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Taxidermy: a deadly hobby that doesn't deserve praise

To the editor: In the 21st century, it is about time we understand that the killing of birds for the sake of stuffing them and putting them on display is no longer something to be admired. Making a hero out of taxidermists and condoning their practice are not acceptable. Making an industry out of killing is deplorable. ("Taxidermist in demand for his ability to make bird replicas lifelike," Feb. 11)

Not only are these birds living creatures with feelings that deserve to be protected and not hunted, but this type of activity also takes its toll on entire species. It is well known that the major reason for the ivory billed woodpecker's extinction was the taking of specimens.

Why would The Times think taxidermy is worthy of front-page coverage?

Larry Wan, Malibu

The writer is chairman of the Western Alliance for Nature conservancy.

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To the editor: The article about collecting, importing, preparing and displaying live-mounted bird specimens fails to include a discussion of the legal restrictions and permitting requirements of these activities.

Within the United States, all these activities require state scientific collecting permits as well as federal permits. Game birds can be "taken" in season with a valid hunting license. The protections are stringent and the penalties for failure to comply are serious. Taxidermists must have a taxidermy license and are subject to inspection by wildlife officials.

There is a large trade in illegally procured wildlife.

I wish this article had emphasized the importance of these skills in research and teaching institutions while also indicating the limits of the law. For 35 years I taught these skills to young biologists and aspiring teachers of natural history. Their legal and ethical obligations were made vividly clear before they ever touched a specimen.

There is a place for the taxidermy of birds, but it isn't a hobby.

Jim des Lauriers, Claremont

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