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CASH Courier > 2007 Winter Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Winter 2007 Issue

The Impetus For The “Back To Natives” Movement Has Gotten Out Of Hand

By E. L. Eidolon

In England, according to “Illustrated Gardens,” vacationing families are returning from holidays to find huge plants, such as rhododendrons, dug up and carted off, with a note in its place, explaining “This is non native and must go!.”

In the U.S. activities are less drastic but “armies of volunteers” show up to “remove” some of our favorite trees, shrubs and some of our favorite birds. Who gives them this right?

A hierarchy of birds, created by the agencies and bird organizations, such as Audubon and AOU, decides which birds are good and which, bad. The “hot birds” are raptors, like owls, hawks, falcons, who eat the young of other birds. This is counter to the effort to save the song birds and shore birds, on which millions of dollars have been spent in just the past few years. Are we saving them to be a raptor’s lunch? This man-made hierarchy is not based on good, or on science. Such decision making is unsettling.

A recent example is the attack on mute swans. Fossils of the ancestors of this bird have been found in four states and more recent specimens from the pre-colonization of Canada, have been found. Scientists from major museums have come together and have admitted this. Dr. Robert Alison, who works for both USF&W and the Canadian Wildlife Service, has formed MBTAAdvocates@aol.com asking for e-mail of support.

While we all go to work, live our lives, major environmental decisions are made. What are they based on? Grants? Perpetuation of major programs? There are serious problems out there. Loss of birds, trees, and most recently fish, even to the point of extinction, is very possible. The “science” used to respond to or solve major problems will not put the blame where it truly belongs, and so a non-native “hit list” is devised and the blame is placed on non-native species. In Alan Burdick’s book, “Out of Eden,” he says that scientists have traded real science for hysteria, and suggests that there is a lapse of ethics in certain decisions. This is something S. Dillon Ripley, who headed Smithsonian, suggested years ago.

We are the invaders. We are the non-natives. We are the destroyers and users driving species to the point of extinction. Something other than “removal programs” must be used to we not merely live with, but nurture the environment around us. Targeting non-harmful flora or fauna for removal based on “junk science” and whim cheats us as human beings.

Even the zebra mussel, which did a great job of cleaning up one of the terribly polluted Great Lakes, has a place in nature and should be nurtured and used for this purpose, not made extinct. Good science is possible. Good science can bring in the grants. Good science can assure a better solution for all living things and in this, we do hold dominion, as benefactors.

Stay alert!

E.L. Eidolon is a published author and former consumer magazine editor/publisher, who regularly writes material on the environment for newspapers, nationwide.

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