The Purpose of Invasive Species
On a recent raft trip down a Montana River, a glimmer of reality peeked out for a moment. The riders were scientists attending a conference and the guide was a fishery graduate student from a Montana University. The guide explained about the “non-native” brook trout and rainbow trout that were “crowding out” the “native fish.” This occurred as the raft went by fisherman after fisherman fly-fishing for those very “non-native” trout. When one of the scientists asked what date was used to fix when something was “native” (and after which new arrivals were “non-native), the guide replied, “We like to think of the date of the Lewis and Clark expedition as that date.”
Here on the East coast, the date most often given as the “native ecosystem” ideal is 1492 AD. In the southwest and on the west coast, the arrival of Spanish explorers and Franciscan missionaries is the date when some sort of mystical mix of plants and animals is fixed as the “natives” of that region. Plants and animals brought from other parts of North America or from other continents after those dates are now being touted as “non-native” and somehow, mysteriously out-of-place. Based on this native worship philosophy disguised as environmental quackery, Americans are being told that thousands of plants and animals should be eradicated because they are “out of place” (i.e., “non-native”).
A partial list of the proposed environmental cleansing (brought to us by the same people who sold us Endangered Species by the way) would include:
Sika deer; brown trout; armadillos; Virginia creeper; most sparrows; pheasants; cattle egrets; wild hogs; European boars; chukars; Hungarian partridge; rainbow trout, walleyes, and muskies throughout the South; Largemouth bass in the western US; striped bass in the West; and on and on ad infinitum.
The costs of eradicating any of these would be astronomical. Many folks, like me, would think the United States a much poorer place without these species in abundance. To create a US without them would be a catastrophe. When we protest that state and local control of certifiable (i.e. provable) harmful species works well, Invasive Species advocates dismiss us and clamor for more laws and tax money like Endangered Species history has proven to be so good for their growing power and harmful to the rest of us.
But you know all this. What about those dates? You know Lewis & Clark, 1492, the Conquistadors; what do they all have in common? Right! They were the arrival dates of the Europeans. Unlike the arrival of Asians 9,000-10,000 years before, there is something different about the arrival of the Europeans. While the Asians (today’s American “Indians” or Native Americans) brought dogs and seeds and fire and thousands of things from hunting methods to farming practices and wars that drastically altered the environment, species mix, and distributions of species, for some reason their date of arrival does not carry the import of the Europeans’ arrival dates. So what is the difference?
The Europeans brought advanced civilization. They brought Christianity. They brought different farming methods and animal husbandry. They brought science and mathematics. They brought organization and political history that gave birth to the greatest nation on earth. They brought equality and a melding of different religions, cultures, and ethnic groups unknown throughout the history of man. They brought ideas that led to a Constitution born in a fierce war of rebellion that is the envy of the world 200+ years later. They brought values and willing commitments that even today are recognized as useful to oppressed people from Nazi Germany to Iraq, Bosnia, etc. Yet, their arrival date throughout America is used as a date when environmental plunder and pillage began? The highest living standard in the world is cause for reversing one of the most pleasing and productive natural environments known to man? What is wrong with this picture?
There is nothing wrong with this picture. It is accurate in all regards. The Invasive Species advocates (politicians, bureaucrats, professors, and the radical groups partnering with them) really want to eliminate what makes this country great. From property rights to hunting, logging, farming, ranching, trapping, animal ownership and use, human recreation, rural living, and all the things that distinguish us from China and Zimbabwe to Britain and Germany, they want to change our way of life and our relation to government. Government will no longer answer to us; they intend to make it the other way around.
Resource use, animal use, sustainable management of resources, the use of private property, and the availability of public property held by government will all be denied Americans in the name of an all powerful government dictating what is “best” whether we like it or not. Invasive Species legislation, just like Endangered Species legislation, is intended to do just that.
Remember those dates the next time a professor goes off or some politician or bureaucrat or radical outfit starts trumpeting why you need to give them more money and authority to “handle” Invasive Species. Just tell them you are proud of the US just like it is and if they want to live where there are no Invasive Species, try Afghanistan or Rwanda. I’ll bet the environment there would be much more “native” and much more to their liking.