Set in the modern day, reports of dragon sightings came flooding in from all over the world. No one know where they came from or why are they here but these monstrous creatures seemed to be hostile to humankind and are extremely aggressive, they would attack any human on sight provoked or not. They can reproduce quickly which seems rivalling that of rabbit and they have a craving for mammals particularly human for unknown reason.

Fast forward 5 years later, humanity finally won the war against the dragons, their population are dwindling and majority of them have retreated to mountainous region. Occasionally they would wreak havoc in population dense city to feast but usually they attacks the outskirts of the city area, but if left unchecked could spell disaster to the survival of our race.

I have been thinking that since the dragons are introduced into the world overnight and are forced to coexist with us, they would perceived us as a great threat to their survival and on the other hand we human must protect our own kind which often result in extermination of the dragons. There seems to be no win-win situation so I wonder is it necessary to drive them into extinction for the sake of our species, given the technology today would we be able to coexist amicably with the dragons without casualty or deplete our resources?

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    $\begingroup$ How intelligent are the dragons? Is it possible to make deals with them? Fast reproducing strong beasts that attack without any sense would force an extinction maybe a few in zoos or something $\endgroup$ – ChoTimberwolf Nov 21 '19 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ @ChoTimberwolf: they hunt in packs and the males are very territorial, accordingly to recent autopsy their brains are similar to dolphins intelligence. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Nov 21 '19 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ Population dynamics 101: If they reproduce quickly, they'd better also have an extremely high mortality rate, or they're all going to starve. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Nov 21 '19 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ @user535733 the fact that they can fly and therefore (presumably) travel vast distances quickly. It also makes them pretty unavoidable and probably un-outrun-able. Plus they have a taste for humans (apparently) and will (again presumably) wipe out a vast area in one "attack" $\endgroup$ – Gamora Nov 21 '19 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ If they taste good in a light butter sauce, then it's not "necessary" to wipe them out...but wiped out they will be anyway. Yum. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Nov 21 '19 at 18:13

It's all in how we perceive them, but regardless it is not a good idea to drive a species to extinction.

Take Grizzly Bears. They are aggressive, can kill you if you get close, often exist close to urban areas. They have formed part of the national identity of both the U.S. and Canada - they are protected and endeared by many.

Take Taipan snakes in Australia. They are the most venomous snakes in the world, with a single bite containing enough poison to kill 100 grown men. Death is assured in 30 minutes. There is no concerted effort to eradicate this snake.

And although Australia has the most venomous spiders in the world, the Funnelweb spider lives in Sydney in urban areas and can cause death within 15 minutes of a bite, there is no eradication effort of these either.

Generally it is better to find other solutions to ensure safety of people than to drive a species to extinction. Yes, humans can defend themselves, however in the end coexistence is often possible, with general acceptance that it is better to retain ecological diversity.

The bigger danger to your dragons is probably habitat destruction caused by human development, which often has a 'soft', hidden and often unintended effect to kill a species. Although you mentioned your dragons could 'breed like rabbits' that is nothing compared to the inexorable inevitable and rapid expansion of humanity over the last century. The dragons food sources would likely be effected, with the resultant population loss logical unless concerted conservation efforts are made.

So in short - better to create a dedicated reserve or 'habitat' for a species, manage and monitor their numbers, or mitigate damage from their natural behaviour, than to actively eradicate them, as is the case with many other natural dangerous animals we are currently living on the planet with.

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    $\begingroup$ They're apparently an invasive species. That's quite different from the examples you've given. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 21 '19 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ There is erradication effort against Aedes aegypti mosquito in Brazil. $\endgroup$ – lvella Nov 21 '19 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ If bears actively hunted humans they would be eradicated. $\endgroup$ – Jordan.J.D Nov 21 '19 at 19:03
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    $\begingroup$ Complete eradication may be also politically hard. There are many interest groups, that would press against any such effort: scientists (wanting to study them), green parties (wanting to conserve the species), luxury goods industries (wanting to breed and harvest), old map enthusiasts (wanting "here be dragons" used in everyday life)... $\endgroup$ – Martin Grey Nov 21 '19 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ Despite the hype, neither snakes nor spiders are a major threat to life in Australia. Taipans kill maybe one person every two years or so (all Australian snakes combined, about two people a year) and nobody has died from funnelweb bite since 1981. Eradicating either would be pretty much impossible - Australia is a huge place and both snakes and spiders are pretty good at hiding. This is a very different scenario from a large, easily-spotted creature that is going out of its way to hunt humans. $\endgroup$ – Geoffrey Brent Nov 22 '19 at 9:58

It is an unwise act to destroy a potential advantage. If dragons appeared overnight they are very much an unknown quantity and therefore still a potential advantage (notwithstanding their inherent hazards). They clearly have drawbacks, but other than a recent war it doesn't seem as though your characters have explored sufficiently whether they may also have immense benefits. Here are some questions that need investigation by your protagonists before they can decide whether or not to eradicate dragons as an unredeemable menace:

  1. Is their initial level of aggression and breeding typical, or just a response to their shock at being unexpectedly deposited into this new world (or possibly some scenario they escaped from which resulted in their sudden appearance)?
  2. Are they capable of being trained? You say they have intelligence equivalent to dolphins, and we can clearly train dolphins to carry out tasks.
  3. Are they capable of being tamed? Perhaps aggression and taste for human flesh are learned behaviours that young dragons copy from their parents: if young are hatched from eggs away from adult dragons it may be possible to train them to like humans (they may even impress on a human if it's the first creature they see after hatching) and to prefer more suitable meats.
  4. If they are incapable of being trained or tamed, can their behaviour be modified by chemical means, for example introducing artificial hormones or doping agents into their food or water supplies? This approach might be capable of reducing aggression and / or breeding rate.
  5. These creatures breed quickly but you did not state how quickly offspring themselves reach sexual maturity. If the generational cycle is short enough, is it possible to selectively breed the less aggressive / man-eating individuals to create a domesticated breed of dragon more suitable to living alongside and maybe working with humans?
  6. How / why did they suddenly appear - the sudden manner of their appearance suggests they may have innate hyperspatial abilities, for example.
  7. Do they have any other unusual draconic abilities (fiery / other breath, ability to fly with large loads, hide with valuable properties for example) that could make them useful, either as a partner creature or as an animal to be farmed?

If my hunch is right and they do have innate hyperspatial capabilities and travelled to Earth as a result of some incident threatening them elsewhere in the universe, then you potentially breed an extremely useful creature rather similar to the dragons in Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, albeit maybe not telepathic.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, a dragon represents a unique scientific opportunity. Alien life would be fascinating even if they had no special abilities, but if they can fly and breath fire, we could learn a lot from them. $\endgroup$ – Robin Bennett Nov 21 '19 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ The sudden appearance has to mean they're either supernatural (demons) or aliens. I think a lot would hang on which of those two possibilities it is! $\endgroup$ – workerjoe Nov 21 '19 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ Their sudden appearance doesn't have to be of their own volition - which could even lead the humans and the dragons toward a common goal of finding the perpetrator(s) of their appearance. $\endgroup$ – devyndraen Nov 21 '19 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ I also found the question "How / why did they suddenly appear" paramount in all this. Your course of action might be radically different if they came by themselves or if they were introduced on earth by a third party. The later scenario implies a scentient design by someone with a motive (the dragons may have been genetically modified to be more aggressive than in their natural habitat, or simply "trained" to be aggressive to biped mammals). Your recourse would be different in these scenarios ... $\endgroup$ – Hoki Nov 22 '19 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ @workerjoe. Not really, since the supernatural becomes natural when you study it $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Nov 22 '19 at 15:39

So dragons are aggressive predators that reproduce fast, probably need a lot to eat to be able to feed all their kids etc.

Maybe some dragons will be kept in special habitats but the war will go on till one side is extinct. At least with the information provided. As fast as way reproduce and the amount of food they probably need will make a co existance pretty hard.

Maybe if the humans find a way to reduce how fast the dragons reproduce there can be found a way for them to coexist. But I doubt the dragons would allow some humans scientists to work on them.

I don't see a way for them to coexist. The dragons reproduce to fast and needs to much food.

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    $\begingroup$ A big part of the problem is in the assertion that these dragons can "breed like rabbits"—there's a reason the expression involves rabbits and not wolves or crocodiles; an exploding population of predatory animals (especially gigantic ones like dragons) would wipe out an ecosystem before it could replenish itself. I'm afraid it's either the dragons or every other form of life on Earth. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ $\endgroup$ – Dan J Nov 21 '19 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @DanJ. And yet we are able to farm rabbits with finite amounts of resources without having to kill them all. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Nov 22 '19 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist Sure, but it's hardly a straightforward mental leap from farming rabbits to farming dragons. 😂 $\endgroup$ – Dan J Nov 22 '19 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @DanJ. Ok, but surely farming gators to farming dragons becomes just a matter of scale? $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Nov 22 '19 at 17:33

So the dragons are effectively very similar to the smallpox virus.

The world's a far better place since smallpox was eradicated.

Or Ebola. It doesn't flare up frequently, but when it does it creates major problems, and kills a lot of people.

Still think it's a good idea to just let them live and do their thing as long as they don't kill too many people (and who would decide what's too many, or who gets to decide which cities the dragons can kill people in and which they can't)?

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    $\begingroup$ "similar to the smallpox virus" - eradicated except for a few samples in top secret military research labs, because what could go wrong... $\endgroup$ – Robin Bennett Nov 21 '19 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ @RobinBennett if its top secret, how would you know? xD $\endgroup$ – Ivan García Topete Nov 21 '19 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ It's much easier to contain a dragon than a virus... $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Nov 22 '19 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @RobinBennett mostly in civilian labs, for the precise purpose to be able to create new vaccines were it to appear as a bio weapon $\endgroup$ – jwenting Nov 25 '19 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ @IvanGarcíaTopete it's well documented that the USSR developed smallpox into a biological weapon, even genetically engineering it for lethality and infectiousness. The fear of that happening is why institutes like USAMRIID and CDC contain culture collections for study. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Nov 25 '19 at 4:51

The few remaining dragons are probably unlike the starting population.

Consider some contest with thousands of contestants, spread over years. At the end, the remaining contestants will be unlike the masses at the start. They have survived for some reason. They are different.

This is how evolution works. In a bottleneck event changes to a species can happen very fast.

Your surviving dragons may be more cautious and less aggressive, or have different dietary needs. They are different from the initial starting population and less of a threat. If they have the sense to stay away from humans and hide in remote areas, then they are similar to other big predators that have survived to the modern day - like tigers or grizzly bears. One could make a case for leaving the survivors alone and killing (or relocating) those that cause trouble.

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    $\begingroup$ Life finds a way😁 $\endgroup$ – user6760 Nov 22 '19 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting answer, but this depends on the variability of the founder population. If variability is low, or the surviving dragons survived by luck (not being near a nuke or something), then it would probably not apply. But I'm a software engineer, not a biologist, so... $\endgroup$ – Jared Becksfort Nov 22 '19 at 16:06

Your story sounds similar to the plot of the Ender's Game series with the buggers. An invasive species suddenly appears, attacks humanity, humanity fights back and wins, but Ender's big dilemma deals with whether its actually right to exterminate them. Assuming you have a reasonable explanation for how the dragons suddenly appeared, I imagine the answer to your question "should we coexist with the dragons" will be shown through your story.

  • $\begingroup$ The plot is also similar to the 2002 movie Reign of Fire (with Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale) but with the additional moral dilemma. With the Ender's Game parallel, are you're implying that the dragons shouldn't be destroyed because they are intelligent? $\endgroup$ – 5AM Nov 22 '19 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ You can make arguments for both sides. While they do sound dangerous enough that I would strongly consider wiping them out, I expect there will be characters on both sides of the issue in his story, and that conflict could play a big role in it. $\endgroup$ – frodo2975 Nov 22 '19 at 21:54

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