Wild things

What is the best survival strategy for wild animals? The evidence suggests that it’s being hated by humans. There is nothing like a programme to bring any species’ numbers down to boost the population. This seems to bode ill for pandas and polar bears, but it’s working out fine for for magpies, rats, mice, pigeons, flies and fleas.

On the Guardian website, Graham Holliday says that there’s a war on wild boar in France.

In the UK guidance by Defra on how to cull the growing wild boar population was published in February. The British government has decided against a state-led cull saying that the damage currently caused by wild boar is too minimal to be of concern, but some people in France are seriously worried.

There are 1,000 feral boar in the UK, apparently. DEFRA have given advice on how to kill them, which doesn’t seem too hands-off to me, but, then, I haven’t read the guidance.

The French are apparently taking the threat of wild boar rampaging through their celtic villages, snuffling their magic potion and overturning their roundhouses seriously. Oh sorry, that was in Asterisk.

And if you read the Observer article about the French, it seems their imaginary wild boar rampages caused

…. an estimated 20,000 car accidents a year involving the animals and hundreds of millions of pounds of damage to crops and property

To reference another meat animal – Bull. Those figures are so blatantly spurious, they are hardly worth challenging.

The surprising thing is how many people see wild creatures as threats to people, rather than welcoming them as signs that we still haven’t managed to destroy the ecosystems that support us..

One commenter (Trxr) says

where you get the munters (including certain celebs who should concentrate on paying their divorce settlements to their temporary trophy-wives) screaming about a roo cull here in Australia. There’s a lot more than a thousand of the things roaming about here.

Another commenter (the aptly monikered “Ishouldapologise”) on the Guardian article says, in what I assume to be a sarcastic way:

Bring back the Weald, I say. Bring back the bears and the wolves and the wildcats. Bring back the eagles and the adders and packs of wild dogs. Bring back a little magic into this overfarmed country. Who cares if the occasional tourist or country inhabitant gets killed or eaten. That’s what the same people want for Africa and the Amazon, don’t they.

Well, yes, actually, that sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

It is really lucky – in terms of survival of some species, if not biodiversity – that all the creatures we hate and fear seem to thrive on our opposition if they don’t get made extinct. Any creatures that we like seem to be going extinct in direct proportion to how much we value them. Except for pets, but I doubt that the pet species could survive for long without Pedigree Chum and Whiskas.

One BBC writer on hating magpies on the grounds of an almost universal UK superstition:

The sight of another lone magpie still stops me short. Far from wanting the numbers to halve, I instantly want them to double.

Maybe the point is relevant in a wider context. Our desire to wipe out certain wild species might just serve to double their numbers, following some obscure law of nature….