INVASIVES IF HUMANIACS HAD THEIR WAY
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2000:
WASHINGTON D.C.– – The 32-member Invasive Species Advisory Committee appointed in January 2000 by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt may have excluded humane representatives because Invasive Species Council members Babbitt, Commerce Secretary William Daley, and Agriculture Secretary Daniel Glickman feared that concern for preventing animal suffering might interfere with their mandate to kill all ferals.
Prevailing belief among mainstream conservation biologists and wildlife managers is that if socalled “humaniacs” had their way, the whole of North American would be overrun by even more feral species than it has now in no time.
But a look at actual species introductions tells a different story. Most would never have come if hunting, meat-eating, animalfighting, vivisection, and other cruel practices had been adequately proscribed by public policy.
• South Carolina in February 2000 joined the growing number of states which have legalized ferretkeeping. California is apparently the last major holdout. The American Ferret Association estimates that there are now about 12 million domesticated ferrets in the U.S. Many humane organizations have supported the legalization bills, not wanting to have to kill all the ferrets brought to shelters. However, ferrets were brought to the U.S. in the first place as a hunting animal, over strong humane opposition, and the Humane Society of the U.S. and PETA continued to campaign against legalizing ferrets until under five years ago.
• The Laie Community Association, of Laie, Hawaii, has offered prizes to the local Boy Scout troops who capture the most feral chickens. The abundant local chickens are descended from escaped fighting cocks and breeder hens.
• Giant African snails, transported around the world for introduction to French colonies as a food source, became intermediate hosts for a parasitic worm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The worm now infests the Norway rats of New Orleans, recently killed animals at the Audubon Park Zoo and the Zoo of Acadiana in Lafayette, and in 1995 made a boy seriously ill when he ate a snail on a dare.
• T h r e e – f o o t – l o n g A s i a n swamp eels originating from several different parts of China and Southeast Asia have appeared in many parts of Georgia and Florida, most recently within half a mile of the Everglades. They appear to have been stocked deliberately by people who like to eat them.
• The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in April 2000 banned the use of goldfish, koi, comets, and common carp as bait. Native to Asia, all are now common in U.S. waters. The Eurasian goldfish now occurs in 42 states.
• University of Wyoming at Laramie fish ecologist Frank J. Rahel reports that 89 pairs of states which had no fish species in common when fish stocks were first inventoried now share an average of more than 25 species––most of them introduced for sport fishing.
• University of Rhode Island professor Tom Husband is reportedly investigating the likelihood that the native New England cottontail rabbit has become scarce by losing in breeding competition to the now much more common eastern cottontail. Rhode Island officials introduced 8,200 eastern cottontails in 1935 in an attempt to improve the local rabbit hunting.
• Mark Musaus, new manager of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Florida, wants to open more of the refuge to alligator and feral pig hunters. Killing alligators would remove the major pig predator. Pigs arrived in the area with Spanish explorers nearly 500 years ago, but became allegedly overabundant only in the mid-20th century, after alligators were hunted to the verge of endangerment. The alligator population has since recovered. Hunters meanwhile live-trapped some of the pigs, beginning in the 1920s, and introduced them to many other parts of the U.S. as a target species.
• Staff at Channel Islands National Park spent March and April 2000 trying to keep hungry golden eagles from devouring endangered island foxes. The eagles became abundant by feasting on the carrion left as the National Park Service, Nature Conservancy, and Animal Damage Control d.b.a. USDA Wildlife Services spent more than 20 years trying to kill off feral pigs, rats, goats, sheep, cattle, and horses. Most of those animals are finally dead––although on some of the islands the eagles are apparently still finding more pigs and rats than the human exterminators.
• Alberta, long reputedly rat-free through a determined ongoing extermination effort, may have gained a rat population at the Calgary landfill on February 15 when a University of Calgary Health Sciences Centre employee mistakenly tossed 11 sealed cardboard crates containing mature male and female rats, their pups, and 150 white mice into a dumpster.
• A snagged net allowed 30,000 Atlantic salmon to escape into the Pacific Ocean from Stolt Sea Farms on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island in September 1999. Atlantic salmon are already often found in the vicinity, and are believed to be contributing to weakening the gene pools and populations of native salmon runs.