>From August Froehlich
"Is the effort directed towards the reintroduction of high-profile species effort which could produce greater benefit if directed elsewhere?"
"are we allowing the "charismatic megafauna" to detract us from other equally attainable objectives?
These are questions that get at the strategic planning for Ohio's wildlife and as such embrace more than the Ohio-birds forum is prepared to handle. I do wish to make clear to this forum that I make a distinction between strategic planning and tactical implementation of said plans. While the big picture is best dealt with elsewhere, discrete tactical issues are very much within the purview of this forum. Among the 460 regular readers there are dozens of academics/students, at least 12 ODNR staff members, persons with The Nature Conservancy, natural history museums, about 2 dozen county park districts, and officers with National and local Audubons, etc. It would be a waste not to make use of this talent.
Jen Dension posted 29 August "It just amazes me that folks seemingly interested in all wildlife can be so critical and hypocritical at the same time." in reference to her perception of the comments listed in "Introduction:Prologue" as unduly negative toward the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
It is perhaps the failure to see the distinction between the perceived support I or others may have toward the shared goals of enhancing biodiversity, and the legitimate differences of opinion that arise in prioritizing those goals, and determining the best way of achieving them. This is not hypocrisy, it is how disparate experiences are voiced, examined, tested, discarded, modified, and pursued toward those goals.
And finally from Mike Zuilhoff . . .
"I see charismatic species as nature's emissaries, evoking in previously unconcerned people a curiosity that may in some cases grow into an interest in other species and perhaps the ultimate understanding that more habit must be protected from excessive human impact and that humans must bring their own species under control. Protecting and restoring vast areas of habit is far more efficient, effective and sustainable than high-intensity coddling of individual species."
Mike Zuilhof explores a different side of the issue of species restoration, not a biological one but a societal one; different but equally valid. As much as I recognize the reality of Mike's statement, I cannot but wonder whether the time is right for society to re-evaluate this approach. I suppose you could argue that CARA is part of that re-evaluation. How much longer will we need to use "charismatic megafauna" to bolster our natural resources?
To illustrate . . . Let's assume I am a biologist with an interest in protecting Ohio's prairies but recognize my aims may be better served using a glamorous poster-friendly species, better yet two.
Consider this hypothetical letter:
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Multi-millionaire It has come to my attention that after exercising some dot.com stock options you are looking for a friendly tax shelter. You have identified your preference to fund an environmenal legacy. Well it so happens that Ohio's biodiversity could use your help. You see we once had two gorgeous birds-of-prey inhabiting the skies over Ohio's prairies. Sleek and graceful, the Mississippi Kite and the Swallow-tailed Kite were sadly lost to the enjoyment of all at the time of human encroachment. What we need from you is an endowment, say $10 million for starters, to create The Kite Society or the KiteFUND or better yet the Mr. & Mrs. Millionaire KiteFUND. First off a hundred thousand would bankroll nicely the preliminary report evaluating the ancestral status of the species in Ohio and we would publish this in our very own journal. But not to worry, in the case of the Mississippi Kite there is plenty of archaeological evidence of its existence here. What's more the species has been expanding in recent years and now breeds regularly in southern Illinois. To top it it off, we annually see waifs, I mean propagules*, in the Lake Erie basin. Why just this summer there was a bird in appropriate nesting habitat near Cincinnati. And as for the Swallow-tailed Kite there is no shortage of historical accounts attesting to how common they were in Ohio right up to 1820. Just look at what Alexander Wilson (father of American ornithology) had to say in 1812 . . . "is very abundant in South Carolina and Georgia, and still more so in West Florida, and the extensive prairies of Ohio and the Indiana Territory". We even know it was once numerous in Crawford, Stark, and Portage Counties. Now working with these birds should present little difficulty given the vast storehouse of knowledge involving raptor biology and of course there is the coolness factor - why we could have kite cams on the WWW in no time. * propagules - don't worry about it, its one of those big long words the Feds in Washington like to see in their permit applications. So what do you think? Yours truly, Underpaid Biologist --------
Now if that bit of fiction seems just a little absurd then I think you can appreciate the concern August Froehlich expressed when he said . . .
"Consider the effort involved with these reintroductions and imagine if we were able to apply similar effort to other land management practices, say, increasing habitat for migrating shorebirds. Is the effort directed towards the reintroduction of high-profile species effort which could produce greater benefit if directed elsewhere?"
If on the other hand you do not find it all that absurd . . . . . ummmm . . . Let's do lunch.
If biological principles are the foundation/rock of species restoration then society is the hard place with wildlife managers wedged squarely in between. Academics can choose to sit on their rock and look down on the managers or offer them a hand. Society can choose to value flash over substance or ease up on the cash crunch preventing the most cost-effective means of enhancing biodiversity namely habitat restoration. Its your choice.
Victor W. Fazio, III
Ohio Birds & Natural History, //aves.net/magazine/
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