[Taxacom] Conservation (Canadian coin controversy)

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Tue Jan 11 21:05:51 CST 2011

Dear All,
         A controversy has arisen over a new Canadian coin which
supposedly should help promote the conservation of certain endangered
species which occur in the National Parks of Canada.  Two of the four
species pictured on the coin have stirred no controversy whatsoever
(especially the Whooping Crane).  However, two of the other species do
not occur in Canadian National Parks at all.          
        Of those two species, the southern maidenhair fern is
particularly controversial, since it not only does NOT occur in Canadian
National Parks, but occurs by chance in one tiny spot in Canada.  This
would not be so bad, except that this species grows like a weed in the
southeastern United States.  That it should be protected in Canada (at
all) is questionable, but that it should be place on such a coin along
with the Whooping Crane is (to use the term of other critics)
       The term "triage" seems appropriate here.  A species like the
whooping crane should clearly be protected, but something like this fern
(which is quite common in the United States, makes no sense.  Even the
Canadian researcher whose work lead to the listing of this fern as
endangered in Canada says that it "weird" to have included it on this
coin.  The only thing that one can wonder (about those who approved
including this fern on the coin) is "what were they thinking?"                    
      That a species is in danger of extirpation in a VERY tiny outlying
area (far from its natural range) has nothing to do with the danger of
its extinction as a species.  Were there any biologists involved in this
decision at all?  It's not even close to being a subspecies, and I
wouldn't be terribly surprised if it was introduced there by people (on
purpose or by accident).  In any case, it seems to be Much Ado About
Nothing.   But I guess it is now too late to take it off the coin, and
they should have consulted knowledgeable biologists before such a
questionable decision was made (presumably by some governmental
            ----------Ken Kinman                        

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