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Know the West

It's a feral, feral world


Why don't you do an article comparable to that about feral hogs on the Western Canada goose, a species that some people regard as cuddly ("To catch a swine," HCN, 8/22/11)? Others, like me, regard the goose situation in this country as a prime example of everything that could possibly go wrong in species intervention going very wrong quickly.

I often tell people that a quick and dirty way to measure the health of an ecosystem is to examine the state of the large predators in the system. If they're doing well, one can hypothesize fairly safely and generally that the supporting components that keep the large predators doing well are also doing well, and so on down the line. Here at home, the San Juan Islands of Washington state seem to the casual eye to be very beautiful. But there are no large terrestrial predators except for the automobile. The islands are smothered in introduced rabbits and squirrels, resident Canada geese, dime-store turtles and bullfrogs set loose by kids no longer interested, and invasive freshwater fish like the bluegill. It's out of control -- and a lot of people love it that way.

Rick Strachan
Lopez Island, Washington