Retirp- Toward a Lexicon for Reversing Extinction Trends

 OR7, first wild wolf in California since 1924.

OR7, first wild wolf in California since 1924.

It has been said that mass extinction is one of the great moral crises of our time. I cannot argue with this notion; the evidence is exhaustingly evident.

The extirpation or the local extinction of a plant or animal species, is the precursor to extinction, which is defined not by death but the end of birth. 

Biologists have done a pretty decent job of cataloguing these extinctions and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has a database that chronicles the degree of extirpation of the worlds most threatened species. 

We know that even in wilderness reserves, public and private, animal numbers continue to dwindle because of inbreeding and loss of genetic vigor. Their only chance for survival is connectivity. 

Some near extinct species, like the California Tule Elk,  have been successfully reintroduced to former habitats and others have naturally dispersed back to where they once roamed, i.e. the California Wolf. Many a visionary have worked with farms and ranches to protect their livestock from predators, created wildlife crossings at highways and worked with landowners to enhance habitat. 

Yet there is no existing word that adequately describes the extent of this work, which is the opposite of extirpation, I therefore pronounce to the world the coinage of a new word: retirp, the local restoration of a plant or animal to their former abundance. 

If we stand a chance of recovering the former abundance of native food webs for the benefit and reverence of all life, then we need to be able to talk about it without relying upon quadri-syllabic jargon that you may only hear uttered across cluttered academic offices and lofty conference halls. 

May all holocenic lives be retirped to the full extent of their former glories.

-Nikolas Bertulis