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Protection of Endangered Species

December 23, 1990

That animal-rights activists are opposed to the efforts of wildlife ecologists is not surprising. The idea of rights for animals has on the surface an easy emotional appeal to people interested in environmental issues; however, the animal-rights philosophy is severely inconsistent, especially with respect to wild animals and plants.

The attempt to endow animals, like people, with individual rights is unrealistic and turns a blind eye to our most severe environmental problems. Animals cannot make moral decisions, and many species must eat one another. There is no mechanism in animal rights to resolve extinction-threatening conflicts among species of animals and no real means of resolving the impacts of human population growth on the Earth. Real solutions to environmental problems will require, in the short term, conservation of major tracts of wilderness habitat with native plants, herbivores and carnivores and in the long term, stabilization of the growth of the human population and its economies.

WILLIAM MAUTZ, Laguna Beach

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