Author's Note: This was another assignment from my sophomore year English II-Honors class, in which we were instructed to write a defense to persuade our audience that something usually discounted or despised has merit. I decided to try something a little more daring than most of my other classmates, and wrote a defense in favor of demolishing reservations for endangered animals.
Every year, thousands upon millions of dollars from countries all around the world are used for one thing: establishing and maintaining reservations to protect species that are classified as endangered or threatened. While these countries surely believe they're doing the right thing by protecting their precious wildlife, perhaps it's time to consider another view: the dismantlement of these reservations. Not only would this save the countries money, but even make them money by allowing more room for economic and urban development while at the same time ensuring the continuation of natural selection as it was meant to be: survival of the fittest.
The European bison was once spread entirely through Europe, but by the early 1920s had become totally extinct in the wild. After a massive effort from many countries to preserve the population, a breeding program was created using fewer than 30 remaining individuals from zoos. Almost 85 years later there are over 3200 European bison, mainly descended from one original bull – but all have severe genetic problems due to inbreeding, especially involving the reproductive system. Two of its original three subspecies have gone extinct; without the ability to reproduce or the artificial help of genetic manipulation, it looks like the rest of the bison will eventually die off too.
What the European bison are currently experiencing is nothing new; problems with inbreeding can be seen in purebred showdogs as well as the rare Florida panther; isolating these endangered species will only make people feel better about the problem while the animals continue to inbreed, weaken, and eventually die. If all that effort is of no real use, then why bother? As has been already pointed out, without drastic measures those animals were going to die off eventually. Charles Darwin called it natural selection: only the strongest species best suited to their environment could survive, while the weakest died out. Why not just stand back and let natural selection take place?
The fantastic amount of money, effort, and land used to push programs like this along could have been used in many other ways, such as helping the poor and homeless by building more homes and creating businesses. The detrimental effects of reservations can be clearly seen in the northeastern United States, where governmental restrictions against doing any logging on the protected land where the endangered spotted owls live have put many people out of business in an area that relies heavily upon trees for jobs. It's all a question of who will move or even (whisper it) die – first: the people or the birds. And judging by the carrier pigeon, dodo, and all the other species which went extinct before them as a result of direct human intervention to gain food or land, the result is fairly predictable.
For those who argue that the loss of one species could result in the disruption of an entire ecosystem, natural selection comes into play again: every time one species goes extinct, there are many other opportunistic species just waiting to take its place. Just look at a lawn: weeds will always spring up and spread if not controlled, eventually crowding out and choking off the normal grass. Different insects would come to pollinate the new weeds, and in time the lawn's ecosystem would change – for the better, since the weeds are naturally hardier than the grass, as proved by the fact that they survived. And yet, for no good reason, people continue to carefully pluck these weeds out, ensuring the procreation of the pitifully weak lawn grass.
Looking at things from a different angle, humans themselves are part of millions of years of evolution and natural selection: blame it on meteors, volcanic eruptions, a mysterious disease, or an incredibly lucky series of events that just happened to wipe out the dinosaurs but spare the mammals, humans are still here today. But yet, where would we be today if a habitat had been set up to protect the last dinosaurs? It may be that by hindering natural selection, evolution itself may be disrupted.
Building reserves to hold critically endangered species not only ultimately prevents the goal of preserving the species by weakening its members through prolonged inbreeding, but also weakens the nation itself by denying its government and citizens needed resources and living space. These reserves are attempting the futile task of holding back natural selection and preventing the inevitable at the risk of dealing a severe blow to the natural processes of evolution and the local ecosystem. Reservations for endangered species must be taken down immediately if these problems are to be avoided.