A key point in the extinction was how human advances in technology outpaced the evolution of consciousness regarding wildlife conservation. Rosen writes:
We did hunt the passenger pigeon to death, even if we didn't quite understand at the time what we were doing. We also might have saved it, at least in token form, if only our technological genius and our conservation consciousness -- two things that set us apart from other animals -- had come together sooner.
However, as Rosen points out, just because modern societies have gained a more widespread understanding and appreciation of conservation, in many ways we have yet to learn the lessons of the past:
Human beings live in their historical and cultural contexts as much as passenger pigeons lived in fields, trees, and sky; it is important to remember, for example, that rural people hunted for food in the days before factory farming and supermarkets. The chicken industry in this country alone kills more than seven billion birds a year -- far more than the total number of passenger pigeons at their peak. Nobody in the nineteenth century had figured out how to make the slaughter of the birds sustainable, but it is worth wondering what we would think of the passenger pigeon, and ourselves, if they had