the challenges of introduced species

The introduction of non-native species to regions and islands, and the ongoing implications of these, are a legacy of human chauvinism. Our ideological arrogance continues to shape decisions and forms of (strategic) ignorance will have long-lasting implications based on the actions we take today. Apparently we have learned, and continue to learn, little.

The Australian government has funded a program seeking to address the introduction of non-native species to Macquarie Island, which is located half way between Tasmania and Antarctica (see video). The hundred thousand or more rabbits, in particular, are having a devastating effect on the islands ecosystems. Past attempts at management or control of the population have included introducing debilitating and painful disease into the population, paralleling similar approaches on the Australian mainland.

The main aspect of the current approach, whilst arguably incorporates an acceptance that human folly is the source of the current ecological challenges, similarly disregards the rabbits in question. They are, in essence, being blamed (as is normative for most species) for some something we have led to. The first stage of the new program is poison baits. The baiting is timed to minimise ‘collateral damage’ (their term), and it is accepted that native populations may be impacted by this for up to 50 years. Subsequent stages involve trained dogs to locate the rabbits, gassing burrows and hunters shooting others.

In a society in which we can seemingly develop vaccines and other medical technologies, could we not develop a means of chemical sterilisation for the species? As a least harm approach, could this not be undertaken rather than the use of poison?? Those already born would live out their existence, with the population decreasing over a short period of time. There certainly will be implications of such an approach.

By way of exposing the hypocrisy of the current approach, are we considering poison-baiting humans given the dramatic ecological impact we are having as a species?? After all, the vast majority (perhaps all) of the ecological problems that exist today and human induced…

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