We Need To Slaughter Owls To Save Them, Environmentalists

Here is a quiz to accurately determine how devoted an environmentalist you are. What is the best way to “save” Oregonian owls? (a) Ignore them and let them take care of themselves; (b) Allocate funds for studies; (c) Outlaw logging; or (d) Shoot them down in cold blood.

The correct answer, obvious to all true activists, is (d), kill, kill, kill.

I do not jest. According to Oregon Live, and sent in by longtime reader Mike B, armed government agents are fixing to “shoot barred owls to save spotted owls.” They even have a quota: 1,200 to 1,500 barred owls will be soon sent on their way to an early exit with a bullet to the head.

Why? It seems Oregonian owls have formed themselves into rival gangs. As with all gangs, members sport “colors” to identify themselves. One group sports “bars”, the other “spots.” For years there was a truce between the two gangs. But then, one dark day, a Barred called “Little Blue Wings” flew into Spotted turf and proceeded to have his way with some of the Spotteds’ mice.

Nobody understands why, but the Spotteds chose not to fight back. Word of their cowardice spread, and soon Barreds were overrunning the Spotteds’ turf, eating up everything in sight. The Barreds, with bellies full, began to breed more Barreds, and they in turn produced even more of their troop, etc., so that now, Barreds outnumber Spotteds.

The brash behavior of the Barreds incensed environmentalists, a group, it’s true, who are easily incensed. Their sense of fairness, badly wounded, induced them to take action. It isn’t reported, but these activists must have first tried “dialog.” One cannot imagine them resorting to violence before giving peace a chance. When it proved that the Barreds were recalcitrant, war became inevitable and weapons were handed out.

Don’t think they reached this decision without qualms; no, sir! The government first “hired an environmental ethicist to guide its discussions.” (I’m not sure what one of these creatures are, but I am so enamored by the title that I am forthwith adding to my list of credentials.) The environmental ethicist, as government-sponsored ethicists have been doing for well over a century, opted for death as the solution.

Barred Owls Shot by EnvironmentalistsThe owls pictured here were gunned down mercilessly by passion-filled environmentalists. The euphemism chosen for the slaughter was “management experiment.” As in, “Cheech, I think we need to conduct a little management experiment on Big Joey.”

These heartless black-hearted owl-killing brutes didn’t close the eyes of their victims! Just laid them out on a slab. They could have at least hollowed out their carcasses and made them into hats, or woven their feathers into souvenir t-shirts. But there they sit, uneaten, wasted flesh.

To be sure, not all are convinced that “liberating” barred owls will benefit spotted owls. Biologist Blake Murden said, “barred owls expanded rapidly because they adapt well to mixed habitat and eat a variety of prey, while spotted owls prefer old-growth to nest and, in most of its range, flying squirrels to eat.” The “generalist” barred owls are better adapted for life in that neck of the woods. “Population dynamics between two native species should not be artificially manipulated,” he said.

However, Murden works for a logging company and is therefore hopelessly biased because he receives money to say what he says. It must be admitted that environmentalists also receive money to say what they say, but what they say cannot be biased because their money did not come from logging companies. Well, not all of it. Anyway, environmentalists cannot be biased because they only want what is best.

This isn’t the first time ardent activists have taken to the wilds with death on their minds. Deadly force has long been authorized to hunt down and kill renegade sea lions. This is in Oregon, too. These same environmentalists were upset that sea lions were eating a certain brand of salmon on the environmentalists’ Pretty Fish list. Problem is, some of the sea lions in the cross hairs are on the Pretty Mammals List. Environmentalists are having a tough time deciding just what to kill.

But none of that is worrisome. What is is wondering how long until these guys figure that a “management experiment” on humans is the best way to save the planet?


  1. JH

    I planned to retire early to be a politician in my native country. However, the plan is canceled after reading all the comments in the previous post. Now, after reading this post, I see that I can’t do what an environmentalist does. There goes my second retirement plan.

  2. bernie

    After I saw this, I saw a comment at Bishop Hill that I thought was relevant:

    Three experts, a geologist, a geophysicist and a geostatistician are sitting in a pub in Wales, drinking and gazing out of the window at a field full of white sheep. After a while the geologist says:
    “Look – there’s a black sheep in all the white sheep. Just think – there must be black sheep in flocks all over Wales, thousands of them”.
    At this comment the geophysicist snorts into his beer and says “Typical geologist. You see one data point and then extrapolate it to the whole of Wales. The only thing we can really say is that there is at least one black sheep in Wales”.
    The geostatistician thinks about this for a while and then says “Actually I think we can do better than that. If we count the number of sheep in the field then we can propose a probabilistic model for the proportion of black sheep within the overall sheep population. Estimating the number of fields, we can then propose a probabilistic model of the number of black sheep”.
    The three experts fall to arguing amongst themselves about their various proposals. After a while a farmer, who has been standing at the bar listening to them, puts down his beer and walks over to them.
    “Excuse me” he says “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. Is that my dog you’re talking about?”

    And the moral of the story is…wrong model.

    Feb 25, 2011 at 3:13 PM | ThinkingScientist

    As I used to say to my clients, what is the issue and how big of a problem is it? If you cannot answer these questions, it is probably smart do nothing until you can.

  3. DAV

    “Pretty Fish”, eh? Maybe they should run the fish for office and let the voters decide which are prettier. Perhaps that would settle the otter question.

    That photo reminds of the Dalton gang laid out for inspection.

  4. Mike B

    The thing that makes this instance so unique is that they’re not managing a preditor/prey relationship, or dealing with an invasive non-native species. These are two native species (although it’s not entirely clear that they’re actually separate, since barred and spotted owls can inter-breed and produce fertile offspring). And then there was the ban on logging in National Forrests, which hasn’t helped the spotted owls.

    Love the gang riff, Matt. Lots of ways you could have gone with this one. Kudos to DAV for the link to the Dalton gang picture – a perfect juxtaposition.

  5. Dennis

    Barred owls are endemic to my area in western Montana (as well as eastern washington and Idaho). They and the Spotted Owls are the only dark-eyed owls in the U.S. (if I remember correctly) and will interbreed (thus showing the genetic similarity and indicating that the differences are largely taxonomic). Biolgists have long been concerned that this interbreeding will illiminate the species difference and produce a race of birds that is much more adaptable and, I suspect, more amenable to human endeavors. Eliminating the more restrictive species, of course, also eliminates a hook on which to restrict timber harvest.

    I learned long ago that environmentalism has little or nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with political control and the restriction/elimination of capitalism. Think back. When was the last successful Environmentalist doomsday prediction? Not since the heady days of the 60’s when air and water pollution (ie. the burning of a portion of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland) was truly a problem.

  6. HankHenry

    I was taught that if you shoot it you gotta eat it. Allowing owl shooting undermines the doctrine in game laws of wanton waste. The problem arises because wanton waste is a fairly nebulous concept and it’s often up to the hunter how hard he must look for those downed birds that get lost. If I am one bird from my limit and there are more coming in am I seriously expected to risk a wet boot when the Fish and Wildlife Service makes sport for itself hunting wild owls?
    Furthermore, didn’t the last of the black footed ferrets in the wild succumb to distemper shortly after they were discovered by well meaning government biologists? All interference, even well meaning, is an imposition of the human hand on nature.

  7. bernie

    That Royal Society seems a tad misogynistic!

  8. Ray

    What is, is wondering how long until these guys figure that a “management experiment” on humans is the best way to save the planet?

    There are precedents for that. Didn’t the Nazis try something like that to save the Ayrans? And of course the communists in the USSR performed a managment experiment on the counter revolutionaries as they created the workers paradise. Solzhenitsyn estimated 70 million died in the Gulags. Pol Pot did a managment experiment on an estimated 25% of the Cambodian population. Imagine what Pol Pot could have done in China or India With their populations. No more population problem.

  9. andyscrase

    Funny that the same kind of guys who try to interfere with their Darwinian view of the world will try to prevent a polar bear, Knut, from surviving because he was rejected by his mother.

    Odd priorities.

  10. Sera

    What shall we do when the environmentalists overpopulate?

  11. benpal

    Another solution would be to paint the barred owls with white spots. The bsrred ones might then kill their own breed.

    The whole story sounds a bit like racism among birds. I always thought racism was soooo unnatural.

  12. Cris

    But none of that is worrisome. What is is wondering how long until these guys figure that a “management experiment” on humans is the best way to save the planet?

    What makes you think they haven’t yet?

  13. The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan had (has) four fundamental goals. It has failed spectacularly to meet any of them.

    1. The NWFP has failed to protect northern spotted owls

    By most estimations, the northern spotted owl population has fallen 40 to 60 percent since inception of the NWFP.

    2. The NWFP has failed to protect spotted owl habitat

    Since inception, millions of acres of spotted owl habitat have been catastrophically incinerated. Millions more acres are poised to burn.

    3. The NWFP has failed to preserve habitat continuity throughout the range of the northern spotted owl

    The dozens of huge and catastrophic forest fires have left giant gaps in the range. The Biscuit Burn alone is 50 miles long and 20 miles wide.

    4. The NWFP has failed to protect the regional economy

    Since inception of the NWFP, Oregon has experienced 16 long years of the worst economy in the U.S., with the highest rates of unemployment, bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and hunger of any state. These are not just statistics, but indicators of real human suffering. Over 40,000 workers lost their jobs, and the rural economy has been crippled ever since.

    The plan to save the owls has not saved anything; not owls, not old-growth, not the economy. The cost for nothing? $100,000 per job per year x 40,000 jobs x 16 years = $64 billion. That’s what Northwesterners have paid, for nothing. And the bills continue to mount.

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