Relevant Links

Your Ad Here

Dumb Science: Add "predation" to your list of things to worry about

Via Right Wing News, this story of hard-core conservation:

If a group of US researchers have their way, lions, cheetahs, elephants and camels could soon roam parts of North America, Nature magazine reports.

The plan, which is called Pleistocene re-wilding, is intended to be a proactive approach to conservation.

"If we only have 10 minutes to present this idea, people think we're nuts," said Harry Greene, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University, US.

"But if people hear the one-hour version, they realise they haven't thought about this as much as we have. Right now we are investing all our megafauna hopes on one continent - Africa."

He's right. It sounds nuts. But let's look at the extended version:

Once, American cheetah (Acinonyx trumani) prowled the plains hunting pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) - an antelope-like animal found throughout the deserts of the American Southwest - and Camelops, an extinct camelid, browsed on arid land.

But man's arrival on the continent - about 13,000 years ago, according to one prevalent theory - pushed many of these impressive creatures to extinction.

"Obviously, gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators," said lead author Josh Donlan, of Cornell University. "There are going to have to be some major attitude shifts. That includes realising predation is a natural role, and that people are going to have to take precautions."

We did take precautions because we decided that humans as cheetah vittles was not going to be "a natual role". We hunted down all the threatening fauna until we were no longer the subject of "predation". And even now, we still have problems:

A four year old girl is in a Vancouver hospital with serious head and scalp injuries after a cougar attack on northern Vancouver Island.

"Family members intervened and they were able to break off the attack," conservation officer Peter Pauwels told CityTV.

The child was sent to Campbell River hospital before being airlifted to a Vancouver facility.

"She is expected to survive," Pauwels said.

He says conservation officers with dogs are now tracking the big cat.

But the scientists tell us that they have it all under control:

"We are not advocating backing up a van and letting elephants and cheetah out into the landscape," he said. "All of this would be science driven."

Well, that sounds a lot like what you are planning. Unless you were planning airdrops instead of vans.

These guys are serious scientists, and they have a point to make about the need for these top predators:

For example, when humans almost wiped out wolves and grizzly bears in the United States, the species dynamics shifted. The loss of wolves and grizzlies allowed elk populations to soar. Elk, in turn, ate willows, a favorite food of beavers. As a result, along winter elk ranges in Colorado, beaver populations have declined by 80 to 90 percent. With fewer beavers to create dams that raise water tables, fewer wetlands developed to support willows. Today, there are 60 percent fewer willows in parts of Colorado where beavers have declined.

Similarly, after major predators became extinct in Montana and Wyoming, the number of moose, which eat willows, increased in the Yellowstone National Park area. The loss of willows has negatively impacted the numbers of nesting migrant songbirds.

Fewer willows? Not enough songbirds?

Who cares about a stupid songbird if that rustling in the backyard might be a hungry cheetah?

Honey, is that a cheetah behind the garage?

Who cares? Listen to that songbird in the willow.

What songbird? I think I saw somethi...AUUGH!! [chomp-chomp-chomp]

Your Ad Here
Relevant Links

Your Ad Here

Create Commons License 2.5
Angry in the Great White North by Steve Janke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License. Based on a work at
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict
[Valid Atom 1.0]
Valid CSS!