Economist: Eat endangered species to save them

Animals on the endangered species list could be saved if private owners are permitted to raise and sell meat for food, an economist said.

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In an op-ed for The Washington Times, Richard Rahn, chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth, made the case that endangered species can be saved if they’re eaten.

“Have you ever noticed we have no shortage of chickens and cows and other animals that are privately owned?” Rahn asked FOX Business’ Ashley Webster on “Varney & Co.” on Tuesday. “And people eat them or use them in other possible ways – and we can do the same thing with many of the endangered species.”

While not all endangered animals are edible, in his opinion, growing demand for endangered species products will increase the supply as long as they are privately owned and protected.

“There are market solutions to most of endangered species’ problems,” he said.

The Trump administration’s proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, which was used to save the grizzly bear and bald eagle – among other animals – from extinction, include removing the phrase, “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination,” the proposal said.

Rahn cites the Supreme Court case of the dusky gopher frog as an example: “You wouldn’t eat them,” he said, “but what you could do is say to farmers and others ‘we would like you to raise a number of dusky gopher frogs we think are needed to make sure they are going to survive.’ And then the government would pay people like they pay farmers for producing these animals.”

The idea isn’t new, he added. In the 1950s a British chicken producer developed an idea for replenishing sea turtles by essentially mimicking the way he raised chickens and then releasing a certain number of them back into the wild when they were mature enough to survive.

“This way by raising turtles – and turtle meat is very good – the shells are valuable,” he said. “You can have large turtle crops all around the world.”