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Scientists Gone Wild

Old 08-19-2005, 07:46 PM
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Default Scientists Gone Wild

Scientists Gone Wild

Scientists Gone Wild


Lions, Camels and Elephants, Oh My! Wild Kingdom Proposed for U.S.

By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 17 August 2005

Cheetahs, lions, camels and elephants would roam wild in the United States under a new proposal to re-introduce large animals similar to those that humans hunted to extinction long ago.

The U.S. Ecological History Park, as it is billed by scientists, would help preserve species that are under increasing pressure for survival in Africa. It would also recreate a more balanced predator-prey relationship in the Great Plains and Southwest, an ecological diversity that has been absent for more than 10,000 years thanks at least in part to hunting pressure.

The idea, similar to one already underway in Siberia, is laid out in the Aug. 18 issue of the journal Nature by a dozen ecologists and conservationists at 10 universities and institutions.

The park, where large and sometimes dangerous predators would roam free, could be an economic boon to depressed farming regions that humans are fleeing from anyway.

The scientists would like to start now, using large tracts of private land, and expand the effort through the century.

"If we only have 10 minutes to present this idea, people think we're nuts," admits Harry Greene, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University. "But if people hear the one-hour version, they realize they haven't thought about this as much as we have. Right now, we are investing all of our megafauna hopes on one continent -- Africa."

Better than rats

One justification for "rewilding," as the scientists call it, is that one way or another, we humans have a dramatic effect on the animal kingdom and ecology in general, so a proactive approach is better than letting the world go to the dogs. Or, in this case, to the rats.

In the absence of elephants and large predators, which together stomp the ground and keep other animals on the run, landscapes will come to be dominated by dandelions, rats and other undesirables, the scientists write.

Large predators can be "keystone species" that are crucial to shaping the flora and fauna of an entire range.

A modern example is the widespread disappearance of wolves and grizzly bears in parts of the West, again at the hands of humans. Elk populations soared. Elk eat willows, which beavers rely on, and so beaver populations in Colorado declined by up to 90 percent, the authors state. Fewer beavers meant fewer dams, and the reduced wetlands caused willow populations to decline 60 percent in some areas.

The paper’s lead author is Cornell graduate student Josh Donlan.

"Humans will continue to change ecosystems, cause extinctions, and affect the very future of evolution -- either by default or design," Donlan told LiveScience. "The default scenario will surely include ever more pests and weed-dominated landscapes and the extinction of most large vertebrates."

Cheetahs, woolly mammoths and relatives of the camel were just a few of the large mammals that roamed America during the Pleistocene era, which ended 10,000 years ago as the last Ice Age retreated. Studies have shown that their demise was due largely to hunting by humans, not from climate change as one theory held.

Their absence has altered the biodiversity of the continent and potentially the evolution of other animals. Large prey such the antelope-like pronghorn of the Southwest evolved lightning speed over millions of years to escape cheetahs, for example.

Start now

The park would actually involve multiple locations and phases of introduction, beginning immediately.

One first step would be to import endangered camels from the Gobi desert to the American Southwest, where they might gobble woody plants that now rule some landscapes.

Small numbers of African cheetahs and elephants from Asia and Africa could immediately be introduced on private property in the United States. The endangered cheetahs are close relatives to cats that roamed prehistoric America. Elephants are related to mammoths.

The elephants could bring economic benefit by their natural ability to manage grasslands and the potential for ecotourism, the scientists say.

Financial benefit is a key to the whole plan, in fact. The researchers cite the more than 1.5 million annual visitors to the semi-wild San Diego Zoo as an example of the draw that might be expected in a Pleistocene Park.

The scientists realize they have an uphill battle to gain public support. The controversy surrounding the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park shows the "clear obstacles" faced by any rewilding effort, Donlan said.

"Obviously, gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators," Donlan said. "There are going to have to be some major attitude shifts. That includes realizing predation is a natural role, and that people are going to have to take precautions."

NOW MY 2 cents worth. If we are going to loose our mind why not all the way.

First why not bring in large predators back to the Northeast and Southern United States help out with the large deer number?

Why not bring the Mountain Lion, Black Bear, Grizzly and Wolf back to their home range?

Well you can't even bring Wolf back to Yellowstone without the world press not blasting it.

Missouri Farm Bureau was won't even allow wild ELK into Missouri.

Now we are going to bring in Elephants to the southwest, just think what that will do to a truck, crops and etc.

Plus all an elephant is a gloried PIG, most states are trying to get rid of them with open season.

This is the first I have heard of an over population of Pronghorn. Could someone fill me in on that?

I am all for grizzly, browns, black bear, wolves, mountain lions to be re-introduced if and only if limited hunting is allow to also managed their population.

Let Africa, and Asia take care of their animals in their habitat and let us take care of ours.

Of course this is my humble opinion what is yours?
horntagger is offline  
Old 08-19-2005, 09:20 PM
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Default RE: Scientists Gone Wild

"Pleistocene Park". Wait till Speilberg hears about this.

Just goes to show that book learnin' and common sense don't always go hand in hand.
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Old 08-20-2005, 03:30 AM
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Default RE: Scientists Gone Wild

And you thought the farmers were mad when the wolf was reintroduced - just wait till the lions get here.....
Eagleone is offline  
Old 08-20-2005, 09:18 AM
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What? I normally have respect for most scientists,but this is absurd.
Morty3 is offline  
Old 08-20-2005, 09:31 AM
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Default RE: Scientists Gone Wild

Amazing, isn't it? First, these so-called scientists and 'environmentalists' bemoan the (mostly unintended) introduction of exotic species - because they devestate an ecosystem that is not evolved to handle them. Witness the zebra mussel, purple loosestrife, snakehead fish, the toads in Australia, etc. etc. The list can go on for a long time. Now, we're going to completely and intentionally screw the whole world up!

I read a similar article in the papers over here in Canada, about introducing African and Asian elephants and lions and tigers to the Canadian Prairies. I laughed my ass off when I read it. All those animals will do great for one summer; and then they'll all die in the winter. Makes ya wonder what these "scientists" are smoking, and if they've ever spent even one day outdoors away from their cities.

And since when did cheetahs ever roam North America? More revisionist thinking, and now it's from "scientists". The whole thing smacks of PETA and ALF's disturbed thought processes, if you ask me.

WindsorArcher is offline  
Old 08-20-2005, 11:30 AM
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Default RE: Scientists Gone Wild

Absurd. Im all for trying to build up animal populations for the good of the animal, but not when it comes to an elephant or lion roaming through my hunting grounds.
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Old 08-20-2005, 12:23 PM
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Default RE: Scientists Gone Wild

These guys are delusional.
If this is real, it just about takes the cake.

It amazes me to no end that supposedly 'thinking' and 'rational' individuals are so myopic.

In one form or another every data entry system from calculators to the most sophisticated computers has a 'TOTAL' button...and these guys can't find it.


jmcg is offline  
Old 08-20-2005, 03:50 PM
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Default RE: Scientists Gone Wild

aw you had me excited i thought this tied in wit girls gone wild
but yea those scientists r wild
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Old 08-20-2005, 04:00 PM
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Default RE: Scientists Gone Wild

Lion's and Tigers and Bears .. OH MY![8D]
vonottoexperience is offline  
Old 08-20-2005, 04:25 PM
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Default RE: Scientists Gone Wild

ORIGINAL: horntagger
Plus all an elephant is a gloried PIG, most states are trying to get rid of them with open season.
All else aside, that has got to be one of the most ignorant statements I have heard in a long time, if not ever.
metro is offline  

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