All That is Protected Does Not Thrive

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The following is a rebuttal/explanation of what was written in a National Wildlife Federation publication about species and extinction. The rebuttal was written by Dr. Valerius Geist.

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Dear _____, I had not seen this particular announcement, but it does not surprise me. This is part and parcel of the same phenomenon: the belief in absolute protection on the assumption that all that is under protection thrives in “mother nature’s sacred womb” – or some clap-trap of the same ilk. However, let me explain why this is merely part of a greater US mismanagement tragedy, a truly ALL American one, alas.

Let me start it this way: right now the national park service is bemoaning the fact in US national parks the bio-diversity is plummeting (species are going extinct) while at the same time they note that they now have over 6,500 invasive plant and animal species in the parks. Management in national parks is primarily protection – that is, doing nothing! (after all, nature knows best, it will restore ecological ” balance”  and etc. etc.). However, in reality, doing nothing allows the extinction of sensitive native species while the hoodlums of the plant and animal world, the invasive species, thrive and prosper under total protection. The national park service is intellectually incapable of differentiating between degeneration and evolution.

To make my point another way: In California, one gentleman, in fierce opposition to national parks and their ruinous do-nothing policy, took over a piece of ground on which there were some 60 species of plants. After 27 years of hard, intelligent, insightful work the count today is over 380 native species!

Do you see what I am getting at?

The publicity making lament of the National Wildlife Federation etc is in good part due to dogmatic protectionism in which even monitoring would be shunned as it smacks of intervention. Ergo, no science, no scholarship disturbs the fundamentalist religious view that “protection” is the salvation of nature. In reality, it’s exactly the opposite! Protectionist policies lead to the degeneration of nature, the longer and more effective the protection, the greater the degeneration.

Has the Wildlife Federation ever learned any lessons from the great and – when it is allowed to work – wonderful North American Model of Wildlife Conservation?

Turkeys were virtually extinct. How about their numbers today?

Wood ducks were virtually extinct, but no more. How come?

In 1974 bighorn sheep across the US were in decline, despite all attempts at “protecting’ them, and that for over a century in California. All to no avail.  Well, the cause of the decline was identified publicly in 1974, a society to implement the rescue was called into life by 1976, and within 25 years the population of the bighorns’ increase amounted to almost 50%.

How come?

How come we have today so many more elk than three decades ago?

Oh, I must also add this one: place wolves into Yellowstone park – where everything is “protected“. And the moose went extinct. How come? We are about to lose the woodland caribou in North America forever. How come?

Where there has been an attempt to save a species from total extinction as in the case of the little Kirtland warbler, the actions taken are reminiscent of the “turkey model”. A group of humans coming together to save the little bird. Raise some funds. Knowledge comes fast and easy with a modicum of scientific studies. And then comes the kicker! Hands-on management to create habitat, and kill off nest parasites (cowbirds!). And it’s working. The universal steps to success are: abandon protectionism in favor of hands-on management. Get informed. Do not hesitate to use fire, ax, and bulldozers, protect what needs protection,  and control predators and parasites.

And find a way to avoid or stifle lawsuits by the zealous protectionists. For those are the real enemies of wildlife and of nature.

Cheers, Val Geist