This morning I did a little interview on the Today programme (1hr 21 minutes into programme) – about Labour’s new policy of an owl for everyone. What a hoot!
Yesterday the Labour Party Press Twitter account was hacked (by the Provisional RSPB or the Provisional Barn Owl Trust or the Provisional Hawk and Owl Trust?) and promised an owl for everyone. This story had everyone smiling – a political party looking slightly foolish and promising the Earth to the electorate – it could only be a mistake. What a hoot!
The Today programme wanted to have a little laugh about this, and so I was in the BBC Radio Northampton studio at 0715 this morning wondering what the first question might be.
There are, very roughly, c60,000 pairs of owls in the UK (Little Owl, Short-eared Owl, Long-eared Owl, Barn Owl and Tawny Owl) and 60,ooo,ooo of us. That’s 500 of us per owl. For us each to have our own owl, preferably flying around the countryside rather than sitting in a shed at the bottom of the garden, would require each to have the equivalent of 1000 mice a year to keep going – so Labour have to find a way to provide c60,000,000.000 (60 billion) more mice running around our feet too.
A healthy countryside would provide more wildlife generally, and those species near the top of the food chain, like owls, would prosper as a result. Yes, let’s have more owls – let’s have more wildlife – let’s have a richer countryside, please!
And people do actually want more wildlife. Let’s hope that all political parties remember the owls when writing their election manifestos ahead of next May’s UK general election.
PS there are about 17 million residents per pair of nesting Hen Harriers in England – sign here for the obvious solution.