Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



As new technology and a desire for progress propel us into the next millennium, a corresponding daily depletion of national and worldwide wildlife resources perpetuates the frightening biological problem of species extinction, resulting in "irreplaceable losses" to medicine, science, ecology, and aesthetics. Every species is a part of the intricate and complicated ecosystem; its stability depends on the continued existence of each of its components. Each black-footed ferret, blue whale, and red wolf contributes to the delicate "balance of nature," a state of ecology that must be maintained for humans to survive. Indeed, scientists have derived much-needed knowledge from other species: how to increase worldwide food production, cures for disease, and a deeper understanding of how the human body functions. Geneticists and biologists have just begun to uncover the vast resources stored in wildlife that can enrich human life. With each species extinction comes a lost opportunity-one that cannot be replaced or artificially reproduced. Thus, undertaking the protection and revival of endangered species is more than an exercise for animal lovers and aesthetes-it is an effort demanded by the human instinct of self-preservation.