Posted by Lilly from ? (220.127.116.11) on Friday, August 23, 2002 at 12:41PM :
So, here's an intro about how I stumbled across this site (funny article & link to site are below)... In the spring of 2001, on one of my daily morning jogs, I came upon a crow lying in a gutter on the street. At 1st, I thought it was road kill, but then I noticed that its head was up (it was lying on its back), perpendicular to the ground, & its beak was moving. So, I ran home, grabbed some gloves & a large paper bag, & drove over to the spot where the crow was lying. With gloves on, I gently picked up the bird, & set it on the ground... it couldn't stand & it couldn't fly. It must have been windfall from the huge storm the day before - it must have been a baby thrown from its nest, & one of its legs was damaged in the fall. So, I scooped baby up & placed baby in the paper bag (I couldn't find a box at home), & called a bunch of wildlife experts about who to take baby to, what to feed baby until Monday (it was a Saturday when I found it), & other stuff baby crows need. When I was carrying the bag to the car, its parents followed me overhead - 2 adult crows cawing down to their disappearing baby. I WISH I could have left baby where I'd found it, but the neighborhood was full of loose cats (sorry if I offend cat lovers out there, but cats should always be kept indoors, in my opinion - dogs, at least, don't mercilessly play with their prey before killing them & dogs are not allowed to roam about free of leash or fence like cats are). Anyway, baby was sad, & when I cawed back to baby, it quieted baby down, but I sincerely hope baby didn't feel abandoned by its parents. I took baby to a lady who specializes in caring for wild birds, releasing them back into the wild if they are not permanently injured, keeping them or sending them off to parks for educational display if the birds are too injured to make it in the wild. She was a fascinating woman, & she was incredibly excited about the crow b/c a local park had recently asked her for a crow & this one was permanently injured - a perfect match. Crows are illegal to keep as pets & around here, crows are usually killed & left to rot - no one really cares about them b/c they are "pests." So crows are barely ever brought to her for help. Anyway, this whole episode inspired me to read up on crows, & here is the online magazine that I stumbled across. Apparently, crows can be taught to speak like parrots! & they are incredibly social animals (they hold funerals for members of their "murders"/groups who die) w/ strong family ties. Fascinating! Oh, I loved baby crow, & baby crow was loved by its parents. The sad ending is that baby crow died, it couldn't recover even with the expert looking after it... but baby will not be forgotten by me. :)
HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON EVOLUTIONARY ANOMALIES AND ERRORS
Biodiversity threat -- challenge & opportunity
From testimony of Norton Wattson* presented to House Sub-committee on Evolutionary Anomalies and Errors
Q:Dr. Wattson will you summarize, briefly and in layman’s terms, the evidence which suggests that rampant bio-diversity poses a critical threat to environmental stability in the 21st century?
A:I appreciate the opportunity to respond. Paleobiologists have long known that in the past, at approximately 30-million year intervals, the numbers and particularly the variety of life forms on this planet have been drastically and rather suddenly reduced. On some occasions there has been an 80 percent reduction in species of plants and animals. The effects have been wholesome. Surviving organisms are invigorated; the gene pool is cleaned of fetid, decaying matter; given room and resources for doing so new species have proliferated. The process and consequences might be likened to severely pruning a straggly hedge or giving an evergreen garden a good weeding.
Q:These reductions were accomplished by what agencies?
A:By cataclysmic natural events: heavy meteorite bombardment, exceptional volcanic action, extensive climate changes. However, though biologically necessary, these events are unpredictable and appear to be random ones, not at all responsive to organic needs. The last such episode apparently occurred more than 40 million years ago. In other words, significant biological reductions in force is at least 10 million years overdue. Consequently it is now estimated that there are 100 million species of plants and animals, clearly far in excess of what is required for a planet of this size. Many of them are enfeeble and ecologically superfluos if not senescent. Yet all occupy space and exploit resources which otherwise would be available to more valuable and attractive organisms. For example, we calculate that approximately 46 percent of the world’s energy supply is now being consumed by plants and animals of very low or no utility.
Q:Dr. Wattson, your testimony is alarming but is this a situation in which, as the saying goes, we must let nature take its course? Simply, should or can the Committee treat this as an action issue?
A:Because of advancement in nuclear energy, toxicology and genetic engineering, we no longer are dependent on the vagaries of nature to maintain proper biological balance. I am convinced that we possess the technology and resources to achieve significant species reduction by the end of the 21st century. I passionately believe that this ecological stabilization is imperative for both pragmatic and moral reasons.
Q:How much of what you describe as pruning and weeding do you anticipate must be done?
A:In Document C which I have made available to the Committee there is a species-by-species analysis which addresses this question. In general we believe a 60 percent reduction in plant and animal species can and should be accomplished by the end of the 21st century.
Q:Has this been prioritized, that is in terms of what will and will not be retained?
A:We realize that in some instances political considerations may weigh more heavily than purely scientific ones. For example, in our preliminary listing all legitimate domestic plants, animals, and game species are retained. However, an effective public relations campaign may well permit further reductions here. Objectively the cow, chicken and perhaps catfish are alone sufficient as meat sources. So called "natural" furs and fibers have been displaced by synthetic fabrics. After effective attitude adjustment sportsmen should be satisfied with the bass, goose, squirrel and deer. We have an overabundance of grains and grasses and it is absurd to continue cultivating soy, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard, when one of these vegetables is more than sufficient.
In regards to those often termed "wild" plants and animals the choices are less difficult. We recommend the complete and immediate elimination of two categories. The first consists of organisms that have proven to be annoying, detrimental, useless or repugnant. The continued toleration of such things as poison ivy, wood ticks and jellyfish is neither necessary nor wise.
Secondly, retaining already obsolete species, those often referred to as rare and endangered, is pointless and, in evolutionary terms, insensitive. According to our calculations, removing all dangerous, disagreeable and dying organisms will bring about a reduction of about 30.67 million species.
Through a process known as bio-compaction we also are confident of accomplishing a macro-reduction in the number of natural redundancies. By way of small, homely example, presently there are some 40 species of warblers in the United States. As members of the Committee may know, all of these birds are small, insignificant, much alike in form and function. Only two will be kept for sentimental and aesthetic reasons. There are many similar and similarly correctable situations. The maniacal diversity of bugs (including a ludicrous 11 million beetles) and reptiles is dismaying. Through bio-compaction we propose reducing such creatures to a figurative handful. In other cases an owl, bat and three varieties of moths will provide a sufficiency of night-flying animals. One species of duck will adequately fill the waterfowl niche. There is an unwholesome plethora of rodents. One of the friskier squirrels and perhaps, as a curiosity, a porcupine should be enough of these. There is no need for more than one carnivorous mammal in this country. Based on an analysis of elimination costs, only the coyote will be retained.
Crows and ravens have been designated as the sole avian scavengers and predators. Informed speculation suggests that given an uncluttered environment conducive to their development these promising birds may replicate the vocalization of all former songbirds, prove useful in such areas as military intelligence gathering, crime prevention and waste disposal.
The need for bio-compaction is most evident in the plant kingdom. Detailed botanical action proposals also appear in Document C. However, as suggestive illustration consider for a moment only trees. As has often been noted, one of them is pretty much like any other. Therefore we have concluded that retaining only one representative of the oaks, maples and cottonwoods, the red cedar, blue spruce and white pine will provide adequate as well as colorful, visually pleasing forest cover.
Q:Dr. Wattson, would there be new or increased health risks attendant on such actions as you propose?
A:Obviously this has been a point of focus. It is our best determination that initially there may be some slight increase in risk for individuals especially sensitive to radiation or terrestrial and aquatic toxins as well as those predisposed to mutation. However, in the long term there will be a marked increase in public health since dangerous and disease-bearing organisms will be at the top of what has jocularly been called our hit list. I can assure you that once we get done with it there will be no mosquitoes spreading West Nile fever or rats running around with bubonic plague or monkeys starting AIDS epidemics.
Dr. Wattson, we greatly appreciate the time you have given us. Your eloquence equals your erudition.
Dr. Norton Wattson
*Dr. Wattson is the Director of the Ecoexcess Research Facility of Corvi College. In addition to serving as a member of the Board of the American Society of Crows and Ravens, he is a founder of the Dominionists Club, Secretary of the United Paving Council, Trustee of the Artificial Turf Federation and consultant to the International Agribusiness Round Table. Wattson is a recovering dwarf and misologist.
CORVI CHRONICLE - Volume 25, Issue 1, 2001 Index
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