[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]
Elizabeth Kolbert’s article “The Big Kill” concentrates on New Zealand’s troubles with invasive mammals diminishing native fauna, which endangers native birds and kiwi. Kolbert raises the issue of exterminating some mammals for the purposes of conserving native wildlife, and how human migratory patterns throughout history have led to some mammals being brought to different parts of the world. She explores the large task of eliminating invasive species, since humans will continue traveling and shipping goods from country to country, thus leading to invasions from various mammals.
Kolbert’s focus on humans hunting and killing invasive mammals to protect native wildlife and New Zealand’s national identity was fascinating or alarming, depending on your point of view. What did you think? How did the article enhance or reshape how you thought about what it means to protect wildlife? Please provide a page number citation, where necessary.
Responses from other students:
"I feel that it is nature's decision to extinct a species or not. If a country wants to save native wildlife, then they should block that wildlife off from the predators, rather than killing the predator off all together." --Samantha A.
"The article was fascinating in a way because it surprised me as to how much New Zealanders valued their land and wildlife." --LaTrina B
"The article definitely reshaped my understanding of what it means to protect wildlife. While I personally do not believe in the slaughtering of living beings, I was able to under the perspective of the New Zealanders. While the techniques used to protect the New Zealander wildlife seem cruel,such as possums being dosed with cyanide (Kolbert, 163), such matters have had to be done in order to prevent the extinction of such wildlife." Kami D.
"The most intriguing part of this article were the animals. I thought it was amazing that a Rhynchocephalia was found in New Zealand. Until now, I have not heard of a species from the early Mesozoic surviving. The fact that frogs there have developed an extra vertebra instead of ear drums also baffles me. I did not know that animals in different places have actually evolved differently." --Rachael G