This week’s KQED “Do Now” Tweet was regarding the northern spotted owl, and its invasive competition, the barred owl. The barred owl is better matched for survival in the northern spotted owl’s native home in North America, and is causing the already endangered smaller owl to be driven closer and closer to extinction. Scientists have made attempts at reintroducing the northern spotted owl but to no avail. The only success they have achieved has come from killing off populations of barred owls in select areas to provide more room and food for the native species.
This is where we hit a moral dilemma. Is it justifiable to kill off one species, even in just a select area, in order to save another? Some say that it is completely justifiable. If the barred owl only invaded the northern spotted owl’s territory because of human activity, then it should be our responsibility to return things to the way they naturally were. Regardless of the means we use to get there, somehow we must stop the northern spotted owl from going extinct. Many believe that this is the right way to go, especially because wildlife agencies in other areas around the world have allowed for similar things to occur in order to control or replenish a certain population. If human activity caused the problem, we as humans are responsible for ending the problem.
On the other hand, some argue that humans have no right to interfere with nature and the life of a species, even to save another. To kill one animal in order to save another is not only allowing members of one species to die, but it is directly causing their death instead of indirectly. Humans already tampered with the balance of life by introducing a foreign species, we should not do anything more to upset nature. Many believe that it is not within our rights to kill a species just because we can, even if the goal is to save another species of animal.
As you can see, this issue is very controversial. People hold many different opinions, and it is impossible to say which is right and which is wrong. As for where I stand on the issue, I don’t think that it is right to kill off a species of animal in order to save another. At the same time, I believe that it is our responsibility as a human race to right the wrongs we have done to nature. If we were able to come up with an alternative method of reintroducing northern spotted owls into the environment, like breeding them in captivity or in a sanctuary before release, I feel that this would be preferrable to killing off the barred owls. ✾