Re introduced species

introduced spp


I think this is a great cartoon by Ralph Underhill.  A clever take on the word ‘introduced’ and great expressions on the faces of the grey and red squirrels.

Rather bizarrely the CLA issued a press release at the beginning of this week supporting Owen Paterson’s culling of grey squirrels on his land.  Well, there’s sucking up and there’s extreme sucking up, and this is the latter!

This was in response to a shocking article in the Daily Mail which described the Secretary of State for the Environment (and some other stuff) showing off a photograph of him holding up some traps with dead squirrels in them.  The most shocking aspect of the story was that Paterson was described as having been ‘tipped as a future Tory leader’.  Aaaaarghhhhhh!

Whoever gave that tip is either a genius or a fool (if any such person existed).  Betfair doesn’t list Paterson in a list of 47 potential bets on the next Tory leader which includes such unlikely wagers as Louise Bagshawe (84/1), and John Bercow (399/1).  But maybe we are thinking the Tory leader after that or even after that…

The grey squirrel seems to have been released into the UK by a Mr TV Brocklehurst in about 1876 – and he was a very naughty boy, but I’m pretty sure that he would have been a CLA member had they been around at the time.  In fact the CLA’s members are responsible for many of the introduced species that they are now so keen to cull.

As I wrote on Tuesday, I went looking for another introduced species on Tuesday evening; little owl.  I made my task quite difficult by wanting to see one as close to Lilford Hall (where they were successfully introduced) as possible. As I travelled the short distance to Lilford I passed an introduced muntjac deer and a reintroduced red kite.  I looked over the fence at Lilford Hall and saw a pair of introduced red-legged partridges on the drive.  There were introduced rabbits in the fields and introduced Canada geese by the river.  I failed in my quest to see a little owl.

I have a soft spot for little owls and I stand up for them even though they are an introduced species.  Little owls are an interesting introduced species because they are ‘near-native’ (if you like) since their natural geographic range extends to the other side of the English Channel – unlike the ring-necked parakeet, pheasant, ruddy duck etc  (and rl partridge either doesn’t or only just gets there depending on your point of view) which come from different continents.  This is the crucial point about introduced species – they are being introduced into fauna and flora with which they have not evolved and which have not evolved with them. Sometimes introduced species are benign but often they are not.  If anything will be, it will be a ‘near native’ introduction like the little owl.  But they can’t be doing much harm around here because I struggle to find them.  Of course it might be me!


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21 Replies to “Re introduced species”

  1. To be fair to Mr Brocklehurst, in 1876 one could probably have pleaded ignorance of the detrimental effect that introducing exotic fauna and flora would have. The astonishing thing is that in spite of the clear evidence now available to us of the harm that can be done, one way and another, we keep on tipping exotic species out into the countryside.

  2. I sometimes wonder!
    The ruddy duck "must" be culled to protect a Spanish duck - the red-legged partridge and pheasant get far less publicity as "introduced" because some people enjoy shooting them - and then we have grey squirrels......
    Is it really down to economics! We can't afford to do anything about the grey because it is too widespread, despite it trying to drive our own native red out!
    Let's face it, introductions go badly wrong a lot of the time, but what we do about it depends on it's scale on a cuddle 'nice' factor, or an economic one, or on the 'love to shoot it' scale.
    We really mess it up most of the time - humans, I give up!

  3. Louise Bagshawe (84/1)

    Does Betfair know something we don't? Does La Mensch intend to return, face and hopes lifted?

  4. Could it be that the present government consist of people so remote from "ordinary" people that they never listen to us? Many, not all, of the large estate owners hardly spend any time on their land observing wildlife. The only time they venture into the country is during the "lets murder wildlife" season. The estate owners have a responsibility to care for the wildlife on those estates. Perhaps those in government who are decision makers regarding the"countryside" could be educated to understand the importance of Nature? I suppose the lack of understanding could come from the lack of teaching the subject in schools. The "lets introduce something new" brigade are the most ignorant of all. If I were the PM I would dismiss Ministers who could not perform their duties in a responsible and sympathetic manner. But then, I suppose the cabinet would need to be re-shuffled on a regular basis?

  5. The magic sign go 66/1 on Rambo, I suppose anything is possible with the way things are going. Perhaps I'll stick a freshly minted 'Winston' on Nick Soames..

    1. Joe W - 'like having a wardrobe fall on you with the key sticking out'

      1. Clearly the words of a scorned woman. I'm compelled to point out that the Nicky Soames I know was widely regarded as the one of the finest lovers of his generation. Although to be fair, I haven't seen much of him since Eton.

    1. Doug - "Great" should be retired on the grounds of overwork and exhaustion.

      These things appear from nowhere and infest every piece of corporate motivational baloney, particularly that foisted about by management consultants. And how do all corporate bodies decide simultaneously to change their Director of Operations to Chief Executive Officer to Chief Operating Occifers? Is it some network maintained by the MBA alumni? Osmosis? It's one of the gert lush mysteries of our time.

        1. Doug - The Average Escape is one of my favourite war films; The Average Gatsby is a rather overrated book, and The Quite Large Wall of China can't be seen from space (nor from my office, come to that).

          1. Mark. Made me laugh. Ta!
            Of course, ting is, China's wall IS great. As was that WWII escape. But Frosties (and these cartoons)...?
            Well... whatever floats yer boat, I guess.

    1. Douglas - must be me! I can think of four places where I used to see them nearby where I no longer do.

  6. May be you Mark. May be me too, but I used to see little owls every day at both ends of my south Cambs village but have only had one sighting in last 18 months which is rather worrying.

  7. Hi Mark,think that link must be the best one ever,my guess is he is living off of previous generations names and if she was a scorned woman then I am sure she could have added a lot more special instances.On a more wildlife theme I feel we do need in certain circumstances to control numbers of some introductions as for instance we ought to be able to have Red Squirrels all over the country.

  8. Introduced to Great Britain in the Iron Age, and presumably reducing the range of the Mountain Hare as a result, Brown Hare is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species, except in Northern Ireland, where it's a Victorian introduction and the Irish Hare, a subspecies of the Mountain Hare, is similarly likely to have its range reduced if there's no further intervention:

    How long does it take to become 'indigenous' after introduction?

    1. "How long does it take to become ‘indigenous’ after introduction?"

      A very good question. Some time ago I searched N W Simmonds Evolution of Crop Plants - during an online debate between xanthophobic hand-wringers and normal people - for the origins of 32 non-fruit'n'nut crops we frequently grow and consume in the UK. None were indigenous - all introduced by humans, another non-indigenous species.

  9. At the risk of annihalation I'm going to support Owen - up to a point. Even if Greys aren't the bird predators suggested by some (and the science suggest they aren't) they don't contribute much to the countryside and are without doubt the major factor in the decline of Red Squirrel as well as doing a lot of damage to trees.

    Going back to the debate about deer, there is a question of sensibilities - I can well imagine Owen's towny colleagues, however right wing, baulking at the sight of a dead animal - no bad thing ! I was always being asked by TV companies to see deer being shot, which the FC always tried to help with to explain the ecological reasons - far beyond just growing trees for money - but I would never allow them to film the actual shot - which i suspect was what they were all after. I felt it was gratuitous and added nothing to the debate. Contrary to popular belief, the actual moment the ranger pulls the trigger happens very suddenly and without the drama people associate with fox hunting, but all the same I just didn't feel it was right or helpful - and if I were Owen I'd choose more carefully who I showed off my dead squirrels to !

  10. Why the introduction of Red Kite into Northern Ireland I believe it is against the Law to introduce a species nowadays. No proof that they had ever bred in NI apart from a non peer reviewed paper by surprisingly the present director of RSPB in Northern Ireland.


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