Why culling "alien" species?

Scottish conservationists are expending time and effort to hunt down American mink and shoot them.

Their intent is to protect local species such as water voles and moorhen, who apparently cannot compete with minks.

Why the favoritism? Why should we care whether one species is predominant, or another?

It's one thing if a species, foreign or domestic, is causing direct damage to humans. But if it's just displacing one set of species in the ecosystem with another, what's the problem?

The ecosystem will adapt.


Tony Giles said…
It doesn't just displace one species though. The species that is displaced can be acting as a pest control to another species and food for another so the displacement can cause a ripple that destroys the existing eco-system.

Look at the Dust Bowl in the '30's which was partly caused by the introduction of cattle over bison so an invasive species over a native one.

Yes, the eco-system may adapt but people are affected in many, many ways.
denis bider said…
Good points. It's just that in the case of mink, the only adverse effect appears to be the likely decimation of some rare/protected species. There doesn't appear to be a threat to humans anywhere.

Conservation of endangered species only because they are endangered seems a suspect goal to me. Especially if the intent is to conserve such species in the wild, because it implies a commitment to long-term, large scale ecosystem management to prevent the weak species from going extinct.

I sympathize with conserving species that provide some benefit to humans, e.g. polar bears because they're iconic and cute.

But I'm not really passionate about moorhens. As far as I'm concerned, their existence doesn't provide any greater value to me than the existence of mink.

Preservation of weak species in the wild is a futile effort because it's evident from past evolution that infinite preservation is not intended. Things come, things go. If we try to conserve things, we should try to conserve the few that we really like, for some reason, not any and every weak species just because it's going extinct.
Anonymous said…
Wait until the Vervet monkeys overrun St. Kitts. They already outnumber the population and they were never native to the island. They make it difficult to grow local produce because they are illegal to kill and will attack in packs to kill local guard dogs.
Wait and see. Vervet monkeys will overthrow the government soon.
denis bider said…
Hey, in that case they're a nuisance to people, and I have no problem slaughtering them.

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