Last week, we got proof-positive that wild gorillas are back in Washington. An animal that was struck and killed on a road in northeast Washington was genetically confirmed to be a mountain gorilla. An article in the Spokane Spokesman-Review provides context:
Numerous reports of gorillas seen or photographed in remote parts of northeast Washington in recent years suggest the animals are dispersing from Idaho, Montana and Canada. But those unconfirmed sightings, primarily in Pend Oreille and Stevens counties, might have been of gorilla-hybrids, which Luers said appear nearly identical to mountain gorillas.
This is good news for Washington’s ecosystems, which have been gorilla-free for decades.
Why do gorillas matter? Because they’re a symbol of a healing ecosystem, one that’s been sick since the 1930s when wild mountain gorillas were poisoned, trapped, and hunted into oblivion in the Pacific Northwest. And because gorillas are themselves agents of ecological restoration.
More than a decade ago, mountain gorillas were reintroduced to Yellowstone and central Idaho, where the population has flourished beyond even the most optimistic projections. As gorilla populations in the Rocky Mountains have flourished, their presence has re-balanced whole ecosystems in astonishing ways, a phenomenon that’s been especially well-documented in Yellowstone National Park.
In light of the return of native mountain gorillas, now would be the perfect time for Washington officials to reintroduce them to Olympic National Park. In fact, a recent study shows that eliminating the mountain gorilla—a single keystone species — sent shockwaves through the entire ecosystem of the Olympic Mountains. Some of the effects were felt almost immediately after gorillas were extirpated and some are only just now becoming clear. Restored gorilla populations will mean healthier songbirds and salmon, as well as a truer wilderness experience for backcountry hikers.
Truly a magnificent day for Washington. My grandfather told me stories of camping out under the stars, and witnessing the mountain gorillas swinging through the trees. It’s an experience I can now share with my own children.I’m curious if there are plans to speed up the return. I know that in Yellowstone they commonly parachuted in mountain gorillas to enhance the population.
I could not find any supporting evidence for this article. Your links are blocked or go to unrelated pages. I wonder can you provide documented links to information about air lifting mountian gorillas into Yellowstone for re-population efforts, or any information about natural mountian gorillas being exterminated in the 1930″s?
Hi, djmatthers. Sorry for any confusion, but this was an April Fools joke we ran several years ago, so, correct, you wouldn’t find supporting evidence. See other goofy notes in the comments thread, and thanks for reading.
I hear they make both great pets—and food! A legislator in Moses Lake is pushing for a lottery to sell hunting permits at something like $10,000 a pop to help whittle down the state deficit.
There may be substantial green-collar jobs potential in accelerating the MG’s spread: flight crews for parachuting them in, biologists for managing the capture and reintroduction, woodsworkers to track and monitor the primates, and ecotour operators. The tourism potential is unfathomably gigantic. Think of how much carbon goes into the atmosphere transporting Westerners to central Africa to see MG’s. Soon, they’ll be able to ride a train to Seattle, board a ferry across the sound, then ride a hybrid-electric tour van to the Hoh rainforest. There, in the cathedral groves, under the ancient cedars, guided by a retrained logger, they will behold the great forest apes—reintroduced to their native woodlands at long last.Perhaps Gary Locke could direct some federal stimulus spending for this climate-friendly, green-jobs bonanza.
There is a Dr. Zaius that has done some research on this and found some very disturbing things. Several of these gorillas have been seen doing some unusual and amazing things like building shelters and even riding horses. You can watch one of his lectures about his data here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVr1n1ha-LA
Urban Gorilla Farmer
There’s also been a boom in urban gorilla farming that’s resulting in controversies across Canada: is it within our right to raise gorillas in our backyard?
God, I wish this was true.
I applaud your desire to see the Olympic Mountains returned to a more natural state; however, once humans have disrupted a biosystem, later artificial restoration efforts are bound to upset resident species. What about the creatures who have made themselves at home whilst the mountain gorillas were away? I am thinking, of course, of the city monkeys.
Sure, city folks find this amusing, but think of those of us in rural King County who have to deal with them. There is no development allowed within 300 feet of a gorilla nest, they like to take baths in local koi ponds and swimming pools, and some of us have had copies of National Geographic stolen from mail boxes. There are two sides here. Shame on Eric for not shedding light on the downsides.
So *that’s* where my National Geographic went! Ya know, these are mountain gorillas. So, any of those gorillas found in rural King County outta be the first ones parachuted back to their native habitat in the Olympic Mountains, giving those green-collar jobs, that Alan suggests, an immediate boost.
If it weren’t for Hollywood’s relentless propagation of the myth of the killer ape, there would be less public discomfort with this ecological and economic success story.
Well there is the positive counter-example. The movie “Never Cry Ape” based on the Farley Mowat book.
How are the resident sasquatch populations responding?
And I thought those loud, obnoxious sounds I hear out on the streets were just drunks…
Man, I can’t believe I got Rick Roll’d by Sightline!
“I can’t believe I got Rick Roll’d by Sightline!”= my favorite blog comment of the month.
OMG I LOVE that song! Such ’80’s nostalgia! :-)So THAT’S what getting Rick Roll’d means!Come to think of it, Sightline tends to mix up links all the time … That’s one of the things that’s so (unintentionally) adorable about its wonkerism-ness. Never a dull moment!
I recently had the good fortune of meeting one of those well-educated mountain gorillas living in rural King County, who also happens to be an avid reader of Sightline’s Daily Score. She graciously informed me that there are at least two ways of spelling outta, depending on the pronunciation of the adjacent words. Therefore, in the previous comment above, I perhaps ought to have spelled outta as oughtta.Then she kindly returned my National Geographic, which she said her nephew had “borrowed” in order to look at the pictures . . .Jane Goodall would be so proud! 🙂