[Tweeters] Introduced Species

SGMlod at aol.com SGMlod at aol.com
Sun Apr 9 17:24:23 PDT 2006

Greetings All

Well, I said I wasn't going to say anything more, but I guess I will. I can
understand Gene's points, and he is dead on.

The discussion, however, has once again been deflected from its orginal
point. I don't think anyone has promoted actually introducing new species. Rather,
the original question has been something of the nature of "Do we remove
blackberries and Russian olive and Eurasian Milfoil wherever we find it?" It is a
discussion of what to do about well-established species that are here, have been
here for some time, and actually become part of the ecosystem. Repeatedly,
folks who point out the negative side of these species while failing to
acknowledge the positive, and act as if we could actually eliminate these species. I
guess one could have the same argument about cottonwoods vs willows and argue
we should destroy one because the other is better. The thing is, they are all
here, they are all actually contributing something to our state's wildlife

Someone challenged Mike Denny's commentary about species dependent on Russian

This is a very easy thing to test (of course, one could argue endlessly about
what "dependent" means). Actually, many of the species that fancy Russian
Olive also like apple orchards (another native habitat, of course).

Mike and I will choose a nice stretch of Russian Olive, such as near "Birders
Corner" or in the past we could have gone to Wahluke. The challengers can go
anywhere they want that is a native habitat devoid of Russian Olive, Himalayan
Blackberry, and apple orchards.

And then we will compare counts of Hermit Thrushes, Varied Thrushes, American
Robins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos,
Townsend's Solitaires, Bewick's Wren, Northern Flickers. I am sure I am spacing
on a couple other species that are somewhat dependent on this habitat.

In any case, our counts would double yours in pretty much all these species.
For some our counts would probably be one-two orders of magnitude higher.

Not that these species are more important than the Golden-crowned Kinglets
and other species you'll find more abundantly elsewhere. But this is a response
to the questioner. There are some species that would virtually disappear from
e. WA if it weren't for Russian Olive groves (especially if you took the fruit
orchards out, too).

So, this is back to the main points.

1) Russian Olives are not the Beelzebub, despite websites devoted to making
one think so. They provide high quality habitat for a fairly diverse group of
birds (and I suspect other vertebrates -- saw a porcupine in a pretty solid
stand of olive the other day). This is NOT saying they are BETTER than various
native habitats, but that they have value and exist in places where native
species would not. Removing them from THESE PLACES is harmful to overall NATIVE
bird numbers and DIVERSITY, because doing so removes a valuable (as in, highly
utilized) food source.

2) Russian Olives are here to stay. I think eliminating them totally is
unrealistic. Do you spend an enormous amount of money trying to exterminate them
from everywhere? Do you go into highly altered habitats full of birds, remove
the Russian Olive and leave native Rabbit Brush behind, with virtually no birds
using it? Or do you use that money and man power to save intact native
habitats or restore those that are restorable (whatever that really means.....that's
a whole 'nother debate, because what most of us think of "natural" North
America, ain't.).

Steven Mlodinow

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