My piece on the Verge piece on the Quartz piece on killing wild predators


I just have to say something about this. I get it, Quartz did a think piece, one of the authors is a philosophy major. If we care about cruelty to animals (and I think we should) we should care about wild animals being killed violently by predators. Fine. I see the point.

But the real life effects would devastate a given ecosystem; and indeed such programs have done exactly that where they have occurred officially or unofficially. Even if you were to carry it out in some dubious non-interventionist style—the authors suggest some such approach, but hand-wave around any proposal of exact methods—there are inevitable unforeseen consequences, and potential cascading failures, when you meddle with a complex system like a food chain.

I contend that to not immediately understand the above, when contemplating removal of a population of predators, is a level of scientific ignorance coequal with intelligent design and climate change denial. Shouldn't that have trumped any "hey, let's look at things from a QUIRKY, CONTROVERSIAL ANGLE" pageview stratagem?

I mean, didn't we all learn this in 6th grade? Apex predators control the populations of more numerous animals down the chain; remove the predators and the prey animals overpopulate and then in their turn decimate populations further down the chain, destroying their own food supply and then probably starving, etc etc. This is middle school biology! Have the quartz authors never heard the term "ecosystem"? Am I taking crazy pills?

Loren and co. discuss this, in detail. They mention deer populations in the US rising in areas with no wolves. Could've taken it further and describe white-tailed deer overpopulation destroying all the remaining forests in the eastern US. There are plant species going extinct there, cause of these freaking deer. But the root cause is there aren't any wolves or bears or other large predators in the area, haven't been for a 100+ years, because we shot them all.

So you have this idea: "hey let's be contrarian and say killing Cecil the lion was actually good. Predators kill other animals right? Killing=bad!" To then not instantly realize "nah, that would make us look like goddamn halfwits!" is beyond my comprehension. My mind is blown right now. The Verge could've gone with "Baffling, Incomprehensible Lunacy" in place of "Stupid Idea" in their headline, IMO.