27 October 2005

Return of The Beaver

Reintroduction of species to their previous haunts sounds like a brilliant idea in the squeaky white labs of the scientists and the natural fibre igloos of the environmentalists. However, the real world is considerably less squeaky and tweedy.

The introduction, or re-introduction, of species to an area invariably goes out of control, and they need to introduce some other beastie to do away with the first beastie. The second beastie then eats all the things it isn't supposed to, which usually, tragically and amusingly are even more rare than the things that were introduced in the first place

So the decision to reintroduce beavers to Britain is doomed to disaster. Obviously, the beaver was not their first choice. Wolves and Bears have been mooted over the years, but being large and snarly, the public understandably freaked. So they went with beavers, which are altogether more cuddly. And vegetarian, which keeps the hordes placated.

To illustrate just how stupid this all is, they plan to fence them into a 500 acre site to begin with, while they see how it goes. How typical that they would choose to fence in an animal who is uniquely armed to facilitate the swift destruction of its confines. So, in the event that they go mad on low-grade Britsh trees and become rabid meat-eaters, they'll be on the loose. I can see "Mad Beaver Disease" headlines already. I bet they can transmit tuberculosis as well, which would take the focus of the poor badgers for a while.

Why does Man feel, with everything we have done and seen, that we can work with Nature? Doesn't anyone read the papers? You can't fence living creatures things in, especially ones that eat fences. As Jeff Goldblum prophetically states in Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way".

Since anything big enough to eat beavers has also been eradicated from these shores, their numbers will spiral. Since they're not also introducing predators, it will be down to humans to control numbers. And if the people performing the cull wear the wrong colour jackets, it'll be made illegal. You can't re-introduce part of the food chain without the other parts of the food chain. Their numbers will spiral without natural predators until the point that all our forests have been cut down and made into dams, and then they'll all die. Which will be pleasant. Lots of stagnant pools full of rotting beavers. Mmmm...

The linked article states "beavers could also help keep waterways clear of debris." What? Assuming Sir David Attenborough wasn't lying to me all these years, beavers build dams. Isn't that the opposite of "keeping waterways free of debris"?

Basically, this is a stupid idea.

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