Invasive Species?

We spent nearly two months analyzing the California Invasive Plant Council’s draft reassessment of blue gum eucalyptus and informing our readers of the fallacious reasoning used to continue its classification of blue gum as “invasive.”  We are badly in need of comic relief and we assume our readers could use some as well.  We are republishing with permission an article by Robert Platt Bell from his blog, “Living Stingy.”  Mr. Platt is a patent attorney on Jekyll Island, Georgia. His blog gives advice about “how to live a better life with less money.”  

His sarcastic criticism of invasion biology reveals that he is a man of considerable good sense.  Although we tend to use scientific arguments on Million Trees to critique invasion biology, Mr. Platt’s article demonstrates that a little common sense is really all that’s needed.  Mr. Platt ends his article with the disclaimer that he doesn’t have a cat and we will do the same.  We don’t have a cat, never have, never will. 


Some folks claim that the ordinary house cat is an "invasive species"
Some folks claim that the ordinary house cat is an “invasive species”

Your tax dollars at work.   Here on the island, they have attached little cameras to cats to monitor their behavior.  The University of Georgia is funding the study, which in turn is funded by your taxes.

They also have sent out a “feral cat awareness survey” to everyone on the island, and again, this is funded by UGA.   The “survey” is more of a “push-poll” in that it asks questions that are more answers than questions.  “Did you know that cats are responsible for killing billions of songbirds every year?” – that sort of thing, courtesy of the bureau of specious statistics.

Actually, the results of “kitty-cam” so far are that cats (1) lick themselves a lot, (2) sleep, and (3) eat cat food.   Only one cat has been caught killing for food, and no word on whether it was a rodent or a bird.

But the oddest thing about this “poll” was that they were trying to characterize house cats as “invasive species” by the way the questions were asked.

“Invasive Species”  is the hot, new, trendy term for biologists and wildlife managers to use – and one they use to justify poisoning the air, water, and soil, all in the name of “preserving nature”.

We are told (get this) that some species are “native” and others are “invasive” and that the latter need to be slaughtered, as they will push out the “native” species over time.

This may or may not be true.   The point is, the species doesn’t consider itself “invasive” anymore than the species it is displacing (which at one time was no doubt “invasive” as well).

Some try to put a spin on this based on a human vector.   If the species is relocated due to some act of mankind, then it is “invasive”, whereas if it just migrated here, I guess it is natural.  This also is a load of hooey, as the vectors that move species from one area to another have little to do with whether the species would eventually get there under its own power, or whether it would adapt to the new environment.

And speaking of “invasive species,” this sort of discussion usually neglects to address the most invasive species on the planet – a species that has occupied every ecological nook and cranny on the planet and adapted itself to harsh environments and even space.

Yea, I’m talking about you and me – human beings.   We have over-run the planet, but no one talks about euthanizing or neutering people on a massive scale.

On the other hand, we can poison some trees or a carp or whatever, and that’s going to fix everything up just Jim-Dandy!

I think biologists who believe that have their head up their ass, or are just looking for grant money.

In the Northeast, we are told the Zebra Mussel is “invasive” – but it has turned murky brown lakes crystal clear.   The powerplant that has to clean its inlet screens, we are told, is justification for dumping poison in the water, or for fining some unwitting fisherman hundreds of dollars for dragging a piece of seaweed on his boat trailer.  The upshot is, the zebra mussels are winning, much as the lamprey eels are (and the snakehead fish).

In the Everglades, we watched as “wildlife managers” drilled holes in trees and filled them with poison.   Their crime?  Being non-native.   Whether this will permanently kill off these trees is debatable, and the long-term effect of poisoning nature is something not studied.   And the cost of this “cure” is pretty staggering.

Nature expands into environments where it can adapt, and you can’t stop that.  It is like Boyle’s law about gas – it expands to fill a vessel.   Trying to hold back the tide of species is pointless and fruitless (pardon the pun) as nature will sneak around at every turn, as soon as you let your guard down.

Yes, it is bad there are Boas in the Everglades.   It is also irrelevant whether they got there as escaped pets or were dropped from an airplane or swam over from South America.   They are there, and trying to extinguish them is going to be a long, difficult, and expensive job that will never get done.

Here on the island, a couple runs a program that captures and neuters cats and then releases them.  It has been effective as the cat population has plummeted from the 1990’s until today.   (They did a similar thing in Key West, and now there is no cat problem, just a chicken problem).

But on the other hand, we are being overrun by deer – and not in the sense that “the deer ate my flowers” nonsense.   We simply have more deer than the island can support, and they are becoming smaller and more sickly as a result (and more brave, as they are not afraid of humans at all).   New breeding stock was brought in to try to reverse the trend, but it has not really helped.   Talk of managing the deer population or relocating deer is shouted down as “inhumane”.

But apparently, it is open season on cats.

(Disclaimer:  I do not presently own any cats.  I like them, but don’t like cleaning out litter boxes.  Hence I have no cats).

5 thoughts on “Invasive Species?”

    1. Thank you for your readership. I really enjoy “from the thicket,” especially your lovely art work. I have a link to “from the thicket” on my home page. I hope it brings new readers.

  1. I have two cats (that were strays), but really do not like having the feral cats in the city. I would never support their elimination though. It is not their fault stupid and inconsiderate tenants leave these cats when they leave. Tough being a house cat then having to fend for yourself with no shelter or a full food bowl. I do lil this author’s common sense and humor.

  2. Native wild horses are on this list and NPS and FWS are trying to eradicate them in NC, MD and the West. They were here for 55 million years. The modern horse E. caballus evolved here and many of the different size and shapes of horse attributed to European breeders appear to be possible genetic adaptations to the environment. This is a political policy and it has been driven by many birders. Cats and horses are treated the same way. Federal agencies have no credible sources on the origins of species and have done no credible research on the types of damage that are done. I guess this is part of the camera bit.

  3. Thanks So Much for writing this article, Mr. Bell. You definitely hit the nail on the head. I agree about some of these biologists using all this useless jargon just to get grants. “I think biologists who believe that have their head up their ass, or are just looking for grant money.” How True! Look at all the third world countries who are over run with people, and they can barely feed the “hungry masses.” The US is slowly getting in that situation. We already have hungry people in our nation, and we can just barely feed them. Fortunately we can still “mass produce” enough food to help our hungry people. And thinking of mass producing, farmers have over used the land to the point where they have to keep putting in more growth chemicals into the land in order to produce more crops. And for that matter, they also put in all these hormones into our meat to the point where we don’t know what we’re eating anymore. As a result, people are gaining more weight, and having more medical problems due to all the hormones that are in our food. And it’s all for the all mighty dollar! Isn’t everything? As a child, I used to hear that phrase, “money is the root to all evil.” Now I’m starting to actually believe it. I think these people need to get back to basics, and stop trying to eradicate all these plants and animals that they deem “invasive.” And how ironic that we are the most invasive species on the planet. The only reason that some of these plants and animals are “invasive” is because PEOPLE brought them here. These plants and animals didn’t just drop in by themselves. They were brought by people. Again, another irony. And about the cat population, I am All For Spay And Neuter. I have two male cats and we had Them, spayed and neutered. So we did our part. And I am all for that TNR program, Trap, Spay Neuter, and Release. It’s a Good Program if it were just implemented Everywhere. Maybe those people who are so hell bent on eradicating certain species of plants and animals should be spayed and neutered so that they can no longer reproduce. There’s too many of them on this planet anyway. We don’t need anymore! Thanks Again for writing this article. Great Insight, and to the point! Bravo!

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