Essentially, scientists are rethinking a very basic tenet of modern conservation. These scientists believe that the threat of climate change is so great that it trumps every effort we've made to keep invasive species out of areas where they have never been.
The answer to my question in the headline is thus, the short answer is no and the legal answer will be no. The moral question has an answer here, too. And that is no, as well.
A lot of these identified waters are located in designated wilderness. Not all of them, but a lot of them. And this idea cannot be allowed to stand because if it is allowed to stand and we start dumping fish we rightfully care a lot about into waters in our designated wilderness where these fish never occupied then we have blatantly violated the intent of the Wilderness Act of 1964. It is no more right for scientists to grab a bucket of fish and dump them in a wilderness stream than it is for some angler who just really loves catching perch to fill a bucket full of perch and go off hiking to some mountain lake in a wilderness area.
Actually, this is the kind of thing that leads to a slippery slope (no, not the stupid, trumped up slippery slopes you see Fox News lament about). This actually does lead to a slippery slope. If we can move fish to these waters, then why can't we do this or that for some other "compelling" reason. Why can't we build a hatchery that produces these fish right smack in the middle of a wilderness so we can dump more of these fish into those cold waters? Actually, it presents so many possible slippery slope arguments, I hate to go too far down that road.
Legally, this sort of thing, if challenged, shouldn't stand up in court. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and our courts follow the law when they decide all cases. I know radio commentators have been telling you for almost 30 years that the judges are liberal, commies, but I'm telling those who still are sane, courts actually follow the law regardless of what someone tells you everyday on the radio. I know there is a vast industry built upon the lie that liberal, activist judges are destroying this nation as they make up the law in their courtrooms, but they're actually following the law and when you lose over and over in court, I guess to save face, you need people to tell you the fix was in rather than look at yourself in the mirror and deal with the problem. This idea of crusader bucket biologists shouldn't pass the legal test. No matter how well intentioned.
I understand and point out quite often where our policies show great hypocrisy. How many times have I told you about efforts in northern Idaho to remove those invasive lake trout in favor of native kokanee, yet, on my home lake, Payette Lake, the management was in favor of invasive lake trout over native kokanee (which weren't actually native anymore and basically hatchery stock from Deadwood Reservoir, which is an entirely other frustrating piece of the story there)? On at least three occasions, I know I have mentioned this in this blog.
Then I have mentioned where Idaho Fish and Game will go in and use rotenone, a fish toxicant, to kill all the fish in a water body because some bucket biologist planted a bunch of nonnative fish that are out-competing whatever angler-favored fish IDFG wants to manage for in that water body. Many times, IDFG is using the nonnative and invasive species argument to go in and kill off the current fish in the waterbody and then turn around and dump their own nonnative-invasive species of fish into the body of water. Yes, there are numerous hypocrisies available on this subject, but the basic conservation ethic is not to introduce nonnative-invasive species into places where they have not been before. Now, obviously with smallmouth bass, brook trout, brown trout, and walleye being dumped all over the West, it's not like this conservation ethic is the standard operating procedure in its application across agencies, water bodies and states. However, from a moral standpoint, it is immoral to dump a nonnative species into an environment that has never dealt with that species before. There are so many unintended consequences that could arise. This is why our courts will fine and jail people who are caught doing this sort of thing. There are laws against it and for good reason.
Now, do I think this sort of thing will continue to happen? Unfortunately, yes, I do see more of this happening until some people in the conservation community step up, file some lawsuits so that our courts can follow the law on these matters and adjudicate them properly. But if we let this stand, well, we're just going to keep the streak alive of mankind fouling up the world around us, which I know creates some heartburn with some of you out there because climate change is largely man-made.
Well, if it wasn't OK when that rogue ship dumped a bunch of iron filaments in the northeastern Pacific to jump start an algae bloom and absorb more carbon, then how can this be right either?
I hate that poachers are ripping through African elephants and rhinos, but to save them do we move all the elephants and rhinos to some country that actually can protect them from poachers?
Maybe there's a little too much John Wayne in me, but it doesn't seem like running and hiding is the answer to confronting climate change or much else in this world. But then again, I've always been the guy standing in the middle of the prevailing current of the day forcing it to go left or right. And should this idea gain popularity, I'm still going to be in the middle of that current like a boulder forcing it one way or another, so long as I move it toward what has always been the right approach. I don't think we throw everything away because we are dealing with a great challenge. Trust the ethic, trust our laws and confront our problems head on.