You have to smile a little at the enthusiasm with which the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph (not online) trumpet the problems caused by ‘alien’ species. The ‘battle to stop foreign invaders killing off native British wildlife’ is costing £1.7bn a year apparently, including £70m to get rid of Japanese Knotweed ahead of the Olympics.
Those pesky foreigners! The papers are right, of course, what else would we expect from the Daily Mail (?), to highlight the damage, and the cost of the damage, of non-native species. But, of course, it isn’t the species’s fault!
Grey Squirrels didn’t get here on their own – they were released by landowners. All those pesky Muntjac Deer didn’t swim here from India and China – they were released by landowners. Canada Geese do apparently sometimes get here on their own but that isn’t why we have so many of them in our parks and lakes – we have the Royal family, JamesII, to thank for them.
Yesterday was the start of the Pheasant shooting season. The economic value of Pheasants is up there in the millions of pounds. They are a bit like Grey Squirrels and Muntjac Deer – they are non-natives where there are concerns, some proved, some not, that they may be harming some native wildlife. And we are spending lots of money killing them every year. One is seen as a cost and the other is seen as a fillip to the local economy. Is there really that much difference?
I’d rather be shot of the lot of them – bang, bang!