Disagreements on "Organism is wild" and "Location is accurate"

If I catch a snake in Africa and bring it to California, the snake has arrived in California by human means. If it escapes, it’s still in California by human means. I don’t see why that would suddenly be a wild animal. Now, if two snakes escaped and bred, that’s another thing. The feral hogs we see now aren’t escaped domestic animals, they’re descendents of escaped domestic and wild animals.

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Because unitentional movement by humans doesn’t make organism captive by iNat rules. iNat doesn’t see wild status as sign of population and only looks at particular specimen.


I’m referring to observations of living insects that have just been placed in a container

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Something like these:

Where they were held in a jar at the site of collection just long enough to photograph from different angles?


Many of them appear to have been taken outdoors, yes

This is listed as an example of wild on the iNat help page:

“snake that you just picked up (yes, it’s in your hand where you intended it to be, but the place and time is where the snake intended to be)”


The problem with that definition as you are proposing it is that there is no definable boundary between wild and captive.

  • If a snake escapes captivity, how long does it have to be living out of captivity before it is considered wild?
  • Or because it was once in captivity is it considered captive even 5 years after it has been living on its own?
  • If an animal is gravid when it escapes and gives birth the next day, are its babies “wild”?
  • What if the babies escaped during/immediately after the birthing process (cage wasn’t secure enough for small individuals). Would that somehow be different than if the snake had escaped the day before and the babies had been born in the wild?

You end up with a lot of judgement calls and people disagree about where the boundary should lie.
That’s the benefit of making the choice “in captivity” or “not in captivity” (i.e. “wild”)

I think a lot of the problem with this distinction is the vague use of the word “wild”? It would be much easier to resolve for most people if the choices were in captivity or not in captivity.


This question is conflating “introduced/native” with “wild/captive”, when these are descriptions of distinctly different things. The former pair are a characteristic of the population, the latter of the individual. iNat is asking you to give information on the latter, because it pertains to the specific record.


This is a great suggestion, and worthy of a feature request, I think. That simple change would alleviate a lot of confusion about misinterpreting “wild” to mean “native” and/or “established”.


The other problem is the same DQA does double duty and applies to plants, too, and with those it works opposite.

So just changing the wording to “in captivity”/“not in captivity” doesn’t reflect the judgement iNat wants applied to plants (origin matters), which is the opposite of animals (current state matters)


Just thought I’d note - I’ve been going through lots of escaped herp observations recently and noticed that just a couple of users are the ones mainly voting location inaccurate.


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