The War on Chiropterology

From the Great State of Arizona comes this exciting news from Militia Summer Camp (boldface mine):

Three scientists who were studying bats in a cave near the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona were confronted by heavily armed militiamen who mistook them for illegal border-crossers or smugglers…

The Arizona researchers reportedly told a sheriff’s deputy they were walking back to their campsite on Aug. 23 when a group of men who later identified themselves as a militia group shone a spotlight and started shouting at them in Spanish, the Nogales International reported.

The scientists identified themselves and continued on their way, but the militiamen — dressed in camouflage clothing and carrying a shotgun — later apologetically approached the scientists again at their campsite, leading to another “aggressive” encounter. The militiamen did not threaten or point their guns at the researchers, but one scientist said he was concerned for the safety of others who were camping in the area.

In my limited experience as a field biologist (really, scuba gear and everything), I was once confronted by a couple of very polite people with shotguns, who thought we were stealing about $250,000 worth of oyster spat (baby oysters). When they discovered we were studying an aquatic pest (from their perspective) that fouls oyster, we were suddenly their best friends. Ah, life before line commands…those were the days…

But I digress.

Most field biologists are pretty good at talking their way out of these sorts of situations, but between this, and the occasional run-ins with the Border Patrol, people are going to get killed, simply because someone wants to mow your lawn or process your food* for money. This is nuts.

*Oddly enough, you never hear these ‘patriots’ discuss how undocumented laborers are used to bust unions. Shocking, I know.

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