Monday, June 14, 2010

A modest proposal for protection of threatened species

...The specific benefit to us in protecting a specific species seems to be irrelevant. That the world and civilization would probably not collapse if the caddo madtom (an Arkansas fish) or the helotes mold beetle (in Texas) or even the gray wolf (in several states) were to become extinct does not prevent the listing and protection of a species. Protecting species who are natural enemies of each other opens up morally gray areas. By protecting the sea lion, the danger to the protected salmon is increased. And why protect species that prey on humans and domestic animals, such as the cougar or the gray wolf? I have also wondered how the federal government got the power to protect these things. I am told that it is based on the constitutional provision authorizing it to “regulate interstate commerce.” I guess I'm dense, but I don't see what the Santa Ana sucker (in California) has to do with interstate commerce. In examining the entire list of endangered or protected species (at I notice one that has not been given any protection at all, even though severely threatened: the agricola americanus. It seems to me that this species certainly qualifies as much as many of those on the list. Its common name is “American farmer or rancher.” The numbers of this species are certainly dramatically decreasing. Only a few decades ago it constituted 20 percent of the American population. It is now hovering around 2 percent. Its habitat is shrinking as a result of encroaching urbanization. Large areas of former habitat are now covered with tract homes and shopping malls, especially in the more naturally suitable areas...more

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