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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Opening comments - Eighth Vertebrate Pest Conference - and the stability of vertebrate populations in man-modified habitats


In addition to welcoming Conference participants, the author expresses his philosophy of the need for vertebrate pest control activities. Too few people understand that a highly stable animal-plant-soil equilibrium exists where man has not markedly altered the environment. In temperate regions, the balance of nature in natural habitats is little affected even when a large number of individuals of any one or several species of vertebrates are removed by man. The naturally evolved species that are present have acquired great resilience to offset various climatic and other catastrophes. In contrast, the type of habitat modification done by homeowners, farmers, and the like nearly always causes some vertebrates to become pests. Some conservationists, through protectionist zeal founded on ignorance of the population dynamics of vertebrates in altered environments, indirectly force many farmers to practice an undesirable form of biological control of vertebrate pests--clean farming. The farmers cannot afford to keep hedge rows and riparian vegetation because they will foster serious pest problems unless some other control is practiced. At this Conference the speakers will illustrate how they are seeking the most ecologically desirable protection of mankind's food, fiber, and other resources, including wildlife in general. All of the papers will shed light on the role that vertebrate pest control is playing in managing modified environments in perpetuity in a healthy manner.

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