Thursday, September 29, 2011

Zoo restoration of nearly extinct populations

-Ahna Miller-
Section: F 12 PM
On Wednesday (September 28, 2011) 26 black-footed ferrets were sent to “boot camp” to prepare them for being released into the wild. Being the only ferret species native to North America, the species nearly disappeared in the 1970s, and now scientist seek to bring them back. Through processes such as artificial insemination, scientists have been able to successfully reintroduce the ferret back into the wild, not without controversy however. Protecting the ferrets means protecting their food source, prairie dogs, which are seen as a nuisance to local farmers.
After being bred in captivity, despite reintegration processes, do reintroduction processes to the wild compromise the wildness that conservation attempts to preserve? Can conservation efforts be truly effective if there is not support from the community it concerns?

Being that much controversy is sparked around the community with the release of these animals, it seems that the efforts to conserve the population could be countered by community action. Unless protection is put in place, the community members may take action to protect their means of living that becomes compromised by the presence of these animals. As for the reintroduction process, it seems that the scientific process that goes into bringing back this population was well thought out in terms of genetic diversity and the rest of the ecological community. If the proper protocol is followed to ensure these animals are well prepared for wilderness, I think that this method of reintroduction still supports the wildness that efforts work to conserve.
Photo: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Zoos help restore nearly extinct ferret in US West
By: Brett Zongker
US Forbes 29 September 2011.

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