Since the beginning of time, species have spread and contracted their ranges.
A variety of factors including weather and climate influenced their spread and movement. Arguably, one of the most important modern factors is human influence.
As humans became more mobile, as our trade routes expanded, as our practices changed the landscape, we influenced and likely escalated species spread. For instance, the exploration of North America prompted the introduction of hogs and the reintroduction of horses.
With the passage of time and the improvement of transportation, the world has shrunk, at least metaphorically. More people criss-crossing a smaller planet for a variety of purposes created more opportunities for species to establish themselves outside their traditional ranges.
Sometimes, as with the case of rapidly spreading kudzu, someone deliberately introduced it. Kudzu, with its almost exponential growth rate, was originally touted as potential solution for erosion and a godsend for landscaping. Saltcedar choking desert waterways followed a similar path. Imported red fire ants hitched a ride on a ship and landed in Florida. The anaconda population in Florida Everglades, is thought to have originated at least in part by pet owners who tired of the big reptiles and released them into the wild.
As a whole, the species have done what successful species do—exploit and claim their niche in suitable habitat. In the absence of disease and predators, they are often unchecked.
People faced with an ecosystem that seems to be tipping out of balance have done what people do. They’ve labeled the problem, in this case “invasive species.” By its original definition, an invasive species also known as an introduced species, is a species that is not native to a specific location, and that has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health. The definition has expanded to include any species that has spread anywhere someone may not like it to be.
Faced with a system that appears to be out of balance, humans have identified introduced species as invasive enemies. Armed with poison, guns, traps and any other means necessary, humans have gone to war against the invaders.
In the course of waging war, the soldiers ignore the inherent difficulty in identifying what is native. For instance, the ancestors of Equus ferus (modern horses) evolved in North America and radiated to Eurasia before becoming locally extinct. In 1493, the horse returned to North America with the explorers. This equine globe hopping raises the question: Are horses native or exotic to the continent of their evolutionary ancestors?
But instead of recognizing inherent flaws in logic and approach, the soldiers, be they researchers, regulators, managers or owners, choose to apply a single, focused solution to a complicated problem. An all-out attempt to destroy the invaders only rewards big businesses that produce the “tools of war” and throws the system further out of balance.
As proponents of biodiversity, we believe that all species, even those that are new to an area, can play a role in a healthy ecosystem. The quest is discovering the benefits of the additions and managing them so they don’t overwhelm any other part of the local system.
Read more about holistic management practices
Desert Bighorn, Mule Deer and Cougar in High Desert Mountains of Far-West Texas
Desert Mountain Wildlife #2 – part of a series on wildlife pictures was taken in Winter 2017, at Circle Ranch in the Sierra Diablo Mountains of far-West Texas. The series contains many wildlife photos, and, […]
Grand Teton National Park Hopes Collaboration, Not Closures, Will Protect Bighorn Sheep
According to the “experts” quoted below, backcountry skiers threaten bighorn sheep numbers. This is contrary to our hands-on, 20-year experience with the desert bighorn sheep in far-West Texas. If humans don’t harass them, bighorn […]
“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” states Allan Savory in his quiet but inspirational form. NOTE: this post was originally published on May 10, 2017 Desertification is […]
Support for Mitigating Catastrophic Wildfire Damage and Environmental CWD Contamination Using Wild Horse Grazing
“Three seemingly unsolvable problems facing forest, range and wildlife managers are (1) increasing numbers and severity of wildfires, (2) the relentless spread of CWD, and (3) what to do about wild horses. What if a […]
Prince Charles: How Cattle Can Restore Habitat and Wildlife
“Prince Charles comments on Allan Savory and his integrated approach to ranching and farming, and the role ruminants for the health of grasslands. Segment from speech given by the Prince to the IUCN World Conservation […]
Public demand for healthy, tasty food produced in a manner that respects nature is the driving force behind the growing acceptance of holistic agriculture. This 20-minute video discusses how sustainably managed livestock can help restore damaged […]
A Few Pretty Horses: BLM, Critics Butt Heads Over Idaho Mustang Management
“Quoting the authors below, “Wild horse advocates note that, while horses died out in North America more than 10,000 years ago, they evolved here. Horses aren’t an invasive species, they say, just a re-introduced one.” […]
“The National Parks Service is on a mission to eradicate wild goats from Teton and Yellowstone Parks, based on “competition”. Utah disagrees with their premise. Quoting Utah’s goat management plan, “Even where both (bighorn […]
Where brush has grown into small trees, crushing the growth is a plausible alternative to poison. NOTE: this post was originally published on March 22, 2017 Aerators can sometimes work where grades or […]
“The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we […]
Healing the Land with One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts
Healing the Land with One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts” is an inspirational short film that discusses regenerative agricultural practices on a Georgia farm. This dying farm was regenerated using multi-species grazing in which all […]
Wild Horses: Analysis of The Issues and a Novel Science-supported Solution
Quoting the author of the article below, “The current American wild horse management paradigm fails economically and ecologically. Despite decades of activity, the wild horse advocacy has had virtually no meaningful effect on the plight […]
Wildfire continues to devastate the American West at increasing rates. According to some, the plan that could combat the danger of forest fire lies in the complicated history and present role of the wild horse. […]
Tasmanian Devils Born on Australian Mainland for First Time in 3,000 Years
These animals probably disappeared from the Australian mainland in large part due to human impact. They will likely thrive when reintroduced – if they are protected. America also has species that were successfully reintroduced […]
Predators including wolves can cull weak or sick deer, elk and caribou much better than any wildlife “manager”. This makes predators the best means of removing CWD-infected animals from our wild herds.