To all of you who are leading an omnivorous, carnivorous, herbivorous (…) life. Have you heard about the invasivores? People who believe that they can reduce the impact of harmful invasive species by eating them.
One of these invasivores has just written a book about his hunting and cuisine adventures: Jackson Landers, Eating aliens. One man`s adventures hunting invasive animal species.
I do not have the book at my disposal, but had one quick look at some preview pages provided by amazon. There I stumbled upon this paragraph: “It`s easy to shrug and say the problem is so big, the numbers of starlings and carp so great, that humans couldn´t possibly get rid of them all. But consider that human beings have historically succeeded in eliminating animals in such numbers. Recklessly, we´ve driven many formerly plentiful species to extinction or to extirpation from a section of their range. The difference is motivation, not capability.” Like for other global man-made problems the management of invasive species is lack of motivation, not capability. However, the management of invasive species stands out because humans have proven in the past that they are able to drive species to extinction through hunting, whereas to my knowledge we have never proven that we are able to redistribute food and resources across the globe in a equitable manner.
If you are interested in Landers book, Sara E. Kuebbing and colleagues have published a comprehensive review (Kuebbing et al. 2013, Biological Invasions) and I will just summarize their pros and cons.
-the book educates the reader about each species´ introduction history and the ecological impact of each invasive animal.
-it will serve as important education for readers unfamiliar with the issue of invasive species.
-the actual cooking and eating receive much less attention than the chase, and given the ostensible goals of the book, the imbalance may help motivate some hunters to chase invasives but will not help bring connoisseurs and chefs into the fold.
-some invasive species were in fact introduced to serve as a food source, and because of the negligible appetite for these species they were left to spread.
-ubiquitous doesn´t mean easy to hunt. It takes more than a few weekend-hunting tourist to decimate invasive populations.
– once an invasivore movement creates viable job opportunities, will these same hunters be willing to walk away from their livelihood as populations decline?
-most hunters do not want to eradicate entire populations, because what would be left to hunt?