A spotty future


Regarding your recent barred owl story, it's hard not to shake my head (HCN, 8/4/08). I wonder how good we will ever be at playing God with the animal kingdom. We shoot 'em, then we bring them back, but only where we want them (buffalo). We trapped them for their fur and took them to the brink of extinction, and yet we continue to decimate their breeding grounds with development and logging (lynx). We were pretty dang successful at replanting them back on our side of the 49th parallel, but now they're doing what they're supposed to do and traveling to new territory, and it's freaking people out (gray wolves). We want a lot of prey (caribou and elk) and no predators (grizzly and cougar) because, let's face it, we've shown ourselves to be the biggest and worst marauders as we bullied our way to the top of the food chain.

The spotted owl is doomed if we are depending on the spotty bits of old growth left to save it. Just the other day, I heard that Bush and his ilk want to decrease the protected forests by another 23 percent when there isn't enough to sustain them as it is. There are currently 39 threatened and endangered plant and animal species in my state alone (Washington). If it goes on like this for very much longer, it wouldn't be surprising if we see not just the extinction of some of our great birds and mammals and fish, but of our megaflora as well (redwood, sequoia, Douglas fir).

As far as the barred owl (we have several in our woods) I don't think it's very God-like to harm one species to save another, when we are the cause for the loss in the first place. Time to think of a grander plan, folks. The broken-down one we're using just doesn't cut it. Just ask those big guys up north (polar bears) how they're doing with the smaller and smaller ice floes.

Maura T. Callahan
Snoqualmie, Washington

extinct or adapt
Sep 05, 2008 08:33 AM
What happens when the polar bears decide to hunt the land seals (humans), because there's no ice? Do we have the arrogance to think a spotted owl can't decide to hunt for rodents somewhere besides the old-growth?

Adaption has always been the premier survival strategy for changing environmental conditions. Since it is obvious that humans (collectively) have a better idea of how to behave than any ability to behave better, we should see ourselves as an environmental stressor... adapt to our destructive ways or perish. An ice-age with an onset so sudden that mammoths perished with flowers in their mouths suggests that as environmental stressors go, we are fairly benign. At least other creatures have the luxury of time.

The most predictable outcome of our profligate behavior is that we will kill ourselves off faster than we will kill off the other species. The catastrophic chart drop-off has already occurred, and we haven't recognized it yet. The burgeoning global depression, with its inevitable nuclear war and resultant massive global plague will effectively solve the environmental problem we have created. Then the only question will be, "Will WE adapt, or become extinct?"