Populations in Balance


are confused and angry about the rule. If a hawk is on THEIR private property, they should have every right to kill it. Losing chickens to these nasty predators is expensive, stressful, and very harmful to their business. Poultry farmers produce eggs and chickens consumed by people all over the state. They realize that the new rodent problem might be due to fewer hawks, but they prefer to try other ways to control the rodents.


consider the hawk to be a beautiful bird with an especially important place in the community. They worry about hawks becoming an endangered species. They know that ecosystems are complicated and interdependent, and they worry that other people don’t think about unintended consequences. Furthermore, they are suspicious that the farmers will use poison to control the rodents, which they think could be very harmful.


want to prevent harmful disturbances to the environment and to protect native species. They are concerned about the rodent population becoming too large, thereby hurting natural grasslands and farm crops. They are not sure how long the ban on hawk-killing should last. They are a bit worried that the county councilors will change the rule because of complaints and not because of scientific evidence.


are the elected representatives of the people of Cluck County. They want to do the responsible thing, but they also want to keep everyone happy. They are worried about the rule disturbing the farmers’ businesses. They respect the scientists and the game warden, but wonder if they overreacted by banning all killing of hawks and birds of prey. They are also somewhat concerned that the environmental activists will organize demonstrations against the rule, which they believe would make the county look bad.

an opening statementincludes arguments for your position comments / questions of other attendees a closing statementthat reinforces arguments

Focus WordsUse these to make a better argument.nativepopulation interdependencedisturbancerecoveryconsumerproducerpredatorpreyPrepare to PARTICIPATE:

  • Decide who will participate and who will observe for Meeting 1 and Meeting 2 (half for each).
  • Read the mindsets of each team very carefully.
  • Develop strong arguments that you can make during the meeting.
  • If you are on the county councilor team, come up with ground rules.
  • Decide:
  • Who will present your team's opening statement?
  • Who will present your team's closing statement?

This project was supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.

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