Bad birds

Subject: Bad birds
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000 11:30:54 +1000
Hi everybody -

I am afraid that the argument for purist non-interventionism in
environmental management is, in most cases, well and truly lost.  That is,
if what you are trying to conserve is global biodiversity.  (Forget local
biodiversity; when ship rats were accidentally introduced to Lord Howe
Island early this century they - very briefly - increased local biodiversity).

I am not in favour of approaches to the problem that see particular species
as being 'good' or 'bad'.  Ad hoc persecution of Mynas, stray cats or Cane
Toads will accomplish nothing beyond a vicarious feeling of virtue through
a suspension of respect towards some organisms by making them environmental
villains.  However, many introduced species do threaten global
biodiversity, the Common Myna in Australia being one of them, and we can
either sit back and document the effects in despair or aesthetic aloofness,
or we can try and do something about it.  I am on the side of the
interventionists.  I commend Chris Tidemann's website (URL posted to
Birding-Aus by Martin O'Brien today) as an attempt to deal with the problem

The division between 'good' natives and 'bad' introductions is also too
simplistic.  What about the Silver Gulls which have virtually wiped out the
Banded Stilt breeding colony on Lake Eyre?  If Silver Gull population has
grown enormously with human changes to the environment, do you say that,
because it is a native species, you should not intervene, even if it
threatens another native species?  Again, I am with the interventionists.
What is important is that you have, or plan to acquire, enough knowledge
about the biology of the organisms in question and their effects on the
environment to draw up an effective management strategy.

So what does one do with regard to management / control / elimination of
species which, because of human culture / technology / population growth
pose some threat (which may be local or restricted) to global biodiversity?
 Do you:

Do nothing at all?  I think this is morally unsound and an abnegation of

Run over Cane Toads on the road and think "take that, you evil bastard!"?
Maybe personally satisfying but otherwise completely pointless.

Or -

Support, lobby for and work towards the conservation of our biological
heritage (including ultrataxa and ecosystems) through a program of
acquiring knowledge, planning strategies, arousing public and political
awareness, and implementation of active conservation management?

My rave for the day.

Hugo Phillipps
Communications Coordinator
Birds Australia
415 Riversdale Road
HAWTHORN EAST 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
Email: <>
Web site: <>

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