In the kind of battle that is likely to become more common in a world with rapidly changing climate and continued expansion of human population and development, debate has heated up over what to do about threatened animals. Humankind ultimately caused the problem by taking up such a sizable portion of the planet's land and resources, and now human beings are arguing over how best to provide for the survivors.
It's the kind of battle that pitches brother against brother, and touches nerves, given that two adorable species are involved, one of which has been snuggling up to us in our homes for generations.
Long Island's Newsday reports that the region's Cedar Beach is at the breaking point when it comes to feathers vs. claws. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials had threatened fines against the town of Mount Sinai if they didn't do more to protect nesting piping plovers, a species that has been listed as endangered since 1986.
The past few years, the beach has been home to a single pair of nesting plovers, and wildlife officials say they have evidence that the area's robust feral cat colonies are partly to blame for the birds' troubles. They worry that a swipe of a paw could further jeopardize this iconic species.
Bird advocates and cat supporters have been waging a war of words over what do to at Cedar Beach for some time, and the tensions echo larger patterns in the green movement. Any social movement is incredibly diverse, with as many viewpoints as there are individuals, but some common threads have emerged.
Some want absolute protection for endangered species, even to the point of poisoning invasive or feral invaders. On Long Island, plover advocates have pushed for more humane methods, especially TNR (trap, neuter and return) strategies for feral cats. Still, officials are leery of returning predators to embattled beaches. Other animal rights advocates argue that humankind has no right to interfere with other species, even if we caused the problem in the first place, and even if one of the parties is likely to go extinct. Others take more moderate positions, arguing for more gradual resettlement of cats, or make the argument that cats may be beneficial on balance because they control rodents.
Human beings have caused enormous disruption to the Earth, and that has resulted in having to make some tough choices when it comes to remaining plants and animals. But that doesn't mean we can abdicate responsibility.
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