"tobin" tale

Doug Yanega dyanega at MONO.ICB.UFMG.BR
Thu Jan 7 22:12:46 CST 1999

While the story is thought-provoking, I can't help but wonder about the
following chain of logic:

>The hybrid was regarded by the government
>"scientists" as a threat to the gene pool of its parents so after having a
>nice cute phograph
>taken (on someone's hand) the bird was shot forthwith.
>No scientific defense
>was ever made for this action, or several subsequent executions of further

Consider this: while scientists may have concluded that the hybrid
represented un unpredictable potential threat to either or both parent
species (not an unreasonable conclusion, since there *are* species that
have suffered from hybridization - genetic purity aside, there's also the
possibility of mating interference and/or ecological competition, which one
would expect the scientists also took into account), why do you *assume*
that it was these same scientists who decided to kill the hybrids, rather
than some administrator(s) whose job was to act on the scientists' reports?
This would seem more in keeping with how the real world operates
(scientists make recommendations, but administrators make *policy*), and
would also be more consistent with the hush-hush aftermath. If it was the
scientists who made the final decision, it would be easy to have a
scapegoat, after all.
        Besides which, it would not really be hard to argue that this was
essentially the only approach that *guaranteed* that the hybrid(s) would
not pose a threat to the continued existence of the parent species. With
enough ecological disasters under our collective belts, maybe this is just
a sign that some people are trying to think proactively and avoid problems
before they have a chance to start. It notably comes as no surprise that
this would occur in New Zealand, the place with the most proactive
"anti-exotic species" policy in the world (instead of a "black list" of
banned species, they have a "white list" of *acceptable* species, and
everything NOT on the list is banned).

Just my take on things,


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 31-499-2579, fax: 31-499-2567  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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