It’s tricky because this amounts to almost the same as asking whether something has been done for no reason at all (if we disqualify examples like the Thylacine, where eradication was the goal, but there was a reason driving it) - it’s unlikely that we’d find an example of humans persistently and determinedly doing anything without some reason.
Not to speak for SmackFu, but I think his intent was to ask if humans have ever brought about the extinction of an animal, for the sole reason that we desired the animal to be extinct. Presuming the Thylacine was not hunted for food, pelts, or other animal by-products, and was exterminated solely due to the fact that it was a nuisance, then it certainly seems to fit the OP.
It strikes me that we can so easily exterminate some animals, such as the dodo, the moa, and the great auk, without even really meaning to, but were we to earnestly attempt to extinguish mosquitos or, say cockroaches, we would most likely be doomed to spectacular failure. Earth is truly the Planet of the Insects.
I want to bring up the Tasmanian tiger or Thylacine again. The last one died in 1936 I think, although people sporadically claim to have seen the things going around the place. It’s possible, after all Tasmania is big and has bugger-all people in it. Anyway, if you read “My Wicked wicked ways”, Errol Flynn’s autobiography, he saw specimens of thylacines as a child as his father was an eminent zoologist and kept all sorts of weird creatures around the place.
But wait! There is more! As the thylacine is only very recently extinct, they actually have a bunch of foetuses (or is that foeti?) preserves in jars, and they’re planning to attempt a Jurassic Park-style DNA extraction and planting to bring the thing back. And wouldn’t that be something? Because then we could go out and shoot the marsupial bastards, collect the bounty and go for some beers. Bonza!
Here in the sunny UK we are doing our level best to get rid of the Blandford Fly. A truly vile creature that will not be missed.
Here’s a report from the house of Lords, as you will see we have reduced it down by 90%. The last one will be celebrated, but not mourned:
then click on the Blandford Fly
OMIGOD - reading that short transcript sounds almost surreal - it’s like a Simpson’s take on Parliament!
from the link:
Indeed, that is Komedy Gold[sup]TM[/sup]. Especially in comparison to some of the House of Commons proceedings I’ve seen on C-SPAN.
I haven’t researched it, but I seem to recall that the screwworm, a larva of the fly Cochliomyia hominivorax, was eradicated in the United States, and possibly Mexico, through a massive cooperative government program of releasing billions of sterile adult flies. The flies were a serious problem to the cattle industry because they laid eggs in any open wound on livestock (or humans). The eggs hatched and the larvae ate the flesh of the host, usually resulting in death if untreated.
Though not yet extinct, eradication programs (I’m still relying on memory here) continue in Central and South America. I wish them success.
I still regard the old Indian who killed the last sabre toothed tiger as somewhat of a hero.
I was thinking that at least in part, the extinction of the passenger pigeon was solely to get rid of the things. I’ve heard estimates of 5 billion (too high, is my guess) birds before the settlers decided to start killing them. I mean, you can’t really eliminate such a huge population (even if it was only 2 billion) in such a short time by merely hunting… Or am I just confused?
In the US a number of states have, in the past, placed bounties on wolves and coyotes, and many folks would have been very happy if those species had been wiped out entirely.
I think that even today you will find many people who kill snakes on sight, and would be very happy if there were no more snakes in the world, or at least no poisonous ones. (I’m not saying that’s an enlightened attitude, only that it is a common one.) Other than various “rattlesnake roundups” though, I’m not aware of any organized efforts to eliminate snakes.
No one wanted to “get rid” of the Passenger Pigeon. However, its extinction wasn’t due to hunting alone (for food), but also due to disruption of the breeding colonies in the process. The species was apparently only able to breed successfully in large colonies.
One species that was made extinct in North America rather deliberately was the Carolina Parakeet. They were killed mostly because of their depredations on crop plants, not for food. However, they were also killed for their feathers.
Another bird that was deliberately hunted to extinction was the Guadelupe Caracara, restricted to an island off Mexico. It was hunted and poisoned by sheepherders on the island. Although the last individuals known were killed by a scientific collector, there may have been others present at the time. In any case, even if these had not been collected, there is little doubt they would have been killed by the sheepherders anyway.
The Falkland Islands Wolf (actually a fox) was hunted and poisoned to extinction largely because of its depredations on sheep.
Checking over the list of all animal species extinct since 1500, these and the Thylacine (if it is in fact extinct) are the only ones that I think qualify according to the terms of the OP. It’s interesting that three of the four were confined to islands and eliminated because they were a menace to sheep.
None of the other species mentioned (Great Auk, Dodo, Stellar’s Sea Cow, etc.) qualify because none were deliberately hunted just to eliminate them. They were simply overhunted in a wanton and irresponsible way.
On some of the insects mentioned, I can attest that mosquitos are far from extinct in Panama. And although there is an active program to eliminate the Screw-worm Fly in North America, as far as I know there is no such plan for South America.
The Progressive Rock Concept Album Composer flourished in the 1970s and the species was able to establish in many places throughout Europe and N. America. Notorious for consuming vast resources, while producing nothing useful to mankind, the species was purposefully eradicated towards the end of the 70s by masses of young people filling the air with punk rock (which is toxic to the species) and hair gel. The species has not been especially missed or mourned, and its intentional extinction is generally regarded as a good thing.
There are rumours that ageing acolytes occasionally try obscure experiments to re-create the species, rather like those rumours about ex-Nazis in S. America tryng to clone Hitler, but these can be largely dismissed as myth.
A more recent example would be the Dot Com Entrepeneur, a species which multiplied in alarming numbers from about 1995 onwards, and which has only recently been brought under control. There are numerous popular and well-supported plans to extinguish the species entirely, but these have been put on hold temporarily since recent discoveries indicate the species will in fact self-destruct unaided. Apparently, the species is fatally allergic to its own crap.
No plan right now, but it’s the next logical step after the Caribbean.
The eradication program for the screwworm fly started in the 50s when someone discovered that a certain amount of gamma radiation sterilized them without otherwise reducing their vigor. It also helps that screwworm females only breed once in their life.
They started releasing sterile flies in Florida and the southeast about 1957. After they were eradicated there, the program moved over to Texas. When Texas was cleared of them, they found it kept getting reintroduced from Mexico. Also Mexican ranchers wanted it eliminated there too, so Mexico and the US made an agreement to set up an eradication program in Mexico.
The program (mostly funded by the US) kept moving south with agreements with the other Central American countries. Current status, as far as I know, is that all countries except Panama are free of the pest and Panama is virtually there.
The screwworm fly has also been eradicated in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and a few other Caribbean islands and they are now working on Jamaica.
As far as South America and the rest of the Caribbean (Hispanola, Cuba, and Trinidad all have the fly, for example), no there are no current plans, but it’s probably only a matter of time. After all, the main reason the program was extended to Central America was to reduce the chance of it being reintroduced to the US. Since there are reintroductions from these other places, it’s only a matter of time before the eradication program is extended to them.
Aren’t you forgetting a certain St Patrick? (my first ever use of a smilie)
This project has actually copped a fair bit of flack in Australia. The general concensus is why waste millions of dollars on reproducing a specimen of a now defunct species that couldn’t be used to produce a viable population when the money would be so much better used protecting those other species that are near extinction?
There has also been a fair bit of (possibly unfair) speculation that it was just a media stunt by a few scientists looking for a funding boost.
See the section on “Hope for the future” in: http://www.dpiwe.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/BHAN-53777B?open
BTW this cite provides a better discussion than the one I linked to above of why the thylacine was driven to extinction.
Bibliophiles would rejoice if the silverfish were rendered extinct.
And what use are yellowjackets anyway? They’re the psychopaths of the insect world; sting you just for the hell of it.
Smile when you say that, Mister.
IIRC, when it was realized that the lions in Arabia were declining greatly, a rush was on to be the one who shot the last of the species.
“From The Stellar’s Sea Cow was hunted to extinction about 200 years ago, along with the spectacled cormorant . The sea cow only lasted 27 years once humans discovered it until it was wiped out for good.” From mmmiiikkkeee.
I thought sea cow was just another name for manatee.
“Sea cow” is just a general name for the members of the Order Sirenia. It includes the three species of Manatee, the Dugong, and the extinct Steller’s Sea Cow.
Steller’s Sea Cow lived all around the rim of the North Pacific from Japan to California in the late Pleistocene. They were evidently wiped out by primitive hunters in Asia and North America long before Europeans came on the scene. The only reason a small population survived long enough in the isolated and remote Commander Islands for Bering to discover it was because there were no humans there.
This site suggest there may even be some left, but chances are remote.
Very interesting. Thanx for the info and the link. They’re so prehistoric-looking, but in a different way from the turtle, lizards, etc.