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Playing God?

When is it alright to kill one animal to save another?

Anybody who has followed the tortuous salmon vs. sea lion debate — or the spotted owl saga that now may turn on the fate of the invasive barred owl — has to wonder: What’s the thinking behind our policies that can wind up pitting one animal against another? What role does science play in decisions about how to manage predators and prey, especially when the animal we’re saving belongs to a species that may otherwise disappear? And why are we — humans — in the position of being the arbiters?

Passions run high on all sides of this issue, and the regulatory ins and outs can be mind-boggling. But tomorrow we hope to step back and explore, broadly, how our thinking has evolved in the legal, ethical and practical realms of animal management.

Do you have memories of species in the Pacific Northwest that were once abundant, but are now disappearing? Do you ranch, and have practical views on how to manage predators to save animals that have commercial value? Have your views on this subject changed over time?

When is it alright to kill one animal to save another?

Photo credit: billread / Flickr / Creative Commons


Fred Paveglio: Regional Refuge Biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s Region I.

Patrick A. Parenteau: Professor of law and senior counsel for the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School. Was the special counsel to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — on behalf of the spotted owl — in 1991.

George Wuerthner: Ecological Projects Director for the Foundation for Deep Ecology.

Mike Colton: Owner and operator of Charles Colton and Sons Ranch; member of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Wolf Task Force; member and former president of the Baker County Livestock Association.

Bill Lynn: Professor of human-animal studies at Tufts University, founder of Practical Ethics, and blogger on Ethos (the Practical Ethics blog).

salmon predator esa

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