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时间:2019-10-28 19:15来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]

Should People Kill One Animal to Save Another?

Since ancient times, owls2 have been called many things, such as mysterious. These birds can be found in many parts of the world. And today, one kind of owl1 is causing a problem in forests of the northwestern United States.

Barred owls are a large species3 native to eastern North America, but they began moving west at the start of the 20th century. By 1973, large numbers of barred owls had arrived in the western state of Washington. Later they moved south into Oregon and California.

In parts of the Pacific Northwest, the owls are now believed to be causing a drop in the population of a smaller, less aggressive bird: the northern spotted4 owl.

In many ways, the barred owl is the spotted owl’s worst enemy. The barred owl has more babies per year and eats the same animals, like squirrels5 and wood rats. And their numbers are now larger in many parts of the spotted owl’s traditional territory.

David Wiens is a biologist with the U.S. Geological6 Survey, a federal agency that studies the Earth and its natural resources. He and other officials are doing something unusual to protect spotted owls: killing7 barred owls.

It is a controversial, experimental program. More than 2,400 barred owls have already been shot.

Wiens is the son of a well-known bird expert and grew up with a fascination8 for birds. He has mixed feelings about the program.

“It’s a little distasteful, I think, to go out killing owls to save another owl species,” he says. But he adds, “We knew that barred owls were outcompeting spotted owls and their numbers were growing too fast."

To catch barred owls, officials put digital bird callers on the ground. Then they step back and wait as several sounds from the devices fill the air. All of this happens in the dark of night.

Barred owls dislike other birds in their territory, so they will fly down and chase other owls out. That is when Wiens and his team try to shoot them.

The federal government has been trying for years to save the northern spotted owl. Some years ago, this bird was at the center of a huge battle over logging rights across Washington, Oregon and California.

In 1990, the northern spotted owl was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Then, officials suspended logging on millions of hectares of forests to protect the bird. But the spotted owl population continued to fall.

During that time, researchers began to study another threat: Larger, more aggressive barred owls were competing with spotted owls for food and space and pushing them out of some areas.

Now comes this final effort to see whether the government can save spotted owls.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched the experiment a few years ago. It has raised questions, such as: How much is it possible to reverse9 a drop in population that has been happening for years, caused in part by human activity? And, as climate change continues to push species out and affect how and where plants and animals live, how much should people get involved?

Just as with other conservation measures that involve killing one animal to save another, the program has also led to legal questions and debate. Still the Fish and Wildlife Service has a permit to kill up to 3,600 owls and, if the program works, could decide to expand its efforts.

In four small study areas in Washington, Oregon and California, Wiens and his team have been killing barred owls to see whether the native birds return to their land once their competitors are gone. Small efforts to remove barred owls in northern California and Canada’s British Columbia have shown promising10 results.

Wiens now sees his gun as a research tool. He said that, by getting involved, humans “may be able to achieve more biodiversity in the environment, rather than just having barred owls take over and wipe out all the prey11 species.”

But not everyone agrees.

Marc Bekoff is a professor of ecology and biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder12. He strongly opposes the experiment and says humans should find another way to help owls. Bekoff notes that there is no way to see it as a good thing “if you’re killing one species to save another.”

Michael Harris directs the wildlife law program for Friends of Animals, a nonprofit group. He thinks the government should direct its attention on what humans are doing to the environment and protect habitats rather than blaming barred owls.

Some Americans see a responsibility to get involved. They note that humans are to blame for activities like logging, which helped lead to the drop in spotted owl numbers. But other people just see a losing situation.

“A decision not to kill the barred owl is a decision to let the spotted owl go extinct,” said Bob Sallinger. He is conservation director with the nonprofit Audubon Society in Portland, Oregon.

If reducing the barred owl population improves the number of spotted owls, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife may consider killing more barred owls as part of a longer-term effort. Enough success has been noted13 that the experiment already has been extended to August of 2021.

I’m Dorothy Gundy. And I’m Bryan Lynn.

Words in This Story

controversial – adj. relating to or causing much discussion, disagreement or argument

fascination – n. the act of being very interested in something or someone

logging – n. to cut down trees in an area for wood

reverse – v. to move backward; to make something the opposite of what it was

conservation – n. the protection of animals, plants and natural resources

wipe out – v. to kill or destroy someone or something completely

ecology – n. the field of biology that deals with the relationship of organisms to one another to their environment


1 owl 7KFxk     
  • Her new glasses make her look like an owl.她的新眼镜让她看上去像只猫头鹰。
  • I'm a night owl and seldom go to bed until after midnight.我睡得很晚,经常半夜后才睡觉。
2 owls 7b4601ac7f6fe54f86669548acc46286     
n.猫头鹰( owl的名词复数 )
  • 'Clumsy fellows,'said I; 'they must still be drunk as owls.' “这些笨蛋,”我说,“他们大概还醉得像死猪一样。” 来自英汉文学 - 金银岛
  • The great majority of barn owls are reared in captivity. 大多数仓鸮都是笼养的。 来自辞典例句
3 species FTizN     
  • Are we the only thinking species in the whole of creation?我们是万物中惟一有思想的物种吗?
  • This species of bird now exists only in Africa.这种鸟现在只存在于非洲。
4 spotted 7FEyj     
  • The milkman selected the spotted cows,from among a herd of two hundred.牛奶商从一群200头牛中选出有斑点的牛。
  • Sam's shop stocks short spotted socks.山姆的商店屯积了有斑点的短袜。
5 squirrels 0e988e0e8dec56e3bb331e110109cc24     
n.松鼠( squirrel的名词复数 )
  • Squirrels are arboreal creatures. 松鼠是栖于树上的动物。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Red squirrels are now very rare in Britain. 红色松鼠在英国已十分罕见了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
6 geological QgZx9     
  • aeons of geological history 数以亿万年计的地质史
  • The workers skirted the edge of the cliff on a geological survey. 工人们沿着崖壁作了一次地质勘察。 来自《简明英汉词典》
7 killing kpBziQ     
  • Investors are set to make a killing from the sell-off.投资者准备清仓以便大赚一笔。
  • Last week my brother made a killing on Wall Street.上个周我兄弟在华尔街赚了一大笔。
8 fascination FlHxO     
  • He had a deep fascination with all forms of transport.他对所有的运输工具都很着迷。
  • His letters have been a source of fascination to a wide audience.广大观众一直迷恋于他的来信。
9 reverse tsjym     
  • His answer was just the reverse of what I expected.他的回答正好与我期望的相反。
  • Please reverse the positions of two pictures.请把两张图片的位置倒转过来。
10 promising BkQzsk     
  • The results of the experiments are very promising.实验的结果充满了希望。
  • We're trying to bring along one or two promising young swimmers.我们正设法培养出一两名有前途的年轻游泳选手。
11 prey g1czH     
  • Stronger animals prey on weaker ones.弱肉强食。
  • The lion was hunting for its prey.狮子在寻找猎物。
12 boulder BNbzS     
  • We all heaved together and removed the boulder.大家一齐用劲,把大石头搬开了。
  • He stepped clear of the boulder.他从大石头后面走了出来。
13 noted 5n4zXc     
  • The local hotel is noted for its good table.当地的那家酒店以餐食精美而著称。
  • Jim is noted for arriving late for work.吉姆上班迟到出了名。
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