Jun 22, 2017

De-extinction is like any other conservation program

Our Expert Voices conversation on de-extinction.

Bringing back extinct species should be treated like any other conservation program — a case-by-case assessment within the context of long-term costs and benefits.

The real questions: How best to go about proceeding with de-extinction considerations? Where will funding come from? What is technically possible? What species do we attempt to de-extinct first? There are a variety of projects in discussion and development globally that aim to de-extinct species or use biotechnology to help endangered species, including: The extinct woolly mammoth, passenger pigeon, Heath hen, New Zealand's Moa, the quagga subspecies of zebra, aurochs and the gastric brooding frog Endangered species like the black-footed ferret, Northern White rhinoceros, and the American chestnut tree. Bottom line: We've already determined de-extinction can be beneficial; it is simply an extension of well-established conservation efforts to reintroduce species with vital ecological functions around the globe (e.g. wolves in Yellowstone National Park, beavers in Scotland, etc). We now need funding for studies to determine how to do it right. Other voices in the conversation: Joseph Bennett, biologist, Carleton University: Keep animals from going extinct in the first place Molly Hardesty-Moore, ecologist, University of California, Santa Barbara: Don't forget an extinct creature's ecology Alejandro Camacho, legal scholar, University of California, Irvine: Wildlife laws aren't ready for the return of extinct species John Hawks, paleoanthropologist, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Bringing back Neanderthals

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