They Shoot Owls, Don’t They?
by Gary Jason | Posted March 06, 2012
Some years ago, I wrote a piece in these pages about the infamous spotted owl. Under the misguided Endangered Species Act of 1990, the spotted owl was declared "endangered" (meaning, of course, "endangered by man"). As a result, the logging industry in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California was severely curtailed to “save” the bird. Tens of thousands of jobs were killed off, rates of alcoholism, divorce, and suicide spiked in the logging communities where formerly productive and proud loggers were reduced to living off the dole. Communities died.
But it turned out that the primary reason the spotted owl was dying was that another owl — the barred owl! — was moving in and taking over the wimpy spotted owl’s niche.
In short, it was natural biological evolution at work. As I noted then, 90% of all species that ever existed on this planet went extinct before hominids ever existed.
You would have expected hearings on this. You would have expected Congress investigate the bureaucrats who made a cold-blooded decision to terminate the livelihoods of the tens of thousands of victims. You would have expected that Congress would then grill the biologists who decided that it was the timber industry and not ordinary evolution that was to blame for the spotted owl’s plight. You would have expected panels of economists to testify about the cost to society of this stupid mistake.
But government almost never investigates its own mistakes and frauds. It prefers to investigate mistakes and frauds by private industry.
Indeed, when government makes a policy mistake, not only doesn’t it investigate itself, it just keeps pushing the policy further. A recent dispatch illustrates this with complete clarity.
The AP reports that even after shutting down much of the logging industry, the spotted owl continues its die-off. Its population in the Continental US has fallen by 40% in 25 years. The more aggressive barred owl just keeps taking over.
So the Obama administration, led by hardcore environmentalist Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar, has taken the next “scientific” step.
It has ordered the shooting of barred owls!
Yes, in the name of wildlife preservation, the Interior Department will start slaughtering wildlife! I mean, Kafka couldn’t have dreamt up this daffiness.
So the hard-ass, kick-ass barred owls are facing execution for daring to win the evolutionary race with the sensitive, limp-taloned spotted owls. No doubt Darwin is spinning in his grave.
Since these damned rodent-munchers are spread over 24 million acres of forest, we are talking about a hell of a lot of shooting.
What is even more absurd is that this administration — which intends to gun down the gangsta owl — is totally anti-gun.
Maybe Obama and Salazar could contact the Mexican drug lords whom Ken Holder's Justice Department helped to arm, and have them do the killings. It might be enough for Salazar to spread the rumor that the barred owls are importing drugs, thus challenging the hoodlums in their own ecological niche.
Just a thought.
Gary Jason is a philosopher and senior editor of Liberty, and the author of Dangerous Thoughts.
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