A Star Tribune story of September 18th narrates how a $5 million dollar initiative to erect "an underwater sound barrier" got washed away. It seems the state's Department of Natural Resources thought the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would take over at some point, because that's what the Corps tends to do. "We were surprised to hear they couldn't work with us on the project," Steve Hirsch, the DNR's director of ecological and water resources, told the Star Tribune. Hirsch added that the Corps claimed "they weren't authorized or funded to work on it."In short, there are turf wars and a lack of communication among politicians who voted for the funding, the DNR, the two states, and the Army Corps. As the carp says, "I'm shocked!"
Complicating the issues is a debate about the effectiveness of barriers against hungry carp. But here the Army Corps recently offered "new evidence that a series of barriers in the Chicago River waterway system have been 'very effective,'" and increased voltage might improve that further.
For some, there's way too much government entanglement with Big-Mouth Carp, and they want private industry (with grant help from somewhere, and often that somewhere is a gov't) to sell the Carp back to Asia as food. Eat the crappy carp!
"We're in uncharted waters here," according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud in Thursday's Chicago Tribune. "Why remove them and put them into a landfill when you can take them and use them for good? If we can get past the name 'carp' and the perception ... we can prove this is going to be a highly nutritious, cheap meal." It tastes, according to promoters, like a cross between scallops and crabmeat, if you can get past the barrier of numerous bones. Carp are low in mercury and high in Omega 3 fatty acids, so let's call carp "silverfin" (Patagonian toothfish was re-imaged as pricey Chilean sea bass) and get it on the menu. A Chicago chef already has a recipe for "Carp-accio."
Well, let them eat carp!
There are those who take offense at the terms of the discussion with "invasive" species pitted against "native." One problem is that such terms don't account for "natural" or adaptive biological changes over the eons and for changes caused by climate and geographical events. Other reasons for concern include a problematic analogy with human migration issues. For example, are illegal immigrants (or any immigrants) from other countries a threat to U.S. "natives"? It has also been pointed out that summarily applying "illegal" to children and infants just doesn't sound right. This is an area where human/animal comparisons fall apart: humans have the advanced cultural skills (we hope) to deal with global interchanges. Also, what does "native" mean when applied to U.S. residents? They're actually Asiatic but crossed an Alaskan land bridge in Prehistory? They were already here when the Mayflower landed? They came on the Mayflower? They fled a potato famine? They fled the Nazis and arrived with advanced degrees in physics? Complicate that with the travels of European or American "natives" in the era of colonialism and currently with globalization.? Is Coca-Cola a dangerous invasive species?
The Random Animal will leave these questions for presidential debates. There's also the point that being a species native to the North American Continent insures acceptance and protection. Take the case of the wolf, again. As noted in the blog of August 24th, Montana and Idaho will have hunting seasons for the re-introduced wolf. Apparently, withdrawing the wolf from the endangered species list was part of a federal budget deal--the wheeling and dealing that happens to pass legislation or tuck in a special interest item. All this is explained on a recent PBS Newshour report. Many ranchers still hate wolves, though wolves were in the area first. Since their reintroduction in 1995 to Yellowstone National Park, wolves have spread outside those boundaries and have killed about 4500 cattle and sheep. (It is difficult to find out if specific herds are particularly beset or how many livestock roamed the areas.) One rancher interviewed couldn't see the point of anyone wanting such a successful predator around. Another ranch family addresses the risk of wolf attach by keeping cattle grouped within movable fencing, mimicking the protective circle buffalo create. It takes more time and money, but they have not had wolf problems. And problem wolves have been shot regularly, under gov't oversight, and they are not part of the hunt count. The scientist involved with the wolves' return is not against hunting them. It's the numbers that are upsetting. As the Newshour reports, Montana has about 600 wolves and will permit the taking of 220. The Idaho plan is to reduce the state's 1000 wolves to 150. That's pretty close to the definition of "decimation." The argument for wolves? They are a "cash cow" for the Park, drawing in observers, photographers, amateur naturalists. They have reduced elk herds in the region, so plant growth has revived, preserving more plant species, keeping the rivers healthier, and supporting more small wildlife including songbirds.
Maybe "native" and "alien" are misleading terms for carp and wolves. It's a matter of viable bio-diversity. Add too many carp, and that's damaged. Take away too many wolves, and that's damaged.
If only the wolf's main food source was carp.