Saturday, August 1, 2009

NZ Vegan Podcast Episode 33 - "Pests": Special guest Dr. Roger Yates, who helps me tackle the huge problem of ecological issues caused by our species

Listen HERE

I am very pleased to welcome back to the show Dr. Roger Yates. This is a topic I have been wanting to tackle for the longest time, and I am very glad Dr. Yates agreed to help me. The article we refer to in the the podcast is the following:

Please contact me if you have any comments or questions, this is an extremely complicated subject and I would love some feedback, as always, and I am happy to revisit this in the future.

I am, as always, very grateful to Dr. Yates for his insight and input and help. Thank you Dr. Yates!


  1. So sorry for these poor camels - Again like all creatures... Wanted too little or too much.

    It's obvious the Powers are anxious to make them into commodities. Already planning the stages with "mobile abattoirs", marketing the benefits of the low "fat content" of their flesh... And the ever present greedy thoughts of the dollars to be had.

    Not unlike the situation with the wild Mustangs here in the U.S. The Bureau of Land Managment keeps a thumb on populations, and until recently sent thousands to be "processed" in US slaughterhouses... But now, those are closed and the horses are shipped thousands of miles away to Canada and Mexico. The whole thing is horrible.

    I don't understand with all these decades of "animal testing" (which they say they derive so much "scientific" benefit from) that they still haven't figured out non-lethal ways of managing "pest species"! They just drag their feet to a solution because it's financially profitable to do so. They have no motivation to do otherwise.

    It's ironic... the camels, the wolves, the bison, the horses, the kangaroos, the geese, the cats and dogs... all get in our way so frequently. Yet those darn cows, pigs and chickens... They'll never make too many of these it seems. :(

    Thanks for a thoughtful discussion --- I think we can all agree, there are no easy solutions, even in the best of circumstances.

  2. There are definitely no easy solutions, that's for sure.

    With regard to non-lethal methods (fertility control etc), they are being developed but are at least 10 decades away. These involve animal testing to develop though and will still face many hurdles from a public terrified of genetic modification.

    With the "pest" situation in NZ, it would actually be profitable for both the animal agriculture industry and our Department of Conservation to develop one of these biological control methods. Once developed they will be much cheaper and more effective in the long run.

    These "breakthroughs" are being fought by the possum fur industry and hunters though, as these groups do indeed profit from having "pests" present to kill. Ironic really considering that these two groups justify their murder by saying it is for "conservation" purposes - yet they openly oppose any method of killing introduced animals incase it may be too effective.

    I reckon our most moral solution may lie in offshore and mainland islands (areas of land surrounded by a predator exclusion fence). Currently these are cleared of mammalian predators by lethal means, but live trapping (or something similar) could be used. Time and money are a huge constraints though, and without more vegans to advocate for these non-lethal options we aren't going to get far.

  3. Hi Elizabeth, this was a great discussion to have, and is an issue close to my heart. Living in Australia, where everyone loves to demonise non-native species (and perceived problem populations of native species - which includes almost anything that isn't endangered), I am exasperated by our own inability to include ourselves in terms of impact on the environment. How dare we think we have the right to 'control' other species while our own species is breeding in plague proportions and devouring the planet. I think if you could sum up the impact from all other non-native species from around the world and compare this with human impact, the result from all other species combined would be negligible by comparison. Other species do not clear fell native forests, build freeways and skyscrapers. I am overwhelmed by this level of speciesism. And I believe to identify any species as a 'pest' is speciesism at its best. We are all guilty of it; valuing some species over others, but if we really think it through, how can we justify, as non-speciesists, that it is OK to control some species to save others. The truth is that the loss of a species is something that would be upsetting to us, rather than to the species themselves. What should be important to us, as non-speciesists, is that we value all individuals that are presently here, regardless of how they got here, and of what damage we believe has been done. Additionally, the ecology is no longer intact to support all the species as they once existed, as we have infiltrated almost everywhere. A strong functioning and unspoilt ecosystem will have its own defenses against new species, but not when it has been chopped up by roads and surrounded by farmland and buildings, so there is no point trying to put it back as it was unless we are planning to remove ourselves as well. Why not start to value the species that have adapted to live with us, such as the pigeons in the cities, and who knows, when they are all that's left maybe we will!