I guess that my interest was piqued by two things initially, firstly my attempts to turn out newly purchased house's small back
Shortly after my interest was aroused the subject received some national attention which concerned beavers in Scotland and also in the South West of England. After this there was more talk of wolves being introduced into Scotland but then the pro rewilders seemed to be toning it down a tad with talk of fluffy kitty cats (Lynx) perhaps being a more publically acceptable option. Ok perhaps I am not doing either side of the argument for rewilding any justice here but the subject is far from black and white and has many differing views upon it one of which was expressed far better than I could here on a blog post by CountrySide Tales, but I would like to add my thoughts based on the little knowledge I have gleaned upon it so far.
Firstly there is the general public's reaction to the release of apex predators in our country. There is the usual sensationalism provided by our beloved tabloids:- "Parents tell of horror as fox attacks sleeping baby", "Terrified jogger, 17, attacked by FOX which sank its teeth into her leg escapes by using advice she learned to survive bear attacks" and so on. Yes I agree that an attack by a predator on a child or adult is not something to be taken lightly and must be terrifying for those involved. But how many of you have been bitten or nipped by a dog or scratched by a cat and then had it splashed over the front pages? Only the very worst cases of dog attacks are treated this way and even these far outway the number of fox attacks, but are not our dogs and cats themselves apex or evolved from apex predators? As for the spread of urban foxes we, as a species only have ourselves to blame. A short and interesting article from the New Scientist may be found here which perhaps helps to debunk some of the newspaper hype over urban foxes. So all things being equal how calmly would you think the tabloids would report the release of bear or wolf into our countryside? With as much gusto as the latest B list celeb getting her tits/his dick out at a drunken beach party no doubt!
I think a problem with our perception of 'wild animals', especially of predators is a general lack of knowledge and education. We still hold on to our primitive fears of tooth, talon and claw dripping with blood and ripping into our flesh but we fail to understand that the earth has been around for millions upon millions of years before we blighted the planet with our selfishness and greed and that the flora and fauna had evolved over this time, weaving itself so intrinsically together and attaining a balance that produced the beautiful and balancing living orb we call Earth. But this orb is a delicate thing and we still do not understand the full effects of the disappearance and extinction of each organism that we cause upon it, only recently are we slowly awaking to the fact that we need nature far more than nature needs us. So yes, I believe that education is needed to open people's eyes to the complexity of the ecological systems that we live amongst and depend upon for our own existence. But I also believe that this parasitic species, called humans, has a population that is exploding out of control and is spreading like a bacterial plaque over this once green and blue orb. You perhaps think I am being a tad over dramatic, perhaps I've not just lost my mind to the 'dog' but also the marbles within have gone walkies? But consider this, look at a picture taken of our planet on its dark side from space and does it not remind you of something? Perhaps a test sample of bacteria in a lab glass?...
And then there are the practicalities of rewilding such as where? when? how? etc. Groups lobbying for are now turning their attention to something more cuddly than a slathering wolf of rabid grizzly bear, a little pussy cat known as the European Lynx...aahhhh how cute....
Oops perhaps not as cute as you first thought...
But that's the point of rewilding after all the clue is in part of the name rewilding. Most advocates seem to be in favour of introducing rewilding into the Scottish highlands where there still relatively large expanses of thinly populated and open ground. There are already projects underway to try and expand areas such as what remains of the ancient Caledonian forest that once covered much of Scotland but one obstacle to encouraging woodland to grow anew is the marauding and savage packs of.....deer apparently. The idea, as I understand it, is to introduce apex predators to keep the deer from overgrazing certain areas by keeping them on the move, much as the wolves did in Yellowstone. Would the cuddly Lynx be up too such a task? I am not too sure but I do think they will at least make herds of deer skittish and more unlikely remain in one area for too long, the Lynx is a predator worthy of some respect weighing in up to a healthy 30kg for a large male. Also the European Lynx apparently favours deer in its diet but will take a wide assortment of prey including sheep. Ah sheep, which means livestock, which means money, which means somebody has to pay. As was the case when White tailed Eagles were reintroduced to Scotland some sort of compensation is being talked about if, or more likely when, sheep fall prey to the Lynx.
And what if apex predators are introduced? How far will they spread if successful? Will they attack humans? What will happen to domestic pets when out on the trails? How will they be monitored? and finally the question the greedy always ask...what will we get out of it? So the question of rewilding is a huge minefield of ifs and buts, with greed always in the background and short sighted concerns in the majority of people's minds. Now I expect you think that I am bestow upon you some great wisdom either for or against rewilding but I am sorry to disappoint you but I have no answers to the million and one concerns and questions on both side of the debate.
For me though the answer is very simple and that is to introduce Lynx back into the wild amongst other measures to turn vast tracts of land wild once more. If we are to survive as a race I firmly believe that we need to reinstate the natural balance and order in our world before it is too late and the world decides to make one more species extinct....us. I hope to learn more on the effects of rewilding and its practicalities on our small, over populated isles and with in mind I have volunteered my services for a week in September working to help improve the Caledonian forest that I spoke of earlier in an attempt to see first hand what it all entails. So with a limited knowledge but a thirst for more I am more than open to your opinions upon rewilding and any more info from either side of the coin is openly welcome.
Oh and finally two posts in a day from moi? well to be honest I have been home from work vomiting away quite merrily today and both posts were already half written so to pass the time between toilet visits I've added some more then scheduled em so they didn't appear at the same time and confuse you. By the time this one comes online I will hopefully snoring me bonce off. Til the next time take care.
John with the dicky tummy.