Should we kill one species to save another?

northern-spotted-owl-86610_640
Northern Spotted Owl

On February 4, KQED Education asked the public: Is it moral to kill one species in order to save another? There has been a lot of debate over this question. KQED Education presents the scenario of the Northern Spotted Owl and the Barred Owl. The Northern Spotted Owl is native to the Pacific Northwest and the Barred Owl has been brought into this territory. As a result, the Barred Owl has been outcompeting the Northern Spotted Owl. Experiments have been conducted to kill the Barred Owl to help the Northern Spotted Owl population recover. Thus, sparks this controversial question.

Personally, I think that no matter what the circumstances are, humans have no right to kill one species in order to save another. Let’s look at two scenarios. In this first scenario, a foreign species has migrated into an environment and has started to kill off one of the environment’s native species. The foreign species should not be killed just because it is competing for a place in this new environment. Competition is a part of life. Let’s look at another scenario. In this scenario, humans introduced a foreign species to an environment and now this foreign species is killing one of the environment’s native species. Even in this case, humans should not feel obligated to kill the invasive species to protect the native species. It is not the invasive species fault that they were introduced into this new land. Humans cannot dictate who lives and who dies. Other methods can certainly been tried in order to prevent the extinction of the native species. One method could be to relocate the invasive species back to their native land. Hopefully, this experience will cause humans to step back and look at how their actions affect the environment in the future. On the positive side, competition between the foreign and native species could lead to the evolution of the native species. If certain native individuals can fend off these invasive individuals, then these strong individuals will likely produce more offspring than who cannot fend off these invasive individuals. Over time, these weaker native individuals may die off and the stronger individuals will prosper. All individuals of this species are now better adapted to their environment. This is an example of natural selection, the idea that individuals better suited to their environment will create more surviving offspring than individuals less suited to their environment; the individuals better suited to their environment will prosper while the individuals less suited to their environment will not.

In Florida, humans introduced pythons that are now killing native species.
In Florida, humans introduced pythons that are now killing native species.

On another note, this question made me think about the conditions that are necessary for two, competitive species to coexist. I remembered learning about niche differentiation, which is when two different species are driven to occupy two different niches. Coexistence can only occur if two species occupy two different niches, as stated by the competitive exclusion principle. I realized that if species cannot coexist, they were probably not meant to coexist. Competition is therefore a natural response to the inability to coexist. This reaffirms that competition is a natural part of life. Competition between two species is only unnatural when an invasive species has been introduced by humans and now competes with a native species. Human therefore need to come up with a way to help reestablish order without killing either species. What do you think? Pick a side.

Need help coming up with your own viewpoint? Here is a video about the competition between the Northern Spotted Owl and the Barred Owl.

References:

Aust, Andrea. “Should We Kill One Species to Save Another?” KQED Education. KQED Inc., 4 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <http://blogs.kqed.org/education/2014/02/04/invasive-species-predator-kill/&gt;.

Cocoparisienne. Python Snakes Snake Black Yellow Animal. Digital image. Pixabay. Pixabay, 20 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. <http://pixabay.com/en/python-snakes-snake-black-yellow-248618/&gt;.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Principle of Competitive Exclusion (biology).”Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/129809/principle-of-competitive-exclusion&gt;.

Tpsdave. Northern Spotted Owl Bird Tree Branch Limb Nature. Digital image. Pixabay. Pixabay, 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. <http://pixabay.com/en/northern-spotted-owl-bird-tree-86610/&gt;.

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One thought on “Should we kill one species to save another?

  1. Mike R.

    I believe we should definitely not kill one species to save another. Why should we decide which animals live and which die? Let nature take its course. If humans introduced an invasive species, it is their job to find a humane solution.

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