Monday, February 8, 2016

Is Rare Species Worth Saving?

Reported by F. Russell Grumman
ITITY Science Correspondent

The Department of the Interior has opened a public comment period regarding its consideration of placing Dingbatus Palinensis on the endangered species list.  Discovered in 2006 by naturalists studying the habits of Alaskan grizzly bears, this variety of brown bat is characterized by its luxurious fur, large vacant eyes, and an incredibly shrill vocalization sounding like a high pitched "ubetcha, ubetcha". 

Initial observation proved difficult due to the creature’s habit of constantly flying off in the dark in no predictable direction; however researchers finally located its home in the belfry of the Wasilla town hall. After climbing the tower stairs, they found the door almost impossible to open as it had been nearly blocked by a prodigious quantity of solidified guano. This led them to hypothesize that the belfry was a roost for many more individuals than the nuclear family they found.

However, after two years of observation they concluded it was only the female they had originally observed, and to a lesser degree the other members of her brood, that produced a more guano per specimen that any other known species of bat. It is this characteristic that suggested Palinensis should be protected, as further research might identify a sufficient number of examples to have value as a source of natural fertilizer. 

Opponents argue that if there were more, they would have already been found. They further contend that this small group does not merit protection, but is merely an aberrational mutation that simply stinks up any place it appears. Moreover, they site evidence indicating that Palinensis’ droppings are responsible for a diminution of reasoning abilities in those exposed to it for any length of time

A decision is expected in late 2016 after all comments are collected and considered, according to a spokesperson for the panel considering the action. She added that if a threat to public mental health and physical safety can be demonstrated, it may eventually trump the uniqueness and entertainment value of the of the species.

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