Bird Conservation International

Research Article

Museum specimens: science, conservation and morality

J. V. Remsen Jra1

a1 Museum of Natural Science Louisiana State University Baton Rouge Louisiana 70803 U.S.A.

Bekoff and Elzanowski (1997) (hereafter “BE”) have criticized my paper on the continuing importance of collecting scientific specimens of birds, focusing primarily on a brief section concerning “moral objections” to scientific collecting. BE seem to state either that it is acceptable to kill birds as long as every effort is made to reduce suffering, or that it is never acceptable to kill birds because suffering is unavoidable, depending on which portion of their essay is regarded as paramount. If their message is the former, then I and other museum scientists concur completely, because we already do this (contrary to the implications of BE). If their message is the latter, then we have an impasse, with two different sets of personal moral standards. Although virtually every sentence by BE can be criticized, I restrict my rebuttal to the “top 10” most-revealing statements.