Saturday, August 20, 2005

Rewilding of North America: Crack Pot Ecology

Why is it if you have an especially stupid idea you get so much press?

The "rewilding" of parts of North America's heartland could restore some balance to an ecosystem that lost a slew of similar species around 13,000 years ago, according to a commentary in this week's issue of the journal Nature. Although conceding that "huge cultural obstacles" would have to be surmounted, lead author and Cornell University ecologist Josh Donlan argues that the long-range plan also might help preserve animals in danger of extinction elsewhere.
Cultural obstacles aside, releasing dangerous carnivores into the wild may not be the smartest action. Especially since the environment has changed just a little in 13,000 years. What balance would this restore? Or more properly, what ecology would this act be frigging up?

This from the country where sections are plagued with pests like deer who decimate crops or the local gardens. Then you hear the screeching about coyotes killing pets or just being seen near a home. In many of these areas it's nearly impossible to hunt these pests. What do you think will happen when lions start wandering around the neighborhood?

Look at the poll further down on the page. The majority think that this is a good idea.
But Donlan said he and his colleagues are merely hoping to provoke a much-needed debate over the future course of wildlife conservation and ecology. Conservation biologists, he said, "are easily characterized as purveyors of gloom and doom." By putting forth a proposal, albeit one with big obstacles, he said his field can move from a largely reactive stance to one that is more proactive.

True, the current American landscape now includes humans who would very much prefer to be left out of any Pleistocene-like food chain. "We envision perimeter fencing probably playing a large role," Donlan concedes, adding that establishing elephant and lion populations may take 50 years.
Yeah, that's the way to provoke debate, come out with some crackpot idea and believe you won't be branded as an idiot. As for perimeter fencing, how much will that cost? A fence that can restrain an elephant isn't a cheap item. The problems with this concept are just huge.

But, hey, think of the environment. Almost as foolish a statement as "think of the children."

1 comment:

Granted said...

Hell, you spent more time on this than I did. Geekwife mentioned it to me. I snorted. Done. The wild & varied implications are just too insane to even consider this in any serious manner.