Here’s the deal: there’s a 3 foot long pink earthworm living in the Palouse region of Idaho and Washington and nowhere else on the planet. It can burrow 15 feet underground and it was re-discovered last year after scientists believed it had gone extinct. Also, it smells like a lily.
At the risk of sounding unserious: awesome!
Anyway, a small group of local conservation groups is petitioning to get the worm listed as a federal endangered species. Listing would probably create some incentive for habitat protection in an area where the native ecosystem, a rich 2 million-acre grassland, is nearly vanished.
So the endangered species petition is about more than just the earthworm; it’s also about the wider ecosytem. That sort of tactic—finding what biologists sometimes call “charismatic megafauna” to use as a poster child for broader conservation—has worked with grizzly bears, wolves, and sea otters.
But can it work for an earthworm, even a giant one? And anyway, why should we care more about friendly-looking creatures than the oddities of nature?
Wow! What a thought—a three foot worm. I would love to see one of those things alive in the soil. Imagine having one as a pet. I could keep it in my garden to fertilize the soil!!
To all you new-found worm-lovers, I HIGHLY recommend the book “The Earth Moved” by Amy Stewart.
I’m so glad you wrote this post, especially this part:At the risk of sounding unserious: awesome!.. and sorry it took me a week to notice it, ’cause one of my pet peeves about environmentalism as a movement is that sometimes the people that talk about wanting to save the Earth don’t even seem to LIKE the Earth.Life is so amazing, and oftentimes we enviros get caught up in this vindictive mode… we are evil, we are destroying. Well, yes, we are, but that’s not the only reason to advocate for other species. :)Here’s a little self promotion, but it’s relevant. Actual enjoyment of nature (as opposed to worship of it) is one of the raisons d’etre for my own web site—and we showcase it in a series we’re calling LOVE THOSE GOOFY B*ST*RDS, full of homages to the cool and perhaps slighted species in our lives. So far we’ve done carnivorous plants, axolotls, invasive blackberries, and moths.At the risk of sounding serious: they’re awesome!bottleworld.net.
Hmmm, Looks like good fishing to me. Where can I get some?