Monday, June 27, 2011

Kill an owl to save an owl

Hi everyone,
thanks for a good first day of class.  Here's a picture of a spotted owl from wikipedia--the entry on the spotted owl controversy is fairly good, if a bit brief.

The controversy was reopened last year with the debate about whether killing barred owls (a competitor to the spotted owl) is justified in order to protect the spotted owl.  What do you all think? does killing an owl to save an owl make sense?


Liat Yael Kastner said...

I do not think it makes sense. Can we really judge which species is more important in an environment? It is one thing to damage a business in order to save a species, but to damage a species in order to save a species is backward and perhaps not even beneficial. It may make some sense if the owls' existence put a threat to the entire area, perhaps if it's invasive or something of that sort. But humans cannot categorize and rank species by importance, I believe.

Elissa Ye said...

The thought that first came into my mind when I read about the controversy was, quite frankly, so what if the spotted owl is becoming extinct? Afterall, they are being replaced by a more superior species that could also live on the same conditions the spotted owls did, with an additional upgrade of adaptive traits.

Understandably, the people who initiated this project of extermination is more sympathetic towards the declination of the spotted owls population because of their more gentle nature, in contrast to the feisty personality of the barred owls. Ironically, maybe one of the motives for those people to favor the spotted owls is based upon the conception that people have towards certain traits, by which the barred owls would associated with an antagonistic role threatening spotted owls, whose passivity is more likely to evoke empathy. Although in truth, these assumptions are unjustified since people who’ve come to understand the part of the barred owls consider them to be a friendly species, and potentially well-tamed. But again, do people truly have the right to manipulate the natural flow of nature merely based upon their biased conceptions?

Moreover, what about the aftermath of this extermination? As a prolific species, the killing of the barred owls could be a continuous act of futility – but what happens when the barred owls of the area are exterminated? Could the people guarantee that there would be no further threats to the spotted owl in the near future? What if a new dominant species appears? Would the people also be responsible for massacring them?

I think one problem with this controversy is that people are unwilling to accept the inevitable fate of spotted owls which natural selection foretells. Maybe if the barred owls doesn’t cause the extinction, then some other force of nature would begin threatening the survival of the spotted owls. People should focus more on anthropogenic impacts instead of trying to change the way nature is - it’s not justified for people to decide which species to live and which to die.

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Rachel S. said...

I can see both of your points. I agree with Liat that the logic and reasoning for killing one species to save another is backwards and, in my opinion, cruel and unnecessary. "Rescuing" one species should not require pushing another species toward extinction. Even if the owl was a threat to the whole area, however, I do not think endangering the existence of the barred owl would be fair. It is not the owl's fault that it must kill for food, and I don't believe that messing with the flow of nature is the right way to react. Frankly, there are other factors that are causing much greater disturbances to animal populations, many of which are caused by humans. It is wrong to punish another species for our mistakes. In addition, manipulating the natural flow of nature is very dangerous. We don't know what killing one species could do to an entire area. Other species could overpopulate or die out as an effect. I think it is best to let nature follow its own path, and I agree with Elissa that messing with the natural flow is not right.