Photo: Curtis Fry under a Creative Commons license.
Invasive species can be seen in two ways: as winning the struggle for life by out-evolving competing species, or as upsetting a precarious balance of biodiversity. The United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Invasive Species Program has decided on the latter in the case of invasive lake trout in Yellowstone National Park, and it's taking unusual steps to combat the dominance of the fish. Scientists are implanting radio transmitters in the fish and tracking them to their spawning grounds. The goal: destroy their eggs and the future of the species in the area, the New York Times reported.Invasive species can be cute and lovable, but they can also trigger mass extinctions. The lake trout are slated for decimation because they eat native cutthroat trout. But the issue goes beyond the battle of trout: cutthroats, which spawn in shallow water and streams, make up a large part of the diets of the grizzly bears, eagles, martens and other animals in the region.
The lake trout breed in deep lake water, and so avoid the jaws of land and air predators. The USGS is taking the battle to their home territory, and using the lake trout themselves as agents against their own species. The Invasive Species team hopes to find the eggs of the lake trout and kill them before they hatch in massive numbers, through electricity or suction.
But dealing with invasive species inevitably involves killing animals, or their unborn offspring. So, how many lake trout deaths justify the life of the cutthroat trout and the animals they feed? It's a hard call to make, if you decide that humans are in the right making the call in the first place.
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More on invasive species:
10 Invasive Species that Changed the World Forever (Slideshow)
Invasivores Take a Bite Out of Lionfish (and Other Invasive Species)
Invasive Species a Growing Problem in Antarctica