of the culture, and if you want to change TV, change the culture.
To that end I, and I know for some of the others on the show as well, it was all about education: recognizing others doing irresponsible things with snakes is like second nature to many of us, but is uncharted territory for much of the public. It might seem like an uphill battle, and perhaps an entirely unwinnable one to spread education and awe of snakes to everyday people. The battle is uphill, but it isn’t futile. I’ve had many friends and relatives remark to me that they don’t now kill snakes immediately when they see them, and I’m sure the same has been said to many of you: I am confident that this sort of change in attitude will, in the long term, have a greater effect than many conservation efforts otherwise could. For those who think me entirely stupid for being on the show, I can only comment that it was me or somebody else who perhaps would care less about education. We, as herpers, can either withdraw from the culture altogether or choose to engage it – coming from the Christian faith it’s something my forebearers have wrestled with for 2,000 years – I will tell you, if we as herpers withdraw and have nothing to do with these sensationalist shows, then the voice of reason will be absent and the animals will suffer. If you embrace an perfection-or-nothing mentality, (or put another way – give me O’Shea’s Big Adventure or give me death), you will only succeed in raising up a venomous generation of Herpers who are more bitter and crankier than yourselves.
But to those who are out there, educating and promoting snake conservation (and reptile and amphibian conservation in general) – Keep up the good fight! The animals are worth it, and the people who now hate and kill snakes are worth it so that some day they might get all the joy we do in seeing a big, scaly serpent crawl out onto the road…
*Quite the opposite, I thank Discovery Channel and the production company, Pilgrim Studios, for the opportunity. I didn’t agree with all their editorial choices, and I certainly cringed when a Fer-De-Lance was unnecessarily killed at the end – but it’s a virulent lie to think that I must agree with every choice someone makes to work with them and enjoy their company. A horrid world it would be if everyone believed this falsehood.