Fish vs Bugs

Sometimes we the people go a little overboard when we find a cause. Today’s Wall Street Journal has a wonderful example of this. The federal and California game officials want to restore the Paiute cutthroat trout to its previous home in Silver King Creek in the Sierra Nevada wilderness. Sounds pretty basic. Well, not so fast.

California is an interesting state in terms of environmentalists. The Central Valley, which used to be the breadbasket of America, is now a dust bowl because environmentalists are protecting the delta smelt. Some pictures of the valley taken in the summer of 2010 are posted at rightwinggranny. Americans are paying more for groceries and people are unemployed because the delta smelt (which may or may not be a separate species) is considered more important than people.

Anyway, the environmentalists in California are now in something of a quandary. Silver King Creek contains bugs that insect advocates say will be threatened by the fish fans’ proposal.

The article reports:

The result has been a war of words and court challenges between fish allies and bug allies.

“They’re nutty people,” says ichthyologist Robert Behnke, a retired Colorado State University professor and expert on North American trout who calls the bug advocates “obstructionists.”

Opponents allege the trout plan is a plot by anglers who just want to fish for rare species. “Part of the project is to expand the population of fish so they can fish for them,” says Nancy Erman, a retired University of California at Davis insect researcher who raised early objections to the proposal. Ms. Erman studied caddis flies, whose larvae live in cocoons of stream-bed debris.

“It’s a fishing agenda cloaked in environmental language,” says Ann McCampbell, a Santa Fe physician who sued the federal government over the plan.

The article concludes:

Bug advocates hailed the pro-bug ruling as a victory for under-appreciated animals. Insects need special protection because they don’t generate much sympathy, lacking the appeal of more alluring animals like trout, says Mr. Frost, the anti-toxin lawyer.

“Invertebrates aren’t sexy megafauna,” he says.

In a time when the federal budget is totally out of control, how much money is being spent on the plan to relocate the Paiute cutthroat trout and how much money is being spent to defend the relocation of the Paiute cutthroat trout? I just wonder why we can’t leave the fish where they are.


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