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Re-Introducing the Wild
Jamais Cascio, 18 Aug 05

elephant.jpgThirteen thousand years ago or so, North America was home to a variety of well-established species and one new one. The well-established species included relatives of modern elephants, lions, cheetahs and numerous other animals now found only in a few places in Africa and Asia; the new species was Homo sapiens. Unfortunately, when the new species met the old species, something had to give. Although paleontologists and archaeologists haven't pinpointed precisely why many of the North American megafauna died out, it looks highly like that humankind had no small role in their fate. These extinctions meant more than the disappearance of wild animals; they were massive disruptions to the continental ecosystem, the effects of which are still being felt.

Is it possible to correct a 13,000 year old mistake?

Josh Donlan thinks so. Donlan, at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, is the lead author on a paper in the latest issue of Nature entitled "Re-wilding North America" (subscriber-only, unfortunately), which argues that a range of megafauna once found (in somewhat ancestral form) in North America should be gradually re-introduced the American mid-western plains. Such animals include Bolson Tortoises, Bactrian Camels, wild horses of different types, Cheetah, African and Asian Elephants and, eventually, Lions. All roaming free over the American Great Plains.

The BBC and the Christian Science Monitor have good summaries of the arguments for those without access to Nature. Donlan and colleagues don't look at this as experimentation. Such a re-introduction would have enormous ecological value:

...these animals could fill long-vacant ecological niches here, [article co-author Dr. David] Burney and his colleagues argue. This could help prevent the Plains from degenerating into a "pest and weed" ecosystem. Instead, over time the grasslands involved could reach a level of ecological and evolutionary health not seen in the region since the end of the last ice age.Beyond conservationists' frustrations, the proposal also puts a focus on the plight of grassland ecosystems, notes M.A. Sanjayan, a lead scientist at the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Va. "Grassland conservation is maybe our top terrestrial priority," he says. "There's so little of it left because it tends to be agriculturally very productive."

Moreover, many of the candidate animals are under extreme environmental pressure in their current home ranges, and some -- like the Cheetah and the Elephants -- are not expected to survive the century. By bringing these species to the American plains, their chances of survival are dramatically increased. One important result would be a viable, diverse population able to act as parent to the future re-introduction or expansion of populations in Africa and Asia, once ecological conditions there improve.

Donlan, et al, acknowledge a number of challenges to the proposal. The public reaction would be extremely varied, with excitement about the idea of Elephants and Camels and the like roaming wild in the mid-west tempered by concerns over the danger of large predators hunting livestock (or, much less likely, people) along with more "natural" prey. It's difficult to gauge the extent of these concerns, but they are likely to be amenable to education. As this re-introduction would almost certainly bring in abundant tourism, residents in the areas impacted by the proposal are not likely to discount the potential economic benefits.

More troubling are arguments about whether the introduction of species that aren't identical to the locally extinct creatures is wise biologically. While some of the candidate animals are extremely close relatives, others -- such as the Bactrian camel -- are much more distant from their prehistoric analogues. In addition, allowing species that have lived for millennia only on other continents to roam wild in the American plains runs the risk of introducing non-native diseases. Donlan finds the second of the two points more of a concern, noting that previous species rehabilitation efforts (such as the Peregrine Falcon) have involved related but non-identical species from other regions, and that such efforts have by and large worked very well. As for the disease question, Donlan argues that this is one of the drivers for a slow re-introduction; smaller, captive populations could be observed closely over multiple generations, tested and re-tested, before eventually being released.

As startling as this proposal is, a North American "Pleistocene Park" would not be the first one, if it happens. Russia is well on its way to the re-introduction of animals in an ecosystem once dominated by Mammoth. While Elephants would not be part of this process, musk oxen initially and then Canadian bison would take on the role of the Mammoth; eventually Siberian Tigers would be imported to fill the predator niche. Interestingly, all of this would have a positive effect on the danger of melting permafrost.

Northern Siberia will influence the character of global climate change. If greenhouse gas-induced warming continues, the permafrost will melt. At present, the frozen soils lock up a vast store of organic carbon. [...] this carbon is the relatively labile product of plant roots that were incorporated from productive steppe vegetation during the Pleistocene. As soon as the ice melts and the soil thaws, microbes will begin converting this long-sequestered soil carbon into carbon dioxide under aerobic conditions or into methane under anaerobic conditions. The release of these gases will only exacerbate and accelerate the greenhouse effect.Preventing this scenario from happening could be facilitated by restoring Pleistocene-like conditions in which grasses and their root systems stabilize the soil. The albedo--or ability to reflect incoming sunlight skyward--of such ecosystems is high, so warming from solar radiation also is reduced. And with lots of herbivores present, much of the wintertime snow would be trampled, exposing the ground to colder temperatures that prevent ice from melting. All of this suggests that reconstructed grassland ecosystems, such as the ones we are working on in Pleistocene Park, could prevent permafrost from thawing and thereby mitigate some negative consequences of climate warming.

It's a dramatic vision. Although Elephants and Lions and Camels once roamed across the North American landscape, modern residents are accustomed to thinking of such creatures as exotic or "zoo" animals. But Donlan and his colleagues see the re-introduction as ecosystem restoration taken to a new level, as well as a bold effort to increase biodiversity. That such a re-introduction could also be one of the ways in which these threatened species are retained -- without resorting to "frozen zooz" or permanent captivity -- adds to the beauty of the idea.

Although the "Re-wilding" proposal is little more than an academic curiosity at present (at least in North America), it has a combination of innovation and hope that could allow it to capture the public imagination. A lawsuit-averse American public may end up rejecting the idea, but even the resulting discussion would raise issues of ecosystem management and human responsibility for the planet that aren't often heard. And who knows? Maybe at some point decades from now, people traveling cross-country may be excited to catch a glimpse of a herd of Elephants off in the distance, and thrill to the knowledge that Lions aren't just found in the zoo.

(Thanks to Joel Makower for the initial tip, and extra-special thanks to Dr. Garry Peterson for the links and resources.)

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Comments

Even if similar to the ancestral North American animnals, they would have bacteria, viruses and larger parasites and commensals which would be invasive species. They probably would not cause as much disruption, however, as the most harmful invasive species, Homo sapiens. This is a wonderful idea but is probably not practical, and certainly not without fencing in a huge area, at least hundreds of miles on a side.


Posted by: Gerald M. Levitis on 18 Aug 05

Well, don't know the total number of african-animal, private wildlife parks and other holdings in the USA, but I'd think the number 50 or more. Maybe several hundred. While generally their food is given, not naturally taken, they do tolerate the climate.

It seems to me that many - not likely all - of transported species could survive in the wild over here, and indeed the whole idea makes sense. As for "foreign species" causing unforeseen ecological damage, we're not talking Zebra Mussels, here. A population of lions or elephants can be shot out pretty damned quickly, so I think such an argument bogus. You'd want to make sure your selections were clean of dangerous infections and parasites, which could devastate livestock and wildlife populations, of course. But, this can be reliably done.

However. As the article states, lions eat people, and I must say that most of us would not appreciate that. Therefore, the entire new/old ecology must needs be triple-fenced. One fence for reality, another for security, a third for general paranoia. Suburbanites don't like to watch their dogs being eaten, you know. :D

I'd like to see it tried out on an experimental, and small, scale. I'd guess it would mostly work pretty well.


Posted by: itdincor on 18 Aug 05

http://www.smartmotorist.com/ani/ani.htm
"Each year there are approximately 500,000 deer/auto collisions resulting in over 100 deaths and thousands of injuries. Each deer/auto collisions cost the auto insurance industry about $2,000 according to the Insurance Information Institute. The recent explosion in the deer population has lead to a dramatic increase in deer/car collisions. In the 1980's the deer population was approximately 10 million. Today, there are more than 25 million."

I'm all for bringing back the big predators. I'd rather be eaten by a lion than die with a big deer hoof through my chest.

Also, fences are kinda a silly idea. We are talking about vast, almost empty grasslands in the midwest. It would be cheaper to track 1000 lions individually than it it would to put a fence around their entire habitat.

If worst comes to worst, get the lions soylent green t-shirts.


Posted by: Jon S. on 18 Aug 05

Id rather live forever but thats just me;/

We used to live where mountain lions tended to roam. Nothing says GAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! quite so well as walking around a corner and comming face to face with a realy realy big cat. And yes that happened to me. I made a noise like an entire crowd of sherly temple impersonators being run over by a fleet of street sweepers. Lucky for me mountain lions spook easy or id not be here to annoy you all today.


Posted by: wintermane on 19 Aug 05

This idea has a certain wacky appeal -- returning North America to some kind of primeval Eden, complete with lions and camels! Cue the Land of the Lost theme.

But unlike many of the Viridian or Worldchanging end-runs around common wisdom, this is an instance where overlooking means undercuts ends. Humans are displacing large animals from native habitats so they can farm and build, plain and simple. And a lot of mini- and micro-critters, and plant species, are suffering for it too. This idea is the wildlife conservation equivalent of a quick fix, because ultimately, keeping those native habitats wild and biodiverse is just as important for human health and prosperity as it is for the survival of the lions, tigers, and elephants.


Posted by: Emily Gertz on 19 Aug 05

African conservationists, intellectuals and ecologists have already reacted: they find this a typical "neo-colonial" Anglosaxon idea.

See this link: African conservationists denounce proposal for giant US wildlife park.

I must say I agree with them for several reasons.

1. African megafauna are part of Africa's cultural and natural heritage; you can't just keep on stealing people's heritage, that's what colonialists have been doing for hundreds of years. It must end.

2. If the Americans in question are so concerned about conservation, why don't they help Africa's own efforts?

3. The idea fits into an agenda (masked by ecological discourse) where everything on this planet can be moved and sold, like commodities. Now landscapes, ecologies and even mythical images become commodified. This Anglosaxon way of looking at things is disastrous. It must be resisted at all costs.

4. The colonialist attitudes of the Anglosaxons consists of implicitely suggesting that Africa can't deal with conserving its own wildlife. While in fact, it is the only place that has a decent amount of it left, which contradicts the colonialist's argument. (The scientists of Cornell say: "Africa is our only hope for mega-fauna. How terrible."

5. It's also a typical Anglosaxon money-grab; sure the plan will create jobs and bring in tourist cash, but it will also take away jobs and tourist cash from Africa.

In short, on cultural, social, economic, philosophical and ethical grounds, the idea should be rejected. That's my personal opinion.


Posted by: Lorenzo on 19 Aug 05

Of course we'll never replace the extinct species of the Pleistocene, but there are pretty large predator and prey species natural in North America. They include Moose, Bison, Pronghorn Antelope, Grey Wolves, Grizzly Bears, Cougars and Mountain Lions, among others. All of these used to have wider ranges and larger populations. Why not start there?


Posted by: David Foley on 19 Aug 05

The proposal doesn't call for removing animals from Africa, but using animals already here, in zoos and wild game parks.

Where I live, in Ottawa, Ontario, there are as many deer as people. Cougars are now showing up, something not seen here for 100 years. Whether they migrated from somwhere, have been existing in low numbers for years but are now reproducing rapidly to match the deer population, or were introduced from freed 'pets' is unclear, but we do now have cougars within a few miles of where I am now.


Posted by: Michael Slavitch on 19 Aug 05

The lions and elephants of Africa were there (and in North America) long before humans came onto the scene. They're certainly a part of African culture, but to call them "heritage" and attempts to introduce them to North America "colonialism" seems to imply that humans (nay, particular groups of humans) own the species. That just doesn't work.


Posted by: Jane Shevtsov on 19 Aug 05

No it does not mean that particular groups of humans own these species. It means that there's such a thing as the integrity of an ecosystem.

If you want to package, send and sell these animals which belong to a very specific ecosystem, you are the one who's using the notions of commodification and ownership, under the guise of conservationism.

The scheme is reductionist and leaves too many factors out of the equation.


Posted by: Lorenzo on 19 Aug 05

This reminds me of something that happened back during 9/11. While chatting about the possible nasty things that could happen in the future the conversation all of a sudden turned to pets and the rather funny/dark humor question.. oks if you all die can I have your cat?

We realy want to make sure if you all die we can keep the cute animals going well enough.. we cant handle it all but we can at least handle some of it. We can at least give fluffy a home. After all while we like you we love fluffy.


Posted by: wintermane on 19 Aug 05

I'd hate to see African mega-fauna become mythological, period.


Posted by: Jon S. on 19 Aug 05

Lorenzo, I find "ecosystem integrity" a much more persuasive argument than the "heritage" and "colonialist" assertions. The latter are not well-grounded historically (most North American megafauna extinctions happened prior to European arrival), nor do they reflect the current danger that many species face from habitat loss and hunting in the less-stable parts of Africa. The time it will require to help the nations in most need to get back on their feet will certainly exceed the time that these animals have left in the wild.

I think the re-wilding idea has potential merit, if done with a great deal of caution, but primarily as a way of understanding how to transplant ecosystems. As the planet warms, we will be confronted by animals facing drastic population losses because their environments have changed dramatically; our options at that point will be to watch them die off, to take the zoos & zooz approach, or to figure out ways to transplant them into more hospitible wild settings.


Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 19 Aug 05

Another great article about this topic is in the Economist, right here.


Posted by: chris@organicmatter on 19 Aug 05

You would also have to introduce the antelope,zebres, etc. that are the natural prey of the big cats. The American humanoids would then wipe them out in short order, and the big cats would starve. DW


Posted by: David Wilcox on 19 Aug 05

Actually, one of the objections to reintroducing wolves is that they cut way back on the deer and antelope available for hunters to kill. (Boo f$%^ing hoo.)

In other words, the prey are already there, in some cases in numbers larger than can be healthily sustained. They wouldn't need to be the same prey animals. American deer and wild horses and antelope have all the meaty goodness a lion would need to survive.


Posted by: Stefan Jones on 19 Aug 05

I agree with Jamais. Ecosystem integrity is a much greater concern than colonialism in this situation, but ecosystem integrity is also a reason for going ahead (carefully). Ten thousand years isn't that long in ecological time and it's absolutely nothing in evolutionary time. Megafauna seems to have been important to the ecosystems of North America in the past. For example, some plant fruits and defenses only make sense in the context of large herbivores. The pronghorn's speed makes sense only in the context of cheetahs. This proposal is, above all, about restoration. Conserving African wildlife is a bonus, but it's not the real point.


Posted by: Jane Shevtsov on 19 Aug 05

We are all looking for a managed ecosystem or ecosystem integrity. I too don't want humans taking over and I am sick of the Borg like impulse by Humans to build grid-like uncreative subdivisions over all parts of the land instead of using the human ability to integrate structures as a compliment. I live in the suburbs and it's too much. Humans are the leader of the ecosystem because they can/should manage it effectively.

“”Of course we'll never replace the extinct species of the Pleistocene, but there are pretty large predator and prey species natural in North America. They include Moose, Bison, Pronghorn Antelope, Grey Wolves, Grizzly Bears, Cougars and Mountain Lions, among others. All of these used to have wider ranges and larger populations. Why not start there? “'

Bioengineering and genetic engineering will play a huge role in this if not now.
http://www.savingsandclone.com/
I agree that we should start with the basics and I don't want bland dinosaurs unless people want to go back to Dungeons and Dragons era. Maybe for another planet.

“”I agree with Jamais. Ecosystem integrity is a much greater concern than colonialism in this situation, but ecosystem integrity is also a reason for going ahead (carefully). Ten thousand years isn't that long in ecological time and it's absolutely nothing in evolutionary time. Megafauna seems to have been important to the ecosystems of North America in the past. For example, some plant fruits and defenses only make sense in the context of large herbivores. The pronghorn's speed makes sense only in the context of cheetahs. This proposal is, above all, about restoration. Conserving African wildlife is a bonus, but it's not the real point. “”

If Megafauna is 'Native' to us then we should put it in but not as a carnival attraction although that could be a selling point for economy.


Posted by: Rich on 20 Aug 05

Having backpacked and hunted in the Canadian Rockies all my life I have always toyed with the idea of Siberian snow tigers being introduced there. There is no shortage of game available. Deer and elk abound in great numbers.Too great many would say.
People are for the most part absent.City folks (some) would really have a wilderness experience when one of these 600lb cats walked into their camp.I can see it now..screams yells and finally the sounds of bones crunching. I love it!


Posted by: fiji jim on 20 Aug 05

13,000 years ago? How can we be certain? Is it verifiable?

The Bible tells of the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the rightful Messiah. This is verifiable via history and Scripture including Old Testament Prophecy.

If this is verifiable to intelligent people, doesn't that include credibility for divine creation? If so, it blows 13,000 years away but not the inference that mankind is to manage the earth.

If we can't get what is verifiable straight, shouldn't we question the unverifiable?


Posted by: Carl - MN on 20 Aug 05

lion, tigers, bears oh my, will make great border guards along the southwest. jump the fence and get eaten.

oh, by the way, religion is fake. man made to give illiterate, poverty stricken, and diseased filled people a little hope that tomorrow will be better.

www.thesuperstar.org


Posted by: thesuperstar on 20 Aug 05

"...invasive species, Homo sapiens..."

I wasn't aware that we came from another planet.


I agree with Rich's suggestion that we proceed with the megafauna that are already present here.

There have been thousands of incidents of non-native species displacing native ones with unhealthy results, English sparrows decimating bluebird populations, for instance. When more non-native species were introduced as predators, they usually found native animals or flora more to their liking and did further harm. This proposed project - we are like children playing with matches.


Posted by: Dianne on 20 Aug 05

Sorry about the genetic engineering comment but the government already genetically engineers the food that we eat.

Genesis 9:1
Genesis 2:19

I think we can manage the ecosystem to a point. Obviously we don't want to 'play God.'

Not playing God would be to blend with the ecosystem he has given us and not roll it over brainlessly.


Posted by: Rich on 20 Aug 05

And then there was the Christian input. The Bible is not verifiable and to be honest with you, I have a much easier time believing someone telling me that there were elephants here 13,000 years ago than someone with "your" views telling me that some mystical mortal was God's only Son. If I was going to be eaten by something, I would much rather it be a lion than a wolverine if only for the speed in which it would happen.


Posted by: Greg on 20 Aug 05

"oh, by the way, religion is fake. man made to give illiterate, poverty stricken, and diseased filled people a little hope that tomorrow will be better."

This person has obviously never taken a basic rhetoric class. If so they would realize how full of falacies their argument really is.

As far as the introduction of "exotic" species to the North American ecosystem. It is amazing how humans have become so conceited that we don't only think that we destroy the environment; we also think we can fix it. We do not give nature enough credit to fix itself. Remember the words of the mathmatician in Jurassic Park, "Life will find a way". And it will every time.


Posted by: Nathan on 20 Aug 05

To Jamais and Jane, even though the idea does have merit, I wanted to add that to me the notion of "ecosystem integrity" includes culture and history. "Conservation" and "restoration" are typically late-modern, Western ideas, which is ok, and if they become universal, that's even better.

But let's see who has the luxury to be able to afford to spend a lot of money on writing studies about restoration, and on actually conserving and protecting their environments: exactly, it's the same people (Europeans and Americans) who destroyed ecosystems wherever they went in the first place.

Historically speaking, they have sucked up all the sources of added value and profit through their empires, which they can now spend on such things as restoring their own environments.

I was particularly furious when I read the Cornell people vaguely suggesting that "our hopes should not rest on Africa alone". Indeed, I imagine a future where Africa gets another round of slapping, with Western environmentalists telling Africans to conserve and protect their environments, which they have to destroy in order to survive... Another round of imperial arrogance...

So I just think the idea of "restoration" needs a cultural and historic component. Even when you're merely talking about restoring ecosystems.
Let's start by paying back those whose ecosystems were destroyed and whose cultures displaced and wrecked.

If we don't do this, we end up with the remaining African ecosystems completely destroyed, and a virtual, displaced, copy of it in the US.

Prioritize and send the money to those places where you can really save a piece of "pristine" ecosystem. Now that we still can.


Posted by: Lorenzo on 20 Aug 05

I normally wouldn't respond to the many articles I read online, but this one I couldn't leave alone. This kind of thinking is delusional if not insanity on the part of someone that has nothing better to do than waste perfectly good space on the internet with such an illusional state of mind. Imagine the open plains with lions running around and the local news papers' headline reads, "Yound Child Eaten by Lion" Give me a break and post something that makes more sense than some childish fantasy of "Lions, Tigers, and Bears....oh My"


Posted by: Chet Bowen on 20 Aug 05

The only valid obections I can see to the plan are those involving the safety of human lives. We already see wildlife/human interaction increasing with bad results for both as we expand into habitats previously only inhabited by nomads a few centuries back, if at all. As for the political arguments, I'm sorry to sound like I'm flaming, but they're ridiculous. To call America a culture thief is pretty amusing, as we are a melting pot, not by going and getting culture (as the romans did), but by letting it come to us through immigration. To say that we can help Africa, and then state how destructive European and American societies have been to their respective environments displays an inherent and facile contradiction. The reason Europe and America can now look to conservation and restoration is because we largely dominate our respective ecosystems, we no longer struggle for survival with mother nature, with certain extreme exceptions of course, but with our fellow humans instead. In Africa however, education, legislation, and enforcement, regardless of the amount of money used, have failed. They have failed because you cannot tell a struggling villager with a starving family that those pretty animals deserve to live more than his children. It doesn't work. The fact is, Homo Sapiens does not naturally balance himself with his environment because we love not only our own life too much, but the lives of our species in general. Like the arts, culture, and advanced learning, we can only balance our world in societies that have achieved enough success to have the leisure time for such activities.


Posted by: The Finn on 20 Aug 05

Excuse me, but shouldn't we also reintroduce stone age man to this enviroment? All these ancient animals competed with primative man. The secret to success would be to cull the tribe from time to time and make sure they didn't practice innovation, you know like metalurgy and such. That is after all where you tree huggers messed up isn't it. If our ancesters would have just stayed in the trees the world would be such a better place. Isn't that how it goes? So what happens when some innovative person actually clones a dinosaur? That would really be great because you wouldn't need to introduce primative man. Gee what a world you could recreate then! I'm sorry but there are some folks out there, including myself, with some pretty silly ideas. There's too much time on our hands I suppose. Anybody for feeding the poor? I wonder what T-Rex steaks taste like?


Posted by: Richard Leach on 20 Aug 05

I would pay anything to try a T-Rex steak! Can someone actually start working on that idea please? I think Richard has a great idea. Let's simply begin dumming down the population and maybe we can revert back to the intelligence levels present in the western hemisphere 13,000 years ago. Wait. I think there is an experiment going on like that right now called the "public school system". Sorry.


Posted by: Greg on 20 Aug 05

I am worried that certain important issues have not been adequately addressed in the discussion above - issues that must be understood by society at large to ensure our policy makers can make informed discussions about land use and wildlife management; consider the following, keep your mind open to questions it might raise, and then try to answer those questions by checking a variety of reputable, scholarly sources and gaining first-hand knowledge of FACTS. It is important to avoid accusations, disdain, and other demonstrations of intolerance or closed-mindedness, as this is a primary barrier to objectivity and truth. (Heresay and sensationalism are also to be avoided in the interest of maintaining the clear and honest dissemination of information.)
------------------------------------

The ecological state of North America has only been known first-hand for roughly five hundred years - the fact that North American species interacted in intricate ways was only well understood in the last century, and even now, no organization or individual knows everything about the millions of pathways along which current species interact. There are hundreds of well-documented examples of how acting as if we did understand ended with radical and surprising results; in most of those cases, the 'original' state of the system was never restored. (Most notable of these examples are the histories of the National Parks and various attemps by 'naturalists' or 'ecologists' to control the ecological state of a region. Look it up, you'll be as surprised as the 'naturalists' were.)

The array of species in existence 13,000 years ago is known mainly from digging up their bones. Did people kill them? Yes, people probably helped. Does digging up their bones give us enough information to predict how re-introducing these species will affect the present ecological state? Hell no! Bones offer a lot of clues, believe it or not, on how the animals used to behave, but they don't tell the WHOLE story - not by a long shot. And even if it did, it would only apply to the ecosystem as it was then, and would do little to describe the ecosystem in place now.

Above all, it seems like we are forgetting here that H.s. sapiens is also a part of the ecosystem, and humans developed right alongside all the species now extinct because of our unbridled success. Animals come into existence, and they go back out; some survive for a long time, some don't. Some develop camouflage or wings or running speeds over 60 mph, others develop cell phones and shotguns. Understanding the ecosystem is not important because we're worried we might kill it; it's important because we're worried we might change it enough that it won't support us anymore. No matter what we do by moving animals around and watching what havoc they spread in their new playgrounds, there will be species that adapt and survive, and species that fail and perish. The most important thing is to be sure that messing around with the ecosystem won't set H.s. sapiens up for extinction.

~(don't spam me.)fiftylightyearsagallon@gmail.com


Posted by: Jean-Claude L'élève on 20 Aug 05

Why not introduce all these animals nearer to the nuts advocating the idea, let them be the ones trying to live with mankillers, the east coast would be just right, maybe farther north on the coast would bne even better


Posted by: Bill Robinson on 20 Aug 05

The idea of teleology is that there is grand design to nature. Similar to the christian idea that God has a plan for you, but in reality things only turn out the way they do because of the set of circumstances available. A species like homo sapiens is probably the only one capable of nurturing or destroying nature. It might be everyone's responsibility to teach our children to respect nature in the first place.


Posted by: Lester on 20 Aug 05

I think the Africans "colonialists" arguments are dumb. And Africa does not look like it's going to get it's act together anytime soon; just look at the downward spiral of Zimbabwe. The only road-block I see to this idea (and it's a big one) is human safety.

But step back a moment. The development of the medical profession has almost stopped the process of Natural Selection in the human species. Therefore, we must take responsibility for cleaning up our own gene pool though some form of genetic engineering, or we're toast.

Likewise, wherever man gets involved in an ecosystem, he will end up managing it. There is no way around it. We impact everything we touch to the point of needing to manage it. So we had better take responsibility for our messes and figure out how to manage it well. Or, again, we're toast.

As well, the effects of globalization are not merely the world-wide equalization of economic forces, they are also the world-wide transplantation of species, of diseases, of polution, of human culture, and the world-wide equalization of human legal systems and human rights. We have a lot of really big things that need managing; call them insurmountable opportunities.

So don't just sit there reading this drivel, dive in!


Posted by: Craig on 21 Aug 05

A very nice headline, but this will never happen. Totally ill-concieved, introduction of foreign species has been a bad idea everywhere it has been tried. If this goes anywhere beyond the dream stage, political opposition will kill it. If you think opposition to wolf introduction was bad, try lions!


Posted by: J. Saxton on 21 Aug 05

Reintroducing large game that has been removed by man's influence is nothing more than our responsibility as stuards of this planet. As the only species with the mental capacity to protect and recreate the enviornment, we should, and it also gives us a purpose as a society. We as a modern society have no purpose,other than self gain,and recreating the enviornment gives us a goal that is obtainable. There is no doubt that man played a direct role in the destruction of extinct megafauna, as is evidenced by the current eradication everywhere. If we can't resurrect extict species than replacing them with extant relatives may be the only way to bring a balance back to the N. American continent


Posted by: Lincoln Tyler on 21 Aug 05

I think it would be fascinating to do a few test cases and see how those go. It's probably not the best idea to just release them immediately into the wild here, though. Of course, it would need to be done very carefully as well.


Posted by: Lake McManus on 21 Aug 05

Large game on the plains? Haven't we (US gov) been rounding up wild mustangs from the plains and sending them to slaughter? What about the re-introduction of wolves that has meet with a lot of trouble?


Posted by: Andrea on 22 Aug 05

you fools. it is obvious what this is all about. al qaeda has planned this movement of animals. once they are here in the states they will just eat us all up. the only way to combat this idea is for us to send new york city taxi drivers to the mid-east to run over the terrorists. i am going to do a scientific paper about this so i can then be published.


Posted by: peter franklin on 22 Aug 05



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