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Food for Thought: Can You Save Endangered Animals by Eating Them?

posted: 04/28/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Turkey Farm
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A North Carolina organization has an interesting solution for saving endangered animals: eating them.

The Livestock Conservation works to promote the conservation of rare breeds of poultry and livestock by reintroducing them into local foodways. Founded in the 1970's, the organization partners with local farmers to devise breeding strategies that protect the small populations' limited genetic diversity. As the population grows, the animals are then introduced as food commodities to promote further breeding.

As the demand for an animal grows, its breeding population should also grow accordingly - as long as it is bred sustainably.

"With smart thinking, patience, and respectful cooperation, breeds can grow into valued components of our agricultural and food systems," reads the organization's website.

In the early 2000's, the organization was instrumental in resuscitating the Red Wattle hog population in the United States. Only 42 Red Wattle hogs remained in the United States in 1999 after falling hog prices caused many breeders to send their herds to market. The Livestock Conservancy established a registry for breeders and facilitated communication between the registry's members. Slowly but surely, the Red Wattle hog population increased to over 300 animals in 2012. Just last year, the organization reclassified the hogs from Critical to Threatened on their conservation priority list.

In an era where many animals are falling victim to poaching, overhunting and overfishing, could sustainable agriculture be the key to rebuilding populations?

Learn more about sustainable agriculture:

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