The UK government’s policy of culling badgers as part of tackling bovine tuberculosis (bTB) was debated in parliament for a second time on 27 March 2017 (Transcript/Video). What was striking about this debate, as well as its predecessor on 7 September 2016, was its ineffectiveness in informing or influencing. Much heartfelt opinion and many purported facts were aired, and there is some value in bringing the issue to the public attention again, but I doubt anyone changed their mind, certainly not the government. Continue reading →
Time and time again I read of conservationists’ frustration with demand for horn, scales, and other wildlife body parts used in traditional Asian medicines. This demand is driving species through poaching to extinction. I share that frustration. And I abhor the cruelty and suffering, and the criminal racketeering that supplies the demand. However, campaigners lose my support when they claim that belief in the medicinal power of such items is misplaced ‘because it has no basis in science.’
Rhinoceros horn, ideally still attached to the rhinoceros
The campaign to ban driven grouse shooting began because the pastime is incompatible with the salvation of hen harriers in particular and the protection of raptors in general. Driven grouse shooting requires intensive land use to maximise the grouse available for shooting. The grouse are ‘driven’ at the guns – beaters flush them toward the shooters, a form of ‘canned hunting’. Despite legal protection, these birds of prey keep disappearing from our skies and often turn up poisoned or shot. There is sufficient suitable habitat for over 300 pairs of hen harriers in England and Wales; the actual number of nesting attempts is in single figures – “a tiny handful“; the number of successful breeding attempts is usually zero.
Hen harrier, via Scottish Natural Heritage media library – copyright-free images of English hen harriers are as rare as…the birds themselves
The justification for seeking this ban has widened to include grouse shooting’s other serious negative consequences. Continue reading →
The squirrel debate seems straightforward: red squirrels are native to Britain. Grey squirrels are invasive aliens. Reds are endangered. Greys are rampant. The disease squirrel pox threatens reds, while greys are immune carriers.Greys outcompete reds for habitat and food. So greys must be handicapped? Like any ecological relationship, the truth is much more complex and fascinating. Continue reading →
While searching for the ridiculous to draw attention to the serious, I found this.
“Three orcas, or killer whales, were taken [in August] by a Russian catching team, believed to be the team that caught a female orca in the same general area at the same time last year. For the past year, that young female — someone named her Narnia and the name stuck — has been swimming alone in a tiny makeshift pen near Nakhodka (Vladivostok area). … When Narnia met her new cellmates, the three captives were reportedly in poor condition after the transport, refusing to eat. The trainers could do nothing. Finally, we heard that Narnia herself tried something. She brought fish to the three captives and gave it to them.” Continue reading →