Words Matter

Mountain Goat and PeopleThis may seem like a nit-picky issue to many. It has to do with a choice of words used by the Park Service. Today, has a press release titled "Olympic National Park Seeks Public Input Regarding Proposed Reintroduction of Fisher". The title seems innocent enough, what could I be upset with? See that word "reintroduction"? It implies that at sometime in the past the Fisher was "introduced" to the park, when in fact they were always part of the landscape but were removed by overtrapping in the 1800s. What would be a better choice of words? How about "restored" or, the word Kurt uses at the National Park Traveler is "returned".

This matters because there have been animals introduced to parks, and it has caused big problems. This is especially true in , where in the 1920s (before park designation), mountain goats were added to the environment to give hunters something to shoot at. The goats have survived and now are eating up very fragile and rare plant species on the mountains of the park. The park wanted to remove these goats from the park, but it has proved too difficult, dangerous, and controversial.

So, for the sake of the animals, if you find yourself talking to friends and family about goings on in the nation's parks, choose your words carefully!



This same nomenclature issue arose a decade ago over the wolf restoration project in Yellowstone.

A word I think best describes these projects is "recovery."