Farm Weka in order to save them?

An enterprising farmer, Roger Beattie, is proposing that he should be allowed to farm Weka (and presumably Kiwi, etc), for sale to be eaten. Apparently “weka [were] delicious, and made chicken look bland and greasy in comparison.”

That’s all well and good. Maybe they do taste good and maybe there would be a market for them, and maybe it would increase (captive) Weka numbers. Maybe they’ll even submit to sitting in a nice cage, like chickens…

But what I find a bit laughable is Roger’s assertion that farming Weka would benefit the species and save them from extinction:

If we want to make sure wekas are not threatened or endangered we should farm the lot because no farm species has ever died out.

Yeah, that’s worked really well for wolves. They became domesticated, and now there are wolves everywhere! Right? No, actually. Wolves are very endangered in most parts of the world, while a shadow of their former selves do pretty well as dogs.

Imagine this: We set out to farm Weka, so someone makes an inventory of all the wild Weka and chooses a (sub) species that look especially tasty or large or whatever other criteria we prefer. All the other species of Weka get left to go extinct, and may even find that their habitat is reduced to make room for the farmed Weka. We then breed millions of our selected Weka, and over time we favour the traits that make them more suitable to us – bigger breasts, more eggs(??), docile behaviour, tastier meat while eliminating the traits that make them ‘wild’ – aggressive, curious, adaptable, fast runners, loud cries to communicate, whatever. The species changes and becomes weak, they pick up parasites from other farm species, they start to require antibiotics and so on.

Look around you at other domesticated species. Bulldogs that can barely breath, Sheep with so much wool that their shit gets caught in it (leading to death from flies), Alsations with back legs that barely work and vegetables that require daily defence lest they be overrun by wild plants. None of these animals bear any resemblance to the species they are descended from. Do you think your white floppy eared rabbit would survive for 5 minutes in the wild? Does it even know how to have babies without leaving them to starve (ours didn’t. Then some dogs ate it)?

One day we find that we haven’t saved Weka, we’ve enslaved a slow, obese, lazy and dependent decendent of what used to be Wekas.

So sure, go ahead and farm them for their meat if you must (think of the children economy!), but don’t pretend you’re doing the Weka or biodiversity a favour by doing so.

51 thoughts on “Farm Weka in order to save them?

  1. Man I could really go for a dodo leg right now with some dodo eggs sunny side up. Hah. But seriously give man control of a species or move us nearby and we’re sure to screw something up right? It’s human nature to screw things up.

  2. Greenfly,

    Our species has brought great destruction to this world’s habitats and I see little hope that full destruction of these habitats will be averted. Humans are simply too myopic. The climate will change, the humans will survive, but that which can not survive in the new world will not survive at all unless they can justify their existence to humans. Unless the value of their retention exceeds the costs.

    Creatures such as the Weka are of value to humanity in their ability to inspire, but ultimately that is of a limited value. When tourism dries up there will be little justification for a program of conservation. If the Weka can not be made more valuable to humanity then they will die out. Farming is one of the only ways that their value can be increased, even if the resultant birds are pathetic remnants of their past selfs, it is still the survival of the lineage and must surely be favorable to complete annihilation.

    Weka are still standard animals. So long as we store their genetic data we can recreate them should the need arise or our environment be recreated. What we really need is a full genetic census, the sooner the better. There is little other hope for the species.

  3. Kevin – try to see it from a meat-eaters point of view –

    thousands of dim-eyed weka in a shed, stumbling about on their massively over-bred thighs, beaks trimmed off ‘for their own protection’, doubtless with a tyre or colourful plastic ball from the Warehouse, hanging on a rope for them to ‘play’ with.

    We’re a glorious species, homo exploitus .

  4. Thanks for posting on this Frog. I’ve been out of touch for a few days, but otherwise would have done so myself.

    For me the point of conservation is to preserve biodiversity and intact ecosystems. Occasionally it may be necessary to breed a species and build numbers outside its natural environment, but this surely must be with a view to re-establishing them in their natural habitat. From this point of view, then, the key question to ask is whether farming weka would improve their survival in the wild. It is not obvious to me how this would occur. It would be helpful for proponents of weka farming to provide some examples of animals in a similar position to weka that have succeeded and thrived in the wild because of the introduction of farming.

    To me, in addition to the concerns about what exactly would be preserved (if something is) as a result of new selection pressures, it seems likely that the threat to weka in the wild would increase, rather than decrease. Consider it: for weka farming to be successful then killing and eating weka would need to be legalised (it already is on the Chathams, hence this guy having tried the meat) and a culture created in which it would be considered acceptable to do so. Surely this will create incentives to hunt weka? And for those unfamiliar with the behaviour of weka, hunting them would be a simple matter: sit in a clearing with a sandwich and a bag.

    I was interested to see Shunda’s comment about weka being on the increase where he lives. Where I am, to the South of Greymouth, my sense is that weka numbers are actually decreasing. Both of our perceptions could be correct, in fact, because weka populations seem pretty volatile. They can breed prolifically if conditions are favourable, but they can also decline rapidly. Overall, of course, they are declining, and I often think of Golden Bay, where weka were numerous up until the 1970s, but in a couple of decades have disappeared altogether.

    So I’m skeptical about the “farming will help conservation” claim, but interested to see if there is evidence. However, if this proved to be true, surely the other necessary question is whether this is an acceptable or the best way to do this. We have actually had a pretty good record in recent decades of finding ways to increase populations of threatened birds. Is there any reason why these wouldn’t be preferred to farming, even if this were helpful?

    I am hesitant about my own response to the acceptability of weka farming. As a vegetarian I really don’t want to see another species added to the list of those killed for food (and I fully accept that mine is a minority position), but there also seems to me to be something repugnant about killing our native birds. There might be an economic dimension to that too – every tourist I have ever met has loved their encounters with weka – not sure they will be positive about seeing them for sale in the supermarket. However, for the most part I own my emotional basis for thinking – feeling? -that farming weka is unacceptable: it’s just wrong.

  5. Briefly (going to cook dinner)
    RE: Dr Baker
    Go to
    http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/content/_archive/tr127.pdf
    He does exist and so does Zero Till.
    extract:
    The itinerary was largely centred around the Agrisystems Cross Slot® seeder developed
    by Dr John Baker and co-workers at the then Agricultural Machinery Research Centre at
    Massey University, New Zealand. Efforts by the Fellow to evaluate the Cross Slot®
    openers in Western Australia in 1989 were unsuccessful, because Agrisystems Inc. had
    just bought the patents, and the openers were therefore temporarily unavailable.
    Subsequent interest has culminated in the purchase of the first commercially-produced
    Cross Slot® seeders in the world by three Western Australian farmers in 1992. The
    Fellow intends to continue close liaison with these and other no-tillage farmers and with
    personnel involved in comprehensive agronomic trials carried out within the Department
    of Agriculture.

  6. Hi Owen,

    Interesting and potentially ironic.

    I don’t feel more informed about soil-carbon effects of fertilisers, but that can wait.

    It’s a pity that Shrub stalled DSCOVR
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Space_Climate_Observatory
    and that it isn’t yet available to measure this.

    The your source 2:
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/pr/98/19406.html
    has some caveats:
    – subject to confirmation
    – not yet published in Nature
    – all of these mechanisms are temporary
    – may not be representative of [other time] periods

    Do you have a view on the current state of the science around these caveats?

    I’ve found something with the same title and date as your source 3, through a subscription to VUW library. Unfortunately, there seems to be only one reference to “rangelands soil carbon”, and no reference to “Zero-Till” or “John Baker”, so I cannot confirm the third paragraph in your quote. Please explain and, if necessary, correct.

    Temporarily taking the IPCC CO2 target as given, it strikes me that (at least) prairie CO2 absorption has been going on between 1970 and 2008, while CO2 measured at Hawaii has been cycling around a rising trend, so, if the net absorption of the pre-existing American land-use sinks is allowed, then the total required absorption increases. What do you think?

    When you say “the hypothesis of dangerous Anthropogenic Global Warming”, does that come with an opinion about an appropriate maximum level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and if so, what is that level?

  7. Greenfly,

    The species shapes its environment. The environment as a whole may no longer be conductive of the species but it can survive in a niche created by itself; any symbiotes may find they too have a niche created for them.

    Humans can survive without the Weka, but the Weka will die out very quickly with the extinction of humans. Accepting that climate change will happen, the only hope of the Weka is with humans. Assuming that human efforts will be fought by the changing environment, there will be very little energy given to the preservation of the wilds. Farming may be the only hope the Weka has, for if climate change happens (and it is hardly an if anymore) then the species threatened by invasive pests will disappear while our attention is averted.

  8. So in a way your paper is saying its the spin that is most important? We shouldn’t focus on the methane, rather we should focus on sequestration because it makes us look better and besides no-one else is owning up to the methane angle (perhaps because they don’t want to look bad or incur the extra cost either)?

    You say that NZ can do little to change the climate, but its exactly this fatalistic approach that provides the encouragement for larger producers of greenhouse gases to ignore the problem as well. Afterall, they might say, NZ is a responsible and environmentally conscious nation and they aren’t curbing their emissions, why should we?

  9. Greenfly
    There is no “state of nature” so there is no “natural pasture” so I cannot comment.
    Suggest you read “Nature’s Keepers – the New Science of Nature Management” by Stephen Budianski.
    The other related myth is that there is some balance of nature and that nature is naturally static.
    In fact nature is is a state of deterministic chaos and is nowhere never in a state of equilibrium.
    We were taught at school that you get a balance between two fish species in a pond because big fish eat little fish until they reach equilibrium. But in real life there are a multitude of competing species and indeed it takes only three to mean the biosystem is in a state of deterministic chaos and hence the populations will swing around the “attractor”. Hence epidemics and extinctions. They are natural and we are part of that nature. The selfish gene does not care about your preference to wild wolves over dogs – the selfish gene just keeps working towards breeding more dogs that can fill more and more gaps in human territory.

    The dog genes are not well served by our stupid interbreeding of small populations of pure breds. It’s just dumb as Vincent Gray observes.

    And jc2, most of the carbon capture is in the roots and surrounding microfauna. Hence Dyson’s statement “It’s roots – not shoots.”

  10. jc2
    It is not just fertilizer, the pasture management involves proper water balance, and trace element management and so on. I was pleased to be involved in the development and commercialisation of the Zero Till technology by Dr Baker at Massey University which is making such an impact on pasture management in the US.
    Probably the best way to link you to this area is my submission to the ETS select committee (as requested by Dr Huchinson) and which I understand gave some impetus to the Agricultural Global Alliance proposal at Copenhagen which turns out to be the only useful thing to have come out of Copenhagen.
    Go to: http://www.rmastudies.org.nz/issues/42-climate-change-and-the-kyoto-protocol/351-ets-further-submission-crmst
    Or for the pdf:
    http://www.rmastudies.org.nz/documents/ETSNewDirections.pdf

  11. Owen – your ‘well managed pasture’ is superior to ‘natural pasture’ in what way?

    (Are you thinking ‘fossil-fuel-free’ pasture?)

  12. Owen – More methane emissions perhaps? or the environmental impacts of clearing scrub for pasture or sheep-to-dairy conversions?

  13. Black robins seem to be doing alot better than in the 1980s despite their rather limited gene pool.

    But there’s not much meat on them, and there will never be a positive commercial return in farming, so why bother? Perhaps they’re worth preserving because of their contribution to the identity of the Chatham Islands?

  14. Owen, can we have some links for that, and how it relates to adding various fertilisers, please?

    I’m asking because I would expect that most fertilisers remove bottle-necks, which enables more of the soil carbon to be turned into grass, but that’s a guess based on very little chemistry and biology.

  15. AD
    Why not?
    Agriculture is a major carbon sink.
    Well managed pasture is one of the best of all, especially if the pasture is perennial.

  16. Here is another side of the argument.
    ARE ALL “ENDANGERED SPECIES” DOOMED?

    Wikipedia at

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incest

    tells us

    “Most societies have prohibitions against incest. The incest taboo is and has been one of the most common of all cultural taboos, both in current nations and many past societies, with legal penalties imposed in some jurisdictions. Most modern societies have legal or social restrictions on closely consanguineous marriages.Most societies have prohibitions against incest”.

    Most ancient societies learned the hard way that encouragement for reproduction between closely related partners led to deformity and infertility, and if persisted with, extinction.

    Sigmund Freud devoted the First Chapter of “Totem and Taboo” to a discussion of “The Savage’s Dread of Incest”.. Modern evolutionary theory has shown how genetic defects can build up to disastrous proportions from offspring of close sexual partners. The main evolutionary reason for the very existence of sex is that it makes possible gene diversity in offspring

    The Egyptian royal family died out because it was founded on incest. In our first biology lessons we learn how the offspring of Queen Victoria, mated for political reasons to close relatives, played an important part in the downfall of the monarchy in several countries from the transmission of the benetic defect, hemophilia. Some religious sects or exclusive communities are declining for similar reasons.

    Yet hybrid vigour, which is so undoubtedy superior. is so often frowned upon, or even forbidden. for national or social reasons. Race laws in the United States, Germany and South Africa and restrictive social customs in Moslem countries and in India can only lead to decline in vigour. .

    The same principle applies throughout the organic world, but its application is frustrated by the persistent attempts to try and prevent evolution from happening. Many people and even some biologists today regard a “species” as something which must be prevemted from changing, at all costs. Any such attempt is bound to lead, eventually, to failure, from the inevitable build up of genetic defects.

    These thoughts were sparked by a recent Documentary Channel programme on domestic dogs. It showed that efforts to preserve many “breeds” of dogs are failing miserably. The “Best in Show” is now often hopelessly defective. Owners who buy pedigree dogs are finding that the vet bills have escalated and that the life span of their pets has fallen. There were disturbing scenes of pedigree dogs with such ailments as epilepsy, blindness, and distorted limbs.

    The obliviousness of the judges at dog shows was amazing. They continued to give prizes to animals that could hardly walk. They approved father-daughter, brother-sister matings as the only way the purity of the breed could be sustained.

    It has long been obvious to farmers that failure to hybridize successful plants or animals can be disastrous when a psrticular pest comes along. The Irish potato famine ocurred from one strain of potato,. The collapse of the French wine industry in the late 19th century from phylloxera is another example. Our biosecurity is continually under threat

    We live in a society where successful oganisms are often discriminated against as “exotic” or even “pests”, whereas unsucessful organisms are declared to be “endangered” and are lavished with money and care in an effort to prevent decline. But it is neceassry to question whether the entirely natural process of species departure can really be reversed at all, any more than you can stop the disappearance of the British Bulldog.

    Darwin wrote his “Descent of Man” beause he realised that this was the most controversial aspect of his evolutionary theory and he just had to say something about it despite his absence of knowledge of early human fossils. But he got distracted. Some two thirds of the book is devoted to sexual selection, where he liiustrated the many instances where the characteristics of offspring are detemined more by male display than by the final ability to withstand environmental challenge. He did not exactly say so, but the implication was that such an emphasis must lead to ultimate extinction as practical “fitness” has been replaced by marital exhibition.

    There are no brightly coloured parrots on New Zealand. The reason, surely, is that if there were any they could not survive our predators. In Australia and in South America brightly coloured parrots must surely be under threat.Their only future is as human pets.

    This is true of many of the creatures that have been characterised as “endangered”. If they have reached the stage when their gene veriability is already low, then no amount of father-daughter or brother-sister mating is likely to halt ultimate decline, however much money is spent. Genetic engineering may find ways of extending genetic variety, but the outside world has the habit of springing on us unexpected surprises for which we may not have genetic immunity, however hard we try.

    Many “endangered” species are already on the road to becoming human pets or inhabitants of zoos or “wildlife parks”, dependent upon our money to protect them for predators. famine and diseases, for which they are becoming incapable of protecting themselves without us. Only very few have been successfully released into :the wild”. It was interested to hear that some Kiwis are having a hard time with the drought. They seem toi have survived many past droughts: why does this one bother them?

    Cheers

    Vincent Gray
    75 Silverstream Road
    Crofton Downs
    Wellington 6035
    Phone/Fax 064 4 9735939
    “To kill an error is as good a service
    as, and sometimes better than, the
    establishing of a new truth or fact”
    Charles Darwin”

  17. Sapient – if a form has adapted to an environment that requires a narrow band of cliamtic conditions and the support of fertilizers, herbacides, anthelmintics etc. that are derived from oil, then I would hold great fears for it’s ability to survive a ‘new environment’, especially one that involves drought and the cessation of oil based products.

    Old forms of plant (weeds) and animals (pests) should do very well from that collapse.

  18. Greenfly,

    Breed or die out. Those are the two options availible to life. Genes are lost constantly in evolutionary development, though many more simply become inactive or mutated. Many of the genes would remain the same, only a very small minority would change. When faced with extinction that is desirable.

    The domestic cat is so little varied from its wild form that they can still interbred easily. Yet its self-domestication has seen it become incredibly prolific.

    Things evolve to suit their environment. Humans are part of the environment. With the coming climate change, which will survive better? An old form poorly adapted to its old environment and even more poorly to its new environment or a species which has learned to exploit another species for all which it needs where that species will continue.

  19. Conservation of some genes at the expense of many others.
    I’d prefer that pastoral farmers weren’t the decision-makers when it comes to what should flourish and what should be sidelined/extinguished.
    Been on a farm lately, Sapient? Biodiversity is barely in evidence at all. 2010 is the Year of Biodiversity, hope no representatives visit our dairy farms.

  20. What is a creature? A species is constantly changing, no generation is identical to the last. They all change and those that fail to adapt die out. A species can only really be viewed as its constituent genes rather than any particular for or genome. Farming, though the form of the creature may change, preserves the vast majority of the genes. It is, in a very real sense, conservation.

  21. “No one owns the fish. That is the problem”

    How often do you see NZ enforce its territorial jurdistiction against illegal foreign fishing now? Are you saying that fish ownership would somehow change this, improve on the quota system and benefit the conservation of species that contribute to the diversity of the marine ecosystem but aren’t commercially attractive?

    Afterall in your own words: “If a species has no value to a farmer (or fisherman) and its invading his land or eating his animals don’t be surprised if he has an interest in seeing it disappear.”

    But back to the subject of weka, if they were farmed commercially what would the effects of that be on the conservation of wild populations? It would create a further headache for enforcement surely, someone would have to actually be caught in the act hunting them for a prosecution to stick.

    And what about the diversity of sub-species among weka? Why would a farmer bother with the species that weren’t optimal? And over time isn’t it likely that characteristics that make them suitable for farming, be selected in favour of those which enable them to survive in the wild?

    Commercial enterprise has done more for the diversity and advancement of pesticides than for the diversity of corn or bananas.

  22. Owen – the hunter-gatherers that caused the extinction of the moa were but farmers in the making. Farmers have selected some animals that they can profit from and proceeded to try to exterminate anything that threatens those few species. I’m thinking of the importation of the manuka blight from Australia in order to rid farmland of our native manuka. Shameful action by farmers. It may be true that farmers haven’t completely extinguished a species, despite their desire to do so, but it’s more a matter of the resiliance of those species that came under the farmers ‘gun’, than any thoughtfulness or mercy shown by farmers.
    Tutu, any one? Have you seen a lot of peripatus out on the farmland lately? Many arboreal gecko? Kakapo? Pekapeka?
    I certainly agree that the megafaunal extinctions can’t be blamed on the modern-day farmers, but only because they had already gone. I can’t imagine the farmers of Australia ignoring a giant kangaroo and it’s voracious appetite, given that they shoot ordinary roos now.
    Farmers will wipe out pests – or at least the organisms they consider to be pests and those will generally be threats to the farm economy. Sometimes of course, they do it thoughtlessly and without good reason. There is little good reason why there could not be hedgerows across our New Zealand farm landscape. But there is not. Farmers lack the depth of understanding to include such things in their farm design.

  23. Greenfly,
    Name the species that farmers have driven to extinction compared to the species driven to extinction by the earlier hunter gatherers. Twelve species of Moa to start with.
    All the great megafaunal extinctions were caused by hunter gatherers – not farmers.
    Farmers will wipe out pests. That is why we have the conservation estate. To some extent of course they are breeding grounds for the pests the farmers have to keep wiping out – the possum comes to mind.

  24. FIshing is not farming.
    No one owns the fish.
    That is the problem.
    But when Mr Beattie farms paua in tanks on his land he does not “Fish them out” but manages them sustainably – one case where the word actually means something.

  25. James wrote: “Its not rocket science…..if a species has value to someone it will be bred and thrive….if it don’t it won’t.”

    That’s not compatible with our experience of sea fishing. Newfoundland needed cod on the Grand Banks in order to remain an independent nation, and fished them out anyway.

  26. It may do James, for some, but I had to collect myself after being reminded of all of those things that have disappeared from our landscape,
    because farmers have dealt, accordingly, with so many things they regard as pests. So. Many. Things.

  27. James wrote: “Its not rocket science…..if a species has value to someone it will be bred and thrive….if it don’t it won’t.”

    no, it doesn’t follow that it will thrive just because it has value to people. Some animals just don’t do well in captivity, or don’t reproduce fast enough.

  28. Personally I think the purest form of sustainability is when you are using local resources in a responsible way, possibly including weka.
    There should be no moral issue with with farming suitable native wildlife. It would however be immoral to require other nations to sustainably manage their natural resources while we elevate ours to idol worship status.
    We need to look at things like this in an unemotional way.

    And as a point of interest, Weka numbers are exploding on the Coast, no body seems sure as to exactly why but they are everywhere, even creeping into the urban environment.
    They are very aggressive birds, a friend watched as a pair killed a nearly full grown chicken and dragged it into the bush right in front of him, they are also known to kill kittens and pretty much anything else that moves.

  29. James said:

    “But to farmers they are a pest and get dealt to accordingly.Things balance out.”

    I had to go and lie down.

  30. Its not rocket science…..if a species has value to someone it will be bred and thrive….if it don’t it won’t.

    “Yeah, that’s worked really well for wolves. They became domesticated, and now there are wolves everywhere! Right? No, actually. Wolves are very endangered in most parts of the world, while a shadow of their former selves do pretty well as dogs.”

    What a supid comment….see above.Wolves have value to somne people and they rear them accordingly.But to farmers they are a pest and get dealt to accordingly.Things balance out.

  31. I think you’ll find the main reason why farmed species don’t go extinct is that the species most in danger of going extinct (slow to mature, only lay one egg a year, don’t breed well in captivity, highly susceptible to pathogens) can’t be successfully domesticated, so creatures like Kakapo can never become farmed species in the first place.

  32. Frog – an even greater irony than farming animals to save them, is hunting them to save them.

    There is Safari Park after Safari Park in Southern Africa who have put more resources and money into wildlife survival than some governments have done.

    They breed and stock their hunting ranches, so there are vast properties carrying large numbers of wildlife where previously there had been nothing.

    A lot of people don’t agree with the ethics, but there are many cases where making a species valuable to hunters has led to large increase in the numbers of that species.

    You might find it “laughable” that farming an animal can save it from extinction. Laugh all you like, because it’s actually already happening with farming for hunters.

  33. Well, the human animal, bred under today’s conditions, is a little different than the wild human animal of ten thousand years ago. Some might say less physically robust. Fatter, perhaps. Many specimens only exist because they are surrounded by medical technology and an agreeable, regular food supply.

    Not a bad thing. They last longer.

    They might have been hardier out in the wild. Or they may not have existed.

  34. Their are millions of dogs.
    And they know their ancestors made a wise choice in becoming symbiotic with humans.
    One trick was they learned to smile (wolves can’t) and have been smiling ever since.

    We have serious interbreeding here in NZ which is why I have always raised mongrels -but with known lines.

    Species are changing and going extinct all the time. Anyhow read Pollan’s “the Botany of Desire” and learn how certain plants have learned the benefits of being desired by humans and hence flourish around the globe.
    Apples, (cider) potatoes (survived the LIA), tulips (attractive), marijuana (cool). Symbiosis is a common evolutionary adaptation. Think of all those bugs in your intestines. We give them a good home and they help us digest and keep out dangerous ones. And think of the rumen microbes.
    Just about every species is host to some other. The trick is not to kill the host – or it was until humans started living at high densities and one could afford to kill your host because you leap to another. Rather like being a film star in Hollywood where serial monogomy is sustainable.

  35. BluePeter – speak for yourself – I’m from Na’vi stock myself.

    (Your blueness must instead point to insufficient oxygen, BluePeter?

    Breathe deeply!

  36. Any by the way Beattie’s work in conservation and breeding birds in the wild is excellent.
    One reason he has problems with DOC is that in many cases he done what they said could not be done.

    He also developed the technology for farming paua in tanks for export and that takes the pressure of the wild stock.

    REad Hartley’s book on our natural heritage and how Doc has destroyed hundreds of eggs of kiwi and the like rather than handed them over to private landowners to raise. One justification was the competition would reduce the sale price of species they sold to zoos . Especially Tuatara.

  37. If we want to make sure wekas are not threatened or endangered we should farm the lot because no farm species has ever died out.

    Hmmm… Wasn’t there some doco on TV a while ago about one of Jamie O’s mates trying to save some pig species from extinction… domesticated, farmed, species that farmers moved away from because they weren’t as profitable? I’m also fairly sure there are a dozen or so species of cattle that were common in the 19th centuary that no longer exist now.

    Anyway, offering of farm a wild species in order to save them is the most stupid argument I’ve heard since someone said putting microchips in dogs would reduce dog attacks!

    Now when can I get a McWeka combo? mmmmmm :)

  38. Farmed animals do not go extinct. Just as plants don’t go extinct once they are bred in nurseries.
    The most at risk species in NZ are owned by DOC because they are owned by DOC.
    And you do not need to farm animals just to eat them.
    We could farm tuatara for export and guatantee their survival.
    The Australians have woken up to this.
    Their promotion of bush tucker in their tourist restaurants has saved may animals and insects from extinction. IF a species has no value to a farmer and it is invading his land or eating his animals don’t be surprised if he has an interest in seeing it disappear.
    But make crocodile meat a menu item and make witchety grubs fashionable and suddenly they flourish.

    But it seems for some people their motto is “Better dead than bred”.

  39. BluePeter wins the ‘dimmest bulb’ award for his ‘humans’ comment!

    ( “Well deserved”, the crowd murmers )

  40. Like, oh, say humans you mean?

    If we were left in the wild, we’d look and act a bit different too.
    Many of us wouldn’t have survived, of course.

    Who’s to say the farmed weka wouldn’t be fitter, healthier and stronger?

  41. Don’t forget the Auroch, the ancestor of the domestic cow. Where is it now? Extinct of course.

    Beattie should be slapped down immediately by the environment minister, but where is he? Trying to get a new road built slap bang through the middle of NZ’s best community (it won the award two days ago).

  42. Ohh Frog….I feel dirty, I feel unwashed, you could say I feel a bit Nandor.

    I completely agree with you on this.

  43. Good post Frog – the ‘farm them to save them’ argument always makes me laugh, wryly.
    With birds, it’s a matter of egg-production as well. Chickens lay willy-nilly, Kiwi lay one a year.

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