Killing Cormorants

I just read a newspaper article in the the “East Oregonian” that caused me to defer a planned blog post and focus on yet another attempt by government scientists to ignore the lessons of modern complexity science and attempt to control Nature. This time it appears that there is a fine academic institution involved.

In a previous post entitled “Complexity Ignored”  I proposed that government “wildlife management”  is an exercise in folly. I noted:

“No matter what the source of ignorance, the bottom line is that one cannot manage Nature because Nature is not predictable. And, Nature is not predictable because it is a complex dynamic system. This is a basic premise of complexity science !! We see this in weather predictions, the stock market, fish schools, bird flocks and animal populations.”

The “East Oregonian”, stated

“Oregon Wildlife Chief Ron Anglin says harassment has ‘proved insufficient’ in controlling double-crested cormorants, and officials want the option of killing some of the birds….the birds are threatening restoration of wild fish protected by the Endangered Species Act, as well as hatchery fish important to sport and commercial fishing.”

It seems that the cormorants are eating the Salmon and these guys think they can control  the effect of the cormorant’s behavior by killing some of them off. What makes this particularly offensive is that man is the one who has been responsible for causing massive reductions in the Salmon stock. In an up and coming blog post where I address the subject of dynamic changes in connections between patterns in Nature, I note:

“…in the 18th century, there were some 10 to 16 million Salmon returning annually to the basin. Today, the population is below one million and a quarter of the species have become extinct. The reason for this decline is the human population that has severely altered Nature’s dynamic connections by over-fishing Salmon in the ocean, constructing dams, and radically altering land use along the river.

What makes this whole thing so untenable is that Mr. Ron Anglin and his colleagues have totally ignored (or are totally ignorant of) complexity science where we now know that the behavior of complex dynamic systems like flocks of cormorants and the connection to their prey cannot be predicted.  Mr. Anglin, and predatory bird coordinator (an interesting job title) Lindsay Adrean, cannot possibly predict the outcome of a cormorant shooting spree.

To make matters more disconcerting, an Oregon State University professor of wildlife ecology by the name of Dan Roby is somehow involved. OSU is a prestigious institution. But, to have one of their professors of wildlife ecology ignore complexity science and our inability to predict indicates he might be living in an academic stone age.

Most certainly, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is closing the barn door after the horse has left. We humans have done enormous damage to the Salmon stock all by ourselves without any help from the Double Crested Cormorant. Our government wildlife people (and perhaps our academic people) need to go back to school and learn about complexity science. They need to quit meddling with Nature, and let the complexity of patterns in Nature do its job. Let Nature recover from our misdeeds on its own.

To kill cormorants because their consuming of Salmon affects the human sport fishing industry is unconscionable !!  It is a reflection of humanity’s arrogant domination of Nature rather than a sensitivity and reverence for Nature as it is.

By the way, with a huge national debt, where are these guys getting the money to pursue this kind of stuff?

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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

5 Responses to “Killing Cormorants”

  1. Douglas McLaurin says:

    As always Bill: Greed wins over Wisdom.

    We need a new system based on responsibility and in which Nature can also have her share of our Planet’s bounties.

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