Bird biologists are increasingly like hospice workers

The sorry state of many of the world’s bird species — like vultures in Southeast Asia and northern spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest — is turning wildlife biologists into virtual hospice workers: they come to know and care for their patients, but can do little to stop their decline. In British Columbia, some scientists are suggesting that the government round up every last wild spotted owl for a captive breeding program. In the absence of concerted action to protect species and their habitat, are captive breeding programs an answer? Ultimately, how can we save other species from ourselves? Meera Subramanian reflects on the dilemma in Gristmill.