Professor Tracy Hester has penned a really powerful piece on efforts to preserve the descendants of Red Wolves in Texas. In just a few paragraphs Professor Hester summarizes historic and mostly unsuccessful efforts to save the Red Wolves by moving them to the east coast. He also succinctly explains why the Federal Endangered Species Act and its implementing regulations might need to be revised to account for 21st century science and the reality that sadly we've already failed to preserve certain species but can still preserve their descendants.
More broadly, Professor Hester raises important questions worthy of our serious consideration relating to the reasonable prospects for successful conservation and the compromises we might need to make in defining what constitutes such success. As just one example, I think of our coral reefs and the species that had lived in that fragile ecosystem that just can't survive in our warmer climate. It would seem that we would want our laws to facilitate the next best thing instead of howling at the moon about the opportunities already lost.
While debate has flared over how to incorporate cloning and other genetic technologies to protect endangered species or revive extinct ones through experimental populations, the Act and its regulations do not provide an obvious path to protect common animals that could contain important genetic echoes of disappearing species.