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May 07, 2009

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Carol Anne

Predators get a bad rap that they don't deserve. They are an important part of the ecosystem, and when they're removed, everything goes out of balance.

Case in point: the removal of wolves and mountain lions from the western U.S. -- the effects weren't just the obvious ones, disease and starvation caused by deer and elk overpopulation. It turns out that with predators around, the prey animals don't stay in the same place for long, but without predators, they stick around streams, denude the ground, and cause silt to flow into the streams, killing the fish and thus removing the food supply for anything that eats the fish, which then upsets the food chain for anything that eats whatever eats the fish.

I don't know what sort of similar unintended consequences might accompany a loss of sharks, but I can imagine it's similar.

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