Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just who is native?

In the headlines, well the local headlines anyway, this week is the final  removal of elk and mule deer from Santa Rosa Island.

The restoration of the Channel Islands has been a controversial story that has led to some fierce local opposition to the Park Service's culling program. Animal rights advocates have often found themselves on the opposite side of this conflict to conservation biologists.

“The distinction between native and nonnative as defined by the Park Service seems to be arbitrary — animals before Columbus’s arrival are okay, but those after are not okay. All of these creatures have been here long enough to call Santa Rosa Island home, and have been as essential to the place as the Torrey pines and the island foxes.”

I think in this case the distinction is fairly clear and the elk and deer were brought to the island relatively recently by man. However the quote above raises an interesting question; especially on islands, where every species is an immigrant, how long does a species have to have lived there before it is considered native?

No comments: