Monday, October 12, 2015

That's One Way to Deal With Rare, Endangered Species

Filardi and the now deceased kingfisher
Controversy after scientist finds rare bird -- and kills it
Last month, he (Chris Filardi) was in the Solomon Islands with other researchers. They first heard, then espied the rare male moustached kingfisher.

Then, as the Dodo reports, the beautiful orange and blue bird was "collected as a specimen for additional study." This turns out to have been a slight euphemism for "killed for additional study."

Filardi wasn't universally popular for this decision. He took to Audubon to write: "Why I Killed A Rare Kingfisher So That I Could Study It And Become More Famous." Wait, no. His article was headlined: "Why I Collected a Moustached Kingfisher." (The comments section to this article is well worth a read.)
That seems a little harsh. I'm sure they wanted DNA and all that, but it seems to me a little blood and some loose feathers should be all that's required for that. But it would look pretty good mounted and glued to a lamp in his house or something.

Filardi insists that it's not as rare a specimen as bird lovers claim:
"Though sightings and information about the bird are rare in the ornithological community, the bird itself is not. Elders of the local land-owning tribe (now living at lower elevations) relate stories of eating Mbarikuku, the local name for the bird; our local partners knew it as unremarkably common," he wrote.
I wonder if they taste like Spotted Owl?
He concluded that his actions were "standard practice for field biologists."

"Ethical collection of any individual organism is determined by basic criteria including collection below levels that will impact populations, adherence to permitting guidelines, and consideration of the importance of voucher specimens. With this first modern voucher of the kingfisher, the only adult male, we now have a comprehensive set of material for molecular, morphological, toxicological, and plumage studies that are unavailable from blood samples, individual feathers, or photographs," he said.
Still, I think he could have waited to prove that they were as common as dirt before killing the only individual known to civilized man. Just because a few old people remember eating them doesn't mean they're common today. There are may be people alive in the US today who have eaten Passenger Pigeons.

No comments:

Post a Comment