Raymond Hoser

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Raymond Hoser
Born Raymond Terrence Hoser
1962 (age 51–52)
United Kingdom
Residence Melbourne, Australia
Other names Wayne King,[1] Snake Man[2]
Alma mater University of Sydney
Website
www.raymondhoser.com

Raymond Terrence Hoser (born 1962, United Kingdom) is a self-described Australian herpetologist, snake-catcher, and author. Since 1976 he has written books and articles about official corruption in Australia. He has also authored works on Australian frogs and reptiles and operates a snake handling business, Snakebusters, in Melbourne. Hoser's work is controversial, such as his advocacy of venomoid snakes and his herpetological taxonomy.

Career[edit]

Whistleblower[edit]

Hoser has published several works as a whistleblower, in a 1998 radio interview he said that he was "known as an anti-corruption crusader".[1] An analysis of his work by the Rationalist Society of Australia referred to him as a "tireless investigator"[3] and he has received praise from Brian Martin, a former president of Whistleblowers Australia.[4]

In his 1993 book, Smuggled, Hoser wrote that officials of the wildlife services in New South Wales were involved in the illegal wildlife trade.[3][5]

In 1995 Hoser published, The Hoser Files, detailing his encounters with Victoria Police and the Road Traffic Authority in Melbourne whilst working as a taxi driver (Hoser had moved to Victoria in 1985).

Herpetology[edit]

Hoser has also contributed to the taxonomy of Australian snakes, describing new species and new genera, and suggesting revisions to current arrangements. The majority of these nominations have not been accepted.[6][7][8] Hoser's work has been a source of controversy in the field of herpetology, with a 2001 review in Litteratura Serpentium strongly criticising his publications as "less than professional", describing them as a source of confusion and wasted effort.[6] The review claimed that Hoser provided no description of the holotype or type specimen for most of his new species, and argued that Hoser's alleged errors could have been avoided had the articles been published in a peer-reviewed, rather than amateur and non-institutional, journal.[6] Charges of ethical misconduct were made in this article.[6] Further criticism of Hoser's work was published in 2006, in a review that stated that "the level of evidence provided by Hoser to justify his taxonomic acts is minimal" and charged that several of his publications appear to have been made with the intention of scooping other workers in the field, behavior that the authors described as "ethically repugnant".[9]

Some of Hoser's papers have been published and discussed in scientific journals in Australia and elsewhere;[10] however, other papers have been published in journals that critics claim are amateur or self-published, non-peer reviewed journals.[6][11] In a 2007 article in Nature on amateur naturalists Hoser responded to criticisms of his work by stating, "The description of me as an amateur is complete rubbish", he said. "There's no one in history who has spent so much time dealing with, looking at, catching and breeding death adders as myself."[12] He is the author of the valid names and descriptions for Pseudechis pailsei and Acanthophis wellsi, snakes in the Elapidae family.[13][14] Hoser's work on the taxonomy of the Pythoninae[15] has been partially confirmed by later phylogenetic studies, but has not been officially recognized.[16]

In 2009, Hoser started his own journal, the Australasian Journal of Herpetology, for which he is editor and, as of April 2014, the sole contributing author of all 21 issues containing 88 papers.[17]

In 2012, Hoser received criticism from several crocodile zoologists after he named what he claimed to be new species of pygmy freshwater crocodile, based on a single population discovered in 1979 in the upper Liverpool River in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territories of Australia by noted zoologist and current IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group Chair Grahame Webb.[18][19] Grahame Webb argued that the crocodiles were a merely clinal variation of the Johnston crocodile which is stunted in size because of lack of food in the area, and not a new species.[18] Crocodile geneticist Sally Isberg stated that Hoser had not presented the required molecular genetic data to prove that a new species exists and claimed that Hoser's journal is not peer-reviewed.[18]

In 2013 a group of international herpetologists published a paper in the Herpetological Review, a peer-reviewed publication of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. The paper, which included the names of over 60 of the world's academic herpetologists as supporters, and many of the major societies including the World Congress of Herpetology, set out to put a stop to the "taxonomic vandalism" of Hoser and another self-publishing herpetologist, Richard Wells. It dismissed as unscientific, and lacking in evidence, scientific rigor, or credibility, the huge number of names coined by Hoser since 2000, mostly in his self-published, self-edited, single-authored Australasian Journal of Herpetology, and provided authors with the original or alternative, more acceptable, names. The paper also dealt with a smaller number of names coined by Wells.[20]

In June 2013 Scientific American author Darren Naish published a concise account of the situation in his Tetrapod Zoology blog [21]

In 2013, the British Herpetological Society and the Netherlands Association for Herpetoculture adopted resolutions censuring Hoser for naming reptiles without scientific evidence or peer review and what they deemed as "vanity publishing".[22] The editor of the Herpetological Association of Africa published an online editorial which stated that the African Journal of Herpetology would not use any names listed in Table 1 of Kaiser et al 2013.[23]

Recently there have been several papers published by groups of herpetologists, that over-write or ignore Hoser's names. Most notable are Reynolds et al 2013,[24] which provides a more acceptable name, Malayopython, in place of Hoser's Broghammerus for the Reticulated Python, and Thomas et al 2014,[25] which provides two new species names for the Alligator Snapping Turtle, that over-write Hoser's poorly defined taxa. Hoser's response includes calling the journals (respectively Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution and Zootaxa) PRINO (peer-reviewed in name only), a term he coined himself for rival journals. Both these decisions are controversial at present and the ICZN may be called to adjudicate on which nomenclature should be adopted.

Hoser is an author and publisher of a number of books and a website on frogs and reptiles, and has a business as a snake handler. He runs the website smuggled.com, which contains articles about official corruption and reptiles. Hoser runs a business called Snakebusters in Melbourne, providing reptiles for children's birthday parties and catching and moving snakes in urban areas.[26][27] As part of his business, Hoser claims the title "Snakeman" (and others) as trademarks[28] and has asked a number of people, including New South Wales volunteer snake-catcher George Ellis,[29][30] Gold Coast snake catcher Tony Harrison,[31] and Clarence Valley Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES) snake rescuer and reptile co-ordinator [32] Paul Jones [33] to cease using the name "snakeman". As of the time of Hoser's complaint in 2012, Jones had been a volunteer with Clarence Valley WIRES for 17 years and, in that time, had rescued and rehabilitated more than a thousand reptiles.[33]

After an increase in snakebites, Hoser criticized entertainer Steve Irwin to The Age newspaper (of Melbourne, Australia) saying that Irwin had "given many people false ideas about how to behave around snakes".[34] Hoser said, "The way he handled snakes on TV was not the right way to do it. Some people don't seem to understand that if you play with deadly animals, you may end up dead."[34]

Hoser is an advocate of venomoid snakes, surgically altered to remove venom, and has published discussion on this topic,[35] and promoted the procedure on his website.[36] These animals are kept as pets, or used in exhibitions to the general public, and the procedure is regarded as controversial.[37] A 2008 government tribunal ruled that Hoser's venomoid snakes cannot be handled by members of the public, due to the risk of the venom glands regrowing. VCAT Deputy President Anne Coghlan found Hoser had no qualifications, no training and produced no scientific evidence to back up his claims.[38]

Legal Proceedings[edit]

In 1995 Hoser was convicted of perjury (the conviction upheld upon appeal) when he attempted to pass off a forged document, in a court of law, to avoid a fine for jumping a red light in his taxi, and sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment.[39]

In 2001 the Victorian Supreme Court used the offence of scandalising the court to fine Hoser $5,000 after he published names of two county court judges and two magistrates in a book entitled Victoria Police Corruption with allegations of bias and improper conduct.[40][41] Hoser's 2003 appeal against the charge was unsuccessful and he was found guilty of a second contempt charge which was originally dismissed.[42]

In 2011 Hoser was convicted and fined $12,000 in the County Court for demonstrating with venomous snakes less than three metres from the public, working in accessible pits and demonstrating in a way that put the animals at risk of theft. Hoser allowed his 10-year-old daughter to be bitten five times by two species of highly venomous snakes, an inland taipan and a common death adder to demonstrate that his "venomoid" snakes were harmless.[43] The manager of the shopping center where Hoser performed claimed that Hoser's performance was not consistent with his act description and said that Hoser would not be allowed back.[44] Following this incident, the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) suspended Hoser's commercial wildlife demonstrator license and his authorisation to hold snake-handling courses and use wildlife in film and television.[45] Hoser said that he would apply to the courts for an emergency injunction against this suspension.[45]

In May 2013, Hoser appealed to the Victoria Court of Appeals in an attempt to overturn the Department of Sustainability and Environment's (DSE) decision to cancel his wildlife demonstrators licence and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) deputy president Judge Pamela Jenkins's decision in 2012 to uphold that DSE cancellation of his license.[46][47] Judge Jenkins had found Hoser intentionally allowed 2 snakes to bite his daughter 7 times, and compromised both the safety of the audience and the welfare of the snakes during his demonstration.[46] Justice Robert Redlich of the Court of Appeals recommended that Hoser hire a lawyer to represent him (rather than representing himself) and adjourned the hearing until June 13, 2013.[46][47]

Candidate for local government[edit]

In 2012 Hoser stood for election to the council of the City of Manningham (Mullum Mullum ward), but failed to win one of three positions. He received 4.31% of the primary vote.[48]

Works[edit]

Papers[edit]

  • 1998. A new snake from Queensland, Australia (Serpentes: Elapidae). Monitor 10, 5–9.
  • 2000. A new species of snake (Serpentes: Elapidae) from Irian Jaya. Litt. Serpentium 20, 178–186.
  • Hoser R (2001) A current assessment of the status of the snakes of the genera Cannia and Pailsus, including descriptions of three new subspecies from the Northern Territory and Western Australia, Australia. J Herpetol Soc Queensl 2001:26–60
  • 2002. An overview of the taipans, genus (Oxyuranus) (Serpentes: Elapidae), including the description of a new subspecies. Crocodilian – J. Vic. Assoc. Amat. Herpetol. 3, 43–50.

Books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bolton, Robert (26 November 1998). "The Media Report". abc.net.au. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Munro, Peter (29 November 2009). "Snakes and the city". theage.com.au. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Callow, H. Clare. "Investigating Corruption – The Strange Case of Raymond Hoser". Australian Rationalist No 55. Rationalist Society of Australia. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Martin, Brian (October 1997). "Defamation and the Australian media: a case study". Archived from the original on 23 April 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Green Left Weekly Wildlife smuggling book defeats 'ban', 30 June 1993. Retrieved 12 October 2008
  6. ^ a b c d e Wüster, W., B. Bush, J.S. Keogh, M. O'Shea & R. Shine (2001). "Taxonomic contributions in the "amateur" literature: comments on recent descriptions of new genera and species by Raymond Hoser.". Litteratura Serpentium 21: 67–79, 86–91. 
  7. ^ Wüster, W., A.J. Dumbrell, C. Hay, C.E. Pook, D.J. Williams & B.G. Fry (2004). "Snakes across the Strait: Trans-Torresian phylogeographic relationships in three genera of Australasian snakes (Serpentes: Elapidae: Acanthophis, Oxyuranus and Pseudechis).". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34(1): 1–14. "superseding; Wüster, W., et al. Phylogeny and classification of Australo-Papuan black snakes and mulga snakes: comments on genus Pailsus Hoser (1998)" 
  8. ^ Wüster W, Golay P, Warrell DA (August 1999). "Synopsis of recent developments in venomous snake systematics, No. 3". Toxicon 37 (8): 1123–9. doi:10.1016/S0041-0101(98)00248-7. PMID 10400296. 
  9. ^ Williams D, Wüster W, Fry BG (December 2006). "The good, the bad and the ugly: Australian snake taxonomists and a history of the taxonomy of Australia's venomous snakes". Toxicon 48 (7): 919–30. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2006.07.016. PMID 16999982. 
  10. ^ Kuch, Ulrich; Keogh, J. Scott; Weigel, John; Smith, Laurie A.; Mebs, Dietrich (March 2005). "Phylogeography of Australia's king brown snake (Pseudechis australis) reveals Pliocene divergence and Pleistocene dispersal of a top predator". Naturwissenschaften 92 (3): 121–127. doi:10.1007/s00114-004-0602-0. PMID 15688185. 
  11. ^ "p29" (PDF). Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Borrell B (March 2007). "Linnaeus at 300: the big name hunters". Nature 446 (7133): 253–5. doi:10.1038/446253a. PMID 17361154. 
  13. ^ "Pseudechis pailsei Hoser, 1998". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  14. ^ "Acanthophis wellsi (Hoser, 1998)". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  15. ^ Hoser, R.T. (2004). "A reclassification of the Pythoninae including the descriptions new genera, two new species and nine …". Crocodilian—Journal of the Victorian Association of Amateur Herpetologists 4: 21–39. 
  16. ^ Rawlings, L.H.; Rabosky, D.L.; Donnellan, S.C.; Hutchinson, M.N. (2008). "Python phylogenetics: inference from morphology and mitochondrial DNA". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 93 (3): 603–619. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2007.00904.x. 
  17. ^ "Australasian Journal of Herpetology". Smuggled.com. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c Alison Bevege (2012-07-26). "Boffins big blue over little croc | News | NT News | Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia". ntnews.com.au. Retrieved 2014-04-26. 
  19. ^ "IUCN International - Conserving crocodiles – a risky business!". Portals.iucn.org. 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2013-10-10. 
  20. ^ Kaiser, H., B.I. Crother, C.M.R. Kelly, L. Luiselli, M. O'Shea, H. Ota, P. Passos, W. Schleip & W. Wüster (2013). "Best Practices: In the 21st Century, Taxonomic Decisions in Herpetology are Acceptable Only When Supported by a Body of Evidence and Published via Peer-Review.". Herpetological Review 44: 8-23. 
  21. ^ "Taxonomic vandalism and the Raymond Hoser problem". blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/2013/06/20/taxonomic-vandalism-and-raymond-hoser. 20 June 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  22. ^ "Snake fans vent at vain wife name". Aap.newscentre.com.au. 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2013-10-10. 
  23. ^ "Taxonomic Vandalism". africanherpetology.org/taxonomy.php. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  24. ^ Reynolds, R.G., M. L. Niemiller & L. J. Revell (2013). "Toward a Tree-of-Life for the boas and pythons: Multilocus species-level phylogeny with unprecedented taxon sampling.". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 71:201-213. 
  25. ^ Thomas, T.M. M.C. Granatosky, J.R. Bourque, K.L. Krysko, P.E. Moler, T. Gamble, E. Suarez, E. Leone, K.M. Enge & J. Roman (2014). "Taxonomic assessment of Alligator Snapping Turtles (Chelydridae: Macrochelys), with the description of two new species from the southeastern United States.". Zootaxa 3786 (2): 141–165. 
  26. ^ Toeing the party line, The Age, 21 September 2004. Retrieved 12 October 2008
  27. ^ Marika Dobbin, Escaped python ends up in Burnley Tunnel, The Age, 9 April 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008
  28. ^ "Raymond Hoser®". Raymondhoser.com. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  29. ^ Townsend, Samantha (4 October 2011). "Snakemen in a venomous fight for title | thetelegraph.com.au". Dailytelegraph.com.au. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  30. ^ Matt Meir (3 October 2011). "Only one 'snakeman' | Gatton News | Local News in Gatton". Gatton Star. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  31. ^ http://www.smuggled.com/medre176.htm
  32. ^ Paul's your go-to man for snakes | Clarence Valley Daily Examiner
  33. ^ a b Snake Man strikes | Clarence Valley Daily Examiner
  34. ^ a b Snake bites up as warm weather brings reptiles and people together - National
  35. ^ Hoser, R. (2004). "Surgical removal of Venom glands in Australian Elapids-The creation of Venomoids". Herptile 29 (1): 37–40. 
  36. ^ R. Hoser Surgical Removal of Venom Glands in Australian Elapid Snakes. The creation of venomoids.
  37. ^ Jeff Miller Venomoids: An Overview The Southeastern Hot Herp Society 29 March 2001 Retrieved 11 Oct 2008.
  38. ^ Mex Cooper 'De-venomised' snakes ruled dangerous The Age 15 October 2008
  39. ^ "R v Hoser and Kotabi Pty Ltd [2001] VSC 443 (29 November 2001)". Supreme Court of Victoria. 5 December 2001. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  40. ^ "Scandalous behaviour; Police under pressure; Starbucks Australia". ABC Radio National. 16 December 2001. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  41. ^ Press Gazette, Scandalising the Court, 10 October 2003. Retrieved 12 October 2008
  42. ^ "Author losses contempt of court appeal". ABC News Online. 15 December 2003. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  43. ^ Prytz, Anna (10 August 2011). "Handler Raymond Hoser let snakes bite his daughter". heraldsun.com.au. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  44. ^ Jefferson, Andrew. "Melton shops ban for snake act - Business - News - Melton Leader". Melton-leader.whereilive.com.au. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  45. ^ a b "Snake handler Raymond Hoser has licence revoked". Herald Sun. 18 August 2011. 
  46. ^ a b c Russell, Mark (2013-05-21). "You die real quick: snake handler's appeal after daughter bitten | The Wimmera Mail-Times". Mailtimes.com.au. Retrieved 2013-10-10. 
  47. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  48. ^ "Results for Manningham City Council Elections 2012". Victorian Electoral Commission. 

External links[edit]