I never really thought about extinct species until I read your article "Saying Goodbye" [December/January 1999]. I guess like many people I didn't relate losing species to anything in my own life. It all seems so distant to a city dweller like myself. But the author, Mark Jerome Walters, changed my perspective. His essay was not only moving, it also made me realize that we should care about all species, even when they don't live in our immediate backyard. Opponents of endangered-species protection programs might say that it's a bunch of corny rhetoric, but I think we should all understand that every species is interconnected and that to lose one threatens the survival of others--including human beings.
Daphne Emory Cleveland, Ohio
As I read the article about extinct species in the December/January issue, tears were running down my face and my throat had a lump. I have had the privilege of seeing the Key deer in their refuge, and I can think of nothing that would distress me more than to hear that they no longer roamed the little island they call home.
My tears were for the dusky seaside sparrow, the Xerces blue butterfly, the ivory-billed woodpecker and many other extinct species. They were also for myself, for never having the opportunity to see many of these wonderful species, and for my children, who will only ever see them in books.
Melanie Fernandes Warwick, Rhode Island
"Do commercial butterfly releases pose a threat to wild populations?" That was the question you asked in a short article in your latest issue ["Natural Debate," December/January 1999]. I would pose a different question: No matter whether or not such releases pose a threat to wild butterflies, why would anyone want to release the insects as a bride and groom leave a wedding chapel? To me, it seems like the ultimate, unnecessary human indulgence.
Susan Carpenter San Diego, California
I was very shocked by the photo of the elephant seal bull and pup in your issue ["Photo Contest 1998," December/January 1999]. I understand that the photographer was unavailable for further comment, but I am confused. I hope that you will be able to contact him later and explain the photo in an upcoming issue. It was a worthy winner of the contest, but I hope the pup wasn't hurt. …