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Earth Science

Should We Eat Invasive Species? 290

Posted by timothy
from the will-ponder-this-over-some-nutria-mousse dept.
The Washington Post's Energy & Environment section raises today the question of whether the best way to control certain invasive species is to eat them. The biggest success story on this front in the U.S. has been the lionfish; it destroys the habitat of some other fish in the areas where it's been introduced, but it turns out to be a palatable food fish, too. Its population has gone down since the start of a concerted effort to encourage it as a food, rather than just a nuisance. The article touches on invasive species of fish and crustaceans, but also land animals and plants. I know that garlic mustard (widespread in eastern U.S. forests) is tasty, and so are the blackberries all over Seattle.
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Should We Eat Invasive Species?

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  • by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @11:36AM (#47087385)

    every year seattlites eat all the blackberries they can pick. The only thing that cut that down was when people began spraying them. But you cold not possibly get more people eating them, and that didn't dent the population in 50 years. On the otherhand no thinks of them as invasive in the sense they were not natural to live there. the pacifc northwest is berry country. Just a thorny nuisance you have to keep cut back when it encroaches walkways not unlike choking vines on trees.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @11:47AM (#47087451)

    Not in the wild but cultivated.

    The cow, the chicken, the pig... these animals have no natural habitat anymore really... yet are in no danger of dying of. Neither for that matter is the domesticated dog or the house cat or the gold fish.

    All small endangered animals can be bred as pets or food. By all means, protect their habitat in the wild but that is no guarantee that they will survive as a species. Maintain them as pets or food in our society though and they'll live as long as we continue to do that.

    As for large animals... encourage farmers to take care of a couple. Seriously, a cattle rancher could take in a few rhinos. Have a special pen for them. Make the whole thing tax deductible until there's some way to recoup the cost. These people breed BILLIONS of animals in captivity. We could do the same with rhinos, elephants, etc.

    Right now one of the things hurting these species is that its very hard to legally own them.

    An animal that belongs to no one will not be protected. We've seen this in Africa where the wild animals are prey for poachers. However, if you give the animals to the local villages and make the animal's survival the villager's responsibility they suddenly stop getting eaten or killed for their ivory.

    This is the solution.

    Anything else will likely harm these species more, waste time, waste money, and accomplish very little.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @11:54AM (#47087499) Homepage Journal
    There is a solution to this problem: goats. Turn all that thorny nuisance into yummy meat and cheese.
  • Re:On that note (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @12:03PM (#47087545) Journal

    Let's hope the rest of the earth's species don't adopt this plan to control the invasive naked apes.

    Homo sapiens is pretty tough prey. We're tough enough catch and kill on an individual basis, on a group basis it becomes virtually impossible, even if you take away our technology.

    The only predators that can kill humans in comparative safety are ambush predators (salt water crocodiles) and predators more adapted to their environment than we are (sharks). The former are probably the biggest man eaters on the planet and the latter don't regard us as optimal prey, because we're not energy dense enough for them (insert obese American joke here) when compared to their preferred prey.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @12:20PM (#47087631) Homepage Journal

    50 years?

    just wait another 50 years and it's a staple of the eco habitat in seattle and you'll be fined for poisoning them.

    thats what I wonder about the lionfish population, if they eat them to almost extinct in the area.. and it takes 10 years to do so, will greenpeace tell you to quit eating them?

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @12:21PM (#47087641) Homepage

    Blackberries can be controlled, you just have to invest a little time. Basically? When you pick, tie a small ribbon on the branch you got it from. At the end of the growing season, cut out anything with a ribbon on it, because that vine will never produce fruit again, it will only become a "stringer", which spreads to produce more vines.

    This way, the plant can be controlled and kept to one area. But again, you have to invest time, which not many people have a lot of these days.

  • by wezelboy (521844) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @01:31PM (#47088027)
    I loathe the Himalayan Blackberry. The berries, while large and numerous, are bland. They store a lot of energy in their roots quickly, so once they get a foothold, they send out shoots everywhere- especially after you cut them back.

    Goats are the best remedy. I had a single goat clear an acre of 8-10' tall bramble in a span of a few months. For good. They eat new shoots as soon as they appear until the blackberry roots have expended all their stored energy.

    If you don't have a goat, then you must remain vigilant. I have a zero tolerance policy towards blackberries. If I see one on my property, it dies.
  • Give Me More (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jim Sadler (3430529) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @02:18PM (#47088261)
    Florida has a lovely python population and they can be eaten or made into boots. We have tilapia in abundance. We have the the snake head fish from the orient as well as peacock and rainbow bass and also some species of piranha. I welcome all of these invaders. We also have armadillos and iguanas both of which also are good eating. All in all i want more. I wish the jumping silver carp as well as the big head carp would invade Florida big time. Poison toads are killing a few pets but other that and one nasty, African snail that can actually eat the plaster off your exterior walls i tend to love the exotics. They are fun to catch and some get really large. And we don't even want to get into the good things that Kudzu vine can do if properly used. We have invasive bamboos which are also wonderful. Some items seen to be a curse tend to become valued. The dreaded zebra mussel in the Great Lakes has become a great food source for sturgeon and the water is cleaner for having them. Lampreys were cursed and considered an emergency and now people cook and eat lampreys. Frankly i think the fight against most invasive species simply creates jobs for public employees.
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @04:20PM (#47088883)

    Precisely. A book that theorized on the issue was the Phillip K Dick book "do androids dream of electronic sheep" in which most species were maintained by human beings as a kind of social obligation. It was a mark of social status to own and care for an animal. And through that they maintained many animals that otherwise would have gone extinct.

  • Re:On that note (Score:4, Interesting)

    by warrax_666 (144623) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @05:15PM (#47089125)

    Here: http://www.ted.com/talks/bonni... [ted.com]

    Not being an expert in the field, I cannot vouch for its accuracy.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

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