One of my photos

Parrot culling

April 25th, 2011 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 1 Comment · Life

Is it accurate, or just inflammatory to talk about plans to cull non-native species in emotive terms like ‘racism’?   In this story about plans to cull monk parakeets it says that there have been accusations of racism towards non-native species and I’mnot sure whether that exaggerates matters, trivialises them or somehow manages to do both at the same time.

I can see how an argument can be made for controlling a species that seems to be destrying an ecosystem.  On the other hand I can see how it can also be argued that having a species alter an ecosystem is only natural; it is what happens and everything will settle into a new balance.   That, in turn, can be countered by observing that humans as a dominant species will do what they can to keep the environment as they want, though as we have a conscience and the ability to understand the consequence of our actions does make us a bit different to other species.

What I can’t really understand is any justification on the grounds that non-native species are not ‘natural’.  There is hardly anything natural about the British landscape if by natural you mean not shaped by humans.   If you want to keep Britain’s environment as it should be you would have to replace most of it with forests and forget about having potatoes or tomatoes around the place.

One thing I am sure about is that the story as presented in the Guardian makes a very poor case.  For a start, the sub-heading is downright misleading. It says:

Population of wild birds, also known as quaker parakeets, deprive economy of £1.7bn a year, says Defra

However, further down the page a Defra spokesman says:

Non-native, invasive species deprive the British economy of £1.7bn every year

This sounds like all non-native species cost £1.7bn a year, while the headline says that just this one species cost £1.7bn a year.  It looks like the headline is misleading becasue the story also says that there are only 100 to 150 monk/quaker parakeets in the wild, which would work out at £1.3million a year per bird.  Unless these birds are packaging up sub-prime debts, selling them on as AAA securities I don’t think that is likely.

Most surprising of all, the RSPB says it supports killing these birds and to justify that says “These species aren’t causing any major conservation problems in the UK at the moment, but they might in future.”  Wow.  With friends like that…

I wait with bated breath to see who jumps in first to try and stop this: Peter Singer or Brian May


One Comment so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    How far do you want to go back for ‘non-native’? Grey squirrels? Japanese knotweed? Rabbits? Most trees? Go back about more than 11,ooo years and we are non-native….