Conservation Resource Alliance
Call 231-946-6817


Tortoises or Goats?

September 18, 2001

At trout camp I spent a few quiet evenings reading old National Geographic magazines. I read an article in the April 1999 issue on the Galapagos Islands, which, by the way, is truly one of the great ecosystems on earth. The article talked about the islands and the past and present impact that man has had on them. In particular it discussed some of the introduced species that have impacted the native plant and animals species.

The next evening after supper, I picked up another issue of the magazine (August 1999) and started reading the Forum section, which includes letters from readers. The third letter down is from a reader in Illinois and bemoans "the barbaric slaughter of 200,000 feral (introduced to the Galapagos) goats as an atrocity." The letter closes with "invariably other species pay the lethal consequences of human folly."

As my blood pressure started to rise, I thankfully glanced at the next letter, which, stated, "the image?of a hunter with two dead goats leaves out the impact of feral animals on the giant tortoise (native) population. If the photographer had shown a tortoise baked to death in its shell (because the goats have eaten all the vegetation under which the tortoise once found shade), the article would have shown both sides of the issue."

In today's world we have more people (including well-educated scientists) that allow the precious life of any animal (goats, mute swans, wild horses, etc.) override all common sense, wisdom and good science! In the Great Lakes region we have allowed and at times encouraged the mute swan (an introduced species) population to flourish, at the expense of native waterfowl and swan species. Wildlife professionals turn their back on this issue because they do not have the courage to deal with the uneducated public that thinks these birds are "soooo beautiful." As with the feral goat lover, they ignore telling the truth and encourage a lie to persist.

What really hurt in the National Geographic Forum section was that the editorial staff chose not to respond to "truth and the lie" in this feral goat situation. Later on, another reader pointed out that an ancient warrior depicted in the magazine "had his arrow nocked on the wrong side of the bow." Sure enough, the editor spent considerable space defending the truth in this situation!

Teachers, biologists, resource professionals and all of us who hunt and fish, need to continually speak the truth in these everyday, common place situations! To allow a lie to slip by because it is politically correct, popular or the easy thing to do has consequences that we can no longer tolerate. The truth can be and should be spoken tactfully, but it must be spoken. Nothing is worse than a self-righteous opinion based on a lie!

A Closing Thought

All of life has value and none should be terminated without consideration to the species or to the greater ecosystem it is found in. But to state that the life of an introduced species, whether a feral goat, mute swan or wild horse, has the same right as a native species is a lie! Just because man has made mistakes in the past does not mean that we cannot correct them for the greater good of today's world!


Copyright 2001 Bob Aslan. All rights reserved.


Archives
2019
2018
May (1)
2017
May (3)
June (2)
July (1)
2016
May (2)
June (2)
July (1)
2015
May (2)
June (1)
2014
May (3)
June (5)
July (5)
2013
May (1)
July (4)
2012
May (2)
2011
May (1)
June (4)
2010
June (2)
2009
May (3)
June (1)
2008
May (1)
June (1)
July (3)
2007
May (5)
July (3)
2006
June (2)
July (3)
2005
June (1)
July (5)
2004
May (2)
June (1)
2003
May (8)
June (4)
July (3)
2002
May (4)
June (2)
July (3)
2001
1999
June (1)

Become a CRA Member

Our partners and supporters, like you, are what really make a difference. Your support of our organization and projects are what make the biggest impact. We appreciate your investment. Together, we do great work. 

E-Newsletter Sign-up

Sign up for our e-newsletter to keep current with news and other happenings at CRA!

Conservation Resource Alliance

Bayview Professional Centre
10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
Traverse City, MI 49684
231-946-6817

SIGN UP