More Unintended Consequences — Endangered Species Edition

Many conservationists around the world favor enacting and enforcing laws to prohibit capturing or killing rare species. Such laws, it turns out, have unintended consequences. Scientific American reports that laws listing species as endangered can transform them into valuable black market commodities. As an example, the article notes that Indonesian government's listing of the Javan hawk eagle as endangered attracted the attention of poachers who had long ignored the bird. According to SciAm:

To celebrate the raptor's official "National Rare/Precious Animal" designation, the Indonesian government printed the Javan hawk eagle's likeness on postage stamps and phone books. Soon zookeepers and illegal pet collectors were clamoring for one of their own, and the birds began popping up for sale in markets around Indonesia. In a study published earlier this year in Oryx, researchers from the University of Amsterdam's zoological museum concluded that ever since the Indonesian government officially labeled Javan hawk eagles as rare and precious, illegal poaching has removed the birds from the wild at an ever-escalating pace. Over the period from 1975 to 1991, just three were sighted for sale in Indonesian markets; in recent years 30 to 40 of the eagles have been spotted in markets annually.

Why does listing as "endangered" further endanger some species? 

Perceived rareness makes animals more appealing to collectors and the increasingly limited supply pushes their price up on the black market, making illegal trapping and hunting more lucrative. Wildlife that once existed under the radar suffers from sudden visibility and faddish appeal. In an ironic coup de grâce, endangered species designation can sometimes escalate poaching to the point that it wipes out the species it was intended to protect.

Then there are the tasty endangered animals. The SciAm article notes that some connoisseurs of rare abalones and turtles find that rarity enhances their flavor.

Of course, listing a species as endangered often has other unintended consequences. In the U.S., the prospect of a listing a new species encourages landowners who fear new restrictions on their property to shoot, shovel, and shut up

Whole ironic SciAm article here

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  • Pop Boner||

    Gawd I want one of those!

  • MNG||

    " laws listing species as endangered can transform them into valuable black market commodities"

    It doesn't create the demand, it just, by boosting the price, incentivizes suppliers. But if a species is endangered the demand itself is a danger.

    I often see people argue that making drugs illegal somehow induces more people to use it because the price goes up and that incentivizes suppliers, but that's crazy. Raising the prices really high makes some people get rich supplying it, and that incentivizes supply, but it also surely lowers demand. I mean, that's pretty basic economics, no?

  • Xeones||

    More like Javan mohawk eagle, am i right? That bird is punk as fuck.

  • Crazy Red-State Guy||

    I'm lookin' to gettin' me one of them Pelosi Birds, for stuffin' and shit.

  • ||

    some connoisseurs of rare abalones and turtles find that rarity enhances their flavor.

    What the hell? Do they smell their own farts, too?

  • ||

    MNG:


    yes to a degree. drugs however are not a rational product as they cause irrational behaviour, so the decrease in demand does not follow the same trend as other commodities do.

    w/ regard to scarcity, it can have an effect on demand as people react differently to the notion of scarcity than the notion of surplus

  • proud libitard||

    MNG,

    I actually believe that making drugs illegal does create users because many of them are kids and they want to know the big deal is and why the drugs are illegal in the first place.

    However, that only flies for the first few times.

    But then again, I'm dumb.

  • ||

    CRSG:


    that pelosi bird is already stuffed full of shit.

  • proud libitard||

    Oh, and shut the fuck up Animal rights fuckheads. Next you'll be telling me health care is a right...

  • ||

    I mean, that's pretty basic economics, no?



    No. As counter-intuitive as it seems, supply creates its own demand. "Supply" is more than just the availablity of a product. It also assumes some level of sales and marketing. So a better rephrasing would be "suppliers create their own demand".

    p.s. Of course, some goods have anti-demand, so that no matter how much is supplied, no one wants it. Turd sandwiches for example.

  • creech||

    Sort of like National Geographic touting, say, Costa Rican rain forests in one issue and then later decrying how increased tourism is destroying the rain forest.

  • ||

    dot fag? really?

  • Fluffy||

    The reason that "Shoot, shovel, and shut up" is a problem is because the endangered species law attempts to achieve a public good [species preservation] but places all of the costs of achieving that good on individual property holders and none on the public.

    That cost/benefit system would have to be completely reversed for the "unintended consequences" effect to go away.

  • ||

    creech = blasphemer! only good can come from well intenders!

  • ||

    true enough fluffy, sad it has to be explained. people will intentionally eradicate wildlife to avoid interaction w/ the federal govt.

  • ||

    Rarity adds value. Awareness of rarity alerts people to the value. Demand rises.

    These are luxury goods for conspicuous consumption. The rational actor guidelines go out the window.

  • Urkobold™||

    INDEED! THE URKOBOLD PAYS TOP DOLLAR FOR THE FLESH OF EX-PRESIDENTS AND OTHER FORMER WORLD LEADERS. MMMM, TASTY.

  • ||

    And don't call that noble bird a Pelosi. It's already going extinct, hasn't it suffered enough?

  • ||

    From the Brickbats:

    The Georgia Department of Natural Resources seized 500 turtles from Steve Santhuff, alleging his possession of them was illegal. A jury ruled in Santhuff's favor and the DNR had to return the turtles to Santhuff. Well, the agency returned some of them. More than 300 of the turtles died while in the agency's possession.

    An isolated incident, I'm sure.

  • highnumber||

    In an ironic coup de grâce, endangered species designation can sometimes escalate poaching to the point that it wipes out the species it was intended to protect.



    I have time to only skim the article, but I did not see any sort of citation for that. Was it there? Did I miss that?

  • Xeones||

    Turd sandwiches for example.

    I don't know, they tend to get an awful lot of votes every four years.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Once again, Reason just doesn't get it. The question isn't whether we need EngangeredSpecies laws or not, it's whether we need any EngangeredSpecies at all. The very fact that they could be considered EngangeredSpecies implies that - in the marketplace of the jungle or whatever habitat they're in - they're losers. Let them go the way of the Dodo and pave the way for new, improved, Monstanto/Dow/DuPont-engineered species that will be better adapted to their environments.

    Note: this comment was not sponsored by Monstanto/Dow/DuPont, but if they want to send me money that would be great.

  • Xeones||

    Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko. And bring my a taco.

  • ||

    It doesn't create the demand, it just, by boosting the price, incentivizes suppliers.

    Did you read the post, MNG?

    Soon zookeepers and illegal pet collectors were clamoring for one of their own,

  • Xeones||

    Bring me, a taco, obviously. A real one. made by MEXICANS.

  • Xeones||

    I am having trouble typing this afternoon, goddamn.

  • MNG||

    Did you read the post, MNG?

    I don't need to read the post, shitbrains.

  • ||

    I have always found that endangered species barbeque a bit better than the more common kind.

  • ||

    Rarity adds value. Awareness of rarity alerts people to the value. Demand rises.

    These are luxury goods for conspicuous consumption. The rational actor guidelines go out the window.


    Ding ding ding.
    We have a winner.

    My painting are even rarer than Jackson Pollock's. They display just as much talent but becuase nobody knows about them, nobody wants them.

    That said, I don't think that endangered species protection needs to be abolished. Reformed certainly, but I'm onboard with outlawing the taking of endangered species for personal gain.

  • Neu Mejican||

    To celebrate the raptor's official "National Rare/Precious Animal" designation, the Indonesian government printed the Javan hawk eagle's likeness on postage stamps and phone books.

    This seems to indicate that the unintended consequences came not from the designation, but from the advertising campaign, no?

    This does not mean that the general problem that Ron hints at is not real, but in this particular case, it sounds like the problem lies with the wide-spread advertising that "we have a cool looking rare bird in our country."

  • Tricky Prickears||

    Was there ever a demand for American Bald Eagles, Red Tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcons or Ospreys ?

  • ||

    Tricky: Actually in the past many state governments offered bounties for killing hawks and eagles as vermin. So, yes.

  • ||

    Was there ever a demand for American Bald Eagles, Red Tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcons or Ospreys ?
    Yes.

    Rich countries are better able to deal with these miscreants than poor countries. Indonesia presents apecial difficulties being an archipelago with many unique habitats and rare species.

  • ||

    is MNG being spoofed?

  • ||

    Tricky:

    Yes indeed, my father-in-law owned a pet hawk in the Bad Old Days before raptors were protected.

    And then there's always the legions of white Wannabees who desire genuine eagle feathers to attach to the made-in-Hong Kong dreamcatcher on their living room wall.

  • ||

    Holly: carbine or rifle?

  • Tricky Prickears||

    Tricky: Actually in the past many state governments offered bounties for killing hawks and eagles as vermin. So, yes.

    Yeah, but they weren't on the ESL then, were they? It wasn't until DDT that they were placed on the list.

    And I guess the roundabout point I was trying to make was it (being placed on the ESL) didn't seem to effect their reintroduction into areas like mine: Southern NJ. My state went to great lengths to reintroduce these birds, with amazing success, I just can't imagine anyone wanting to fuck with any of these birds, not even the reddest of rednecks from Fairton, NJ. In fact, I'm sure you'd get a firm ass beating and arrested if you were caught by anyone in NJ messing with these birds. Now, the Canada Geese, that's a different story.

  • MNG||

    "It also assumes some level of sales and marketing."

    Yeah, all that marketing by drug lords and sellers of crushed rhino horn...

    RC
    Being put on the list did not create the rarity that would spur zoo-keepers and pet owners. It just recognized it.

    ransom
    Yes, that was a spoof.

  • Hacha Cha||

    of course the price goes up, any product will raise in price if it goes from being sold legally to being sold on the black market. however, the demand probably does go up because buyers of endangered species likely seek them because of their rarity.

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  • Cactus||

    I live on a farm which hosts at least 4 types of animals and plants which are on my state's endangered species list. I'm sure that biologists would not only love to study them or at least count them especially since one of the species is well outside of its known range. Given the consequences of telling the state those species exist on my land there is no way I'm telling them. As they say, I'd like to avoid any Imperial entanglements. They'd be meddling in the way I run and use my land in no time. You can't plow here. You can't have cattle there. You can't drive equipment over there. You can't have a stream crossing. You can't clear land. You can't cut that tree.

    No thanks.

    I just read up as much as I can and protect and encourage the species in question as I see fit and keep it to myself.

  • noam||

    The question is not whether placing an animal on the list creates (or increases) demand. It's also not so obvious that hindsight would have predicted or helped hinder the "unintended consequences".

    Too many factors play a part: rarity, severity of punishment, general measure of adherence of the population to the law, cultural attitudes to animals and endangered species, religious attitudes (e.g., monkeys and cows in India) and per capita income, just to name a few.

    The question is whether the INTENDED consequences of protecting an animal outweigh the UNINTENDED consequences, for the animal, the environment, the economy.

    In the US, intended consequences include physical protection (not just on the books), severe crimes for violation, additional funding, pro-active assistance in reintroducing and re-breeding endangered species, setting up protected regions, etc. For the most part, and despite illegal poaching, the US program has been a success.

    So if Indonesia can put their money where their mouth is, the intended consequences minus the unintended consequences should end up in favor of the bird. Right now, the ball is in the Indonesian government's hands.

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