8 Wild Proposals to Relocate Endangered Species

February 10, 2012

Moving big animals to places they don’t already live is at once appealing and disturbing, a sort of adolescent environmental fantasy come to life: African lions in Nebraska! Komodo dragons in Australia!

But at the beginning of the 21st century, with 7 billion humans competing for space and resources on a rapidly warming planet, exercising arguable control over the fate of nature, moving species around is a legitimate option.

It’s called assisted migration. Often the goal is to save endangered plants and animals, though not always. Sometimes, as with the Komodo dragon proposal, the goal is to restore ecological balance, and other proposals are motivated by an almost romantic sense of possibility: Wouldn’t it be marvelous to watch cheetahs dash across the grasslands of South Dakota?

As an idea, assisted migration has been around for decades, but since the millennium’s turn it’s moved from a mostly fringe concept to something that scientists discuss, if not argue. After all, many examples of unwittingly assisted migration show what can happen when relocation goes wrong: Cane toads swarming across Australia, brown tree snakes devouring Guam’s birds, kudzu swallowing much of the southeastern United States, and of course the voracious Burmese pythons of Florida.

On the flip side, however, are pheasants and sweet clover, brown trout and Norway maple, which despite their non-native origins are now considered a natural part of North American life. Sometimes relocation works fine, and an argument can be made that consciously acting as landscape-scale zookeepers and gardeners is a legitimate response to impending catastrophe.

Written by Brandon Keim, WIRED Science. Continue HERE

One comment

  1. Reblogged this on msamba.

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