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November 13, 2003
Deuling Dodos

German environmentalists face a difficult choice -- can you sacrifice one species to save another?

A protected species of bird is devouring rare fish in the German state of Bavaria and creating a dilemma for local officials who now want federal permission to kill birds that once appeared headed for extinction. ... "The problem is that a protected bird is eating protected fish," a spokesman for the Bavarian environment ministry said this week. Eager to save the fish from extinction in the wild, Bavaria has asked the federal government for permission to reduce the bird population, for example by shooting them or taking their eggs.

It's fairly obvious that one of these endangered critters is going to have to be scaled back, either through intervention (the birds) or through inaction (the fish). Careful management of the cormorant population may save the fish. Is that approach likely to be followed? Well ...

But some say the government action is misguided. "Their plan will not get us anywhere," said Andreas von Lindeiner of the Bavarian bird protection group. "We cannot destroy the bird colonies," he said.

This may come down to which species has the most fans. What a wonderful way to manage endangered species! Does there exist no middle ground? Because if a compromise can't be reached, the fish are going to disappear completely.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 13, 2003 5:32 PM

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