We here at Cascadia Journal are in favor of saving all forms of animal life from extinction, especially those native to our region. That being said, sometimes the issues are not so clear cut. From a recent Associated Press article:

SPOKANE — There won’t be any endangered species protection for the Giant Palouse earthworm in the immediate future.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed a lower court ruling that found there is not enough evidence to prove the worm is threatened.

The appeals found that virtually all information about the elusive worm is limited and inconclusive.

In April, living specimens of the worm were captured for the first time in two decades. Environmentalists have filed a new petition seeking endangered species protection.

— The Associated Press

The Giant Palouse Earthworm is an annelid beast that, until recently, was thought to be extinct. Recently, while digging around near Washington State University, researchers found some examples of what could be the elusive worm. Through DNA testing, they were confirmed to be of the missing species.

This brings up some interesting questions. If we really did think that these worms were extinct, and they now do exist, then wouldn’t they by definition be endangered? Probably. Yet, giving them the “endangered” tag would mean that farmers would have to do (or not do) something to protect the species. Somehow, that just doesn’t seem right to me in this case.

The court found that there is not enough evidence to prove the worm is threatened. My initial reaction is to protect them. But my next reaction is that perhaps, if they have been hiding all this time, that there could be a lot of them hiding out there in the vast and hilly fields of the Palouse.

Yes, I worry that we don’t do enough to protect endangered species. Deep down, I worry about the worms. On the other hand, common sense tells me that if the worms have survived that long without our assistance, and that our current farming methods have not killed them all yet, that they may have a penchant for hiding and for survival that we might not quite understand yet.

Let the farmers do what they will for now. The worms will get by. I doubt we will not kill these particular creatures off any more badly than we think we have already. I celebrate that they are not dead yet.