Super-predator killing adult animals at a rate that is not sustainable.

Super-predator killing adult animals at a rate that is not sustainable.

Humans kill as many as 14 times the number of adult animals as any other predator.

Humans, classed as a super-predator, are killing adult animals at a rate up to 14 times as high as other predators, particularly among the fish population.

A new study, released by the journal Science, says humans are killing the wrong age and size animals and that goes against nature.

The study looked at what type of prey predators were killing and determined that most predators kill the young and weak animals in the group, while humans seek to kill the largest and healthiest.  Those adult animals are usually in the prime of their reproductive years, continued the study.

Surveying almost 400 species in the oceans and on every continent except Antarctica, the researchers found humans kill more adults than any other predator.  The highest discrepancies were among the fish population.

The fishing industry contributes to the problem, since taking the largest fish is of greater short-term benefit than the smaller ones for obvious reasons.  Larger fish mean more food, and are easier to process.

The study cited the Atlantic Cod as an example, saying that if a female cod was allowed to grow another 10%, she could produce as many as twice the number of eggs.  The report added that scientists are seeing that cod are breeding at an earlier age, possibly because of the practice of keeping older fish and tossing back the smaller ones.

Chris Darimont, a conservation scientist at the University of Victoria in Canada and lead author of the study, said humans have a rather unnatural predator behavior.  Diarmont, a hunter and fisherman himself, says he prefers to take younger prey, simply because he thinks they taste better.

He added that most outdoorsmen prefer to take down large prey as trophies, and also to impress fellow hunters and fishermen.  He said no one mounts a small fish above the fireplace.


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