Pest or Guest: the cultural context of the zoology of overabundance
Daniel Lunney, Peggy Eby, Pat Hutchings, Shelley Burgin, 2007. "Pest or Guest: the cultural context of the zoology of overabundance", Pest or Guest: The Zoology of Overabundance, Daniel Lunney, Peggy Eby, Pat Hutchings, Shelley Burgin
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In this chapter, our aim is to draw attention to common themes, look historically at the subject, and to consider the use of words, particularly “pest”, “abundant” and “overabundant”. One of the important points is to note that the word “pest” is a label that can categorise an animal in a way that may preclude it from receiving humane treatment and/or being seen as a resource. Word use, values and wildlife management conflicts project us into the cultural domain of examining the zoology of overabundance. We present a chronology of the convolutions in thinking, decision-making and actions to manage the burgeoning koala population on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. While these dilemmas are often played out publicly for terrestrial vertebrates, we also draw attention to the importance of invertebrate pests, such as invading ants, and marine organisms in ships' ballast, and then discuss the ultimate pest species - humans. We regard the issue of overabundance as a challenge to the discipline of ecology. The burgeoning world population of people and the koalas on Kangaroo Island both reflect the same process, throwing up similar biological and ethical dilemmas.