|Born||Raymond Terrence Hoser
1962 (age 51–52)
|Other names||Wayne King, Snake Man|
|Alma mater||University of Sydney|
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.
Hoser has published several works as a whistleblower, in a 1998 radio interview he said that he was "known as an anti-corruption crusader". An analysis of his work by the Rationalist Society of Australia referred to him as a "tireless investigator" and he has received praise from Brian Martin, a former president of Whistleblowers Australia.
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).
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. 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. 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. Charges of ethical misconduct were made in this article. 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".
Some of Hoser's papers have been published and discussed in scientific journals in Australia and elsewhere; however, other papers have been published in journals that critics claim are amateur or self-published, non-peer reviewed journals. 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." He is the author of the valid names and descriptions for Pseudechis pailsei and Acanthophis wellsi, snakes in the Elapidae family. Hoser's work on the taxonomy of the Pythoninae has been partially confirmed by later phylogenetic studies, but has not been officially recognized.
In 2009, Hoser started his own journal, the Australasian Journal of Herpetology, for which he is editor and, as of August 2014, the sole contributing author of all 24 issues containing 102 papers. The taxon count for issues 1-24 (years 2009-2014) of the Australasian Journal of Herpetology is 752 taxa i.e. two superfamilies, nine families, 11 subfamilies, 119 tribes, 55 subtribes, 198 genera, 183 subgenera, 96 species, and 79 subspecies.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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". 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.
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, which provides a more acceptable name, Malayopython, in place of Hoser's Broghammerus for the Reticulated Python, and Thomas et al 2014, 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. As part of his business, Hoser claims the title "Snakeman" (and others) as trademarks and has asked a number of people, including New South Wales volunteer snake-catcher George Ellis, Gold Coast snake catcher Tony Harrison, and Clarence Valley Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES) snake rescuer and reptile co-ordinator  Paul Jones  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.
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". 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."
Hoser is an advocate of venomoid snakes, surgically altered to remove venom, and has published discussion on this topic, and promoted the procedure on his website. These animals are kept as pets, or used in exhibitions to the general public, and the procedure is regarded as controversial. 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.
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.
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. Hoser's 2003 appeal against the charge was unsuccessful and he was found guilty of a second contempt charge which was originally dismissed.
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. 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. 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. Hoser said that he would apply to the courts for an emergency injunction against this suspension.
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. 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. 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.
Candidate for local government
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- Snake Man strikes | Clarence Valley Daily Examiner
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- "Results for Manningham City Council Elections 2012". Victorian Electoral Commission.