Some fish stories are better than others. I used to work with a guy who claimed that he had once caught a fish so big he had to use his boat trailer to get it out of the water. This was after he had asked the skipper of the nuclear sub that had surfaced near him to help tow it to shore. I might have believed him if he hadn’t added that part about the submarine. Another guy I used to work with was an immigrant from Vietnam. He embraced America’s work ethic with a vengeance. Although he was a full-time engineer by day, at night he worked as a police officer. This left him five or six hours a day to sleep, which seemed fine with him.

He did not, however, embrace our environmental ethics. One day, he showed me several Polaroid photos from his relatives who had settled in the southern part of the U.S. along the Mississippi. The pictures showed a pickup truck filled with full-grown alligator snapping turtles with their heads chopped off. I was aghast. These turtles must have weighed a couple hundred pounds each and were probably over half-a-century old. This turtle is considered a threatened species in most states. I asked him how they managed to catch so many. He told me that they used to trap turtles in the Mekong with woven baskets submerged near the shore. Turtles seek the baskets out because they resemble hollow logs. They had simply substituted metal barrels for baskets.

Personally, the only way I can see to save what remains of our biodiversity is to get more areas into the hands of NGOs who can successfully limit damage to wildlife in a given area. Government is often not very good at doing that.