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Topic: Flora & Fauna     Department: Letters

Unnatural selection

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In his letter, Neil Snyder asserts that "it's time stop intervening on behalf of the spotted owl and let nature take its course, whatever that will be" (HCN, 9/15 & 29/08).

If we had allowed nature to take its course, old-growth forests would still blanket the Pacific Northwest. Spotted owls would occupy their traditional niche, and the nearest barred owls would be 1,000 miles east. Instead, we've logged off virtually all the old-growth and fragmented what remains. Nearly all of the spotted owl habitat is gone, and so are nearly all of the owls.

Habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and overharvesting threaten species everywhere. Apologists and greedheads say that species go extinct all the time, so we should "let nature take its course." But it wasn't nature that pushed these species to the brink. If we don't intervene, we'll lose them. Snyder will bequeath to his grandchildren a depauperate fauna characterized by rats, house sparrows, and cockroaches (and if they're lucky, a barred owl or two). But it won't be nature that has taken its course.

Brian Gatlin
Grand Canyon, Arizona

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