Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shotgun Conservation?

The Orwellian term of the day is "shotgun conservation," which describes a crazy federal plan to save endangered spotted owls by butchering barred owls, a competing species, which we now know are the real reason for the spotted owl's decline, not the loss of "old growth" forests.

Natural selection favors the barred owl. Yet natural selection apparently isn't permitted by the Endangered Species Act, which requires that every species be saved, even if the cold, hard laws of nature say otherwise.

Talk about playing God.

The timber industry in the Pacific Northwest was decimated, thousands of high-paying jobs were destroyed and dozens of timber towns were brought to their knees based on the claim that the loss of "old growth" forests was to blame for the spotted owl's decline. But it belatedly became apparent that a rival species, doing what it does naturally, is invading the spotted owl's habitat and wiping it out. And the only response the feds can muster is a bizarre scheme to protect one species by killing-off the other.

The spotted owl saga is certainly among the most sordid in the annals of the ESA. But does anyone sue the federal government for regulatory malpractice and fraud? Is anyone called to account for the clear-cutting of jobs and opportunity in the former timber towns of Oregon and Washington State? The sad answer is "no" and "no."

It's hard to afford a good lawyer when you're living on food stamps.

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