Saturday, January 27, 2007

A question--not about Bush, but about bushes and pigs and things

Off the shore of SB, on the Channel Islands, various authorities have been trying to cleanse the islands of "unnatural conditions." Certain plants have been eradicated, a few types of animals (wild pigs, small foxes) and so forth have been killed off--all in the name of restoring the islands to their condition before man brought these "unnatural" species to their shores. Indeed, so unique are these islands that apparently they once were home to a miniature mammoth, found nowhere else on the planet.

I am conflicted by these actions. I mean, ya gotta feel sorry for the pigs and foxes and things. They didn't get to the islands on their own, maybe even didn't want to go in the first place. And besides, isn't man's intrusion into the scheme of things part of the evolutionary stream? I mean, apparently man--a much more primitive version, maybe--killed off entire strains of giant marsupials in Australia, centuries before the Sierra Club could protest; and modern man surely has changed virtually every seashore, the courses of rivers, as well as the habitat and habits of countless plants and animals already. If we want to restore America, for example, to "natural conditions," it seems to me, we'd better vacate Manhattan and Santa Barbara, for example, and let the Indians--or, for that matter, whatever species was there before the Indians--take back over.

I understand the desire to undo damage we humans have done to the planet, and I'm not against trying to fix that. But the flora and fauna on offshore islands? What harm is it--what difference does it make--if they bloom free now in 2007 even if, in 1887 they weren't islanders? The travels of humans--surely part of history--landed them there and there, it seems to me, they should live out their lives until some other force removes them.

Your take?


Unknown said...

I have mixed feelings about this. There are situations where - especially in a closed environment like a small island - introducing a predatory species can cause real damage. But as a general rule - and I told the Natl Park Srvc in a recent petition - the triggerhappy idiots ought to leave the animals alone and find something else to blast.

Anonymous said...

Here in Arizona the tamarisk tree has invaded the side canyons of the Grand Canyon and environmentalists are doing their best to eliminate it. Also, we have the Buffel grass that is taking over here in Southern Arizona.I guess the Europeans who brought many of these non-native plants can decide to eliminate them too. BTW did you know that pinto beans are not native to the new world but were brought by Europeans? Where will I get a bean burro if that's eliminated?