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"We are as gods, and have to get good at it."

(22 Posts)
Bags Thu 27-Jun-13 06:33:11

Interesting essay on meso-predators and apex predators. A new look, for some of us, at the badger cull.

Aka Thu 27-Jun-13 07:27:17

Oh yes, once we started interfering in ecosystems this is what will inevitably happen. But all the major predators of badgers were extinct hundreds of years ago so there has to be another factor at work here to explain the explosion in badger numbers.

Aka Thu 27-Jun-13 08:05:56

Interesting link though.

Aka Thu 27-Jun-13 08:07:47

But we cannot start playing god. We just don't have enough knowledge about all the subtleties within ecosystems and may end up doing more harm than good.

Aka Thu 27-Jun-13 08:08:47

Though that's what we're doing anyway by just expanding and taking over the green spaces.

Aka Thu 27-Jun-13 08:09:08

I give up, too complicated and too worrying.

Bags Thu 27-Jun-13 08:39:47

The author of the essay does point out the effect meso-predator culling has had in other countries. They seem to be successful effects.

At any rate, this article helped me to understand the government's decision about the badger cull. I had been against it until I read this, which seems to me the best argument on either side of the debate so far.

Butty Thu 27-Jun-13 08:57:26

"..ecosystem management is a dynamic and active process, not a matter of passive protection."

This comment by Emma Marris made a great deal of sense of me.

Butty Thu 27-Jun-13 08:58:17

... to me .

j08 Thu 27-Jun-13 09:43:01

I just feel for farmers who see a herd of cattle, probably the result of many years hard work, being brought down by Tb. So long as the culling is humane well, needs must.....

janerowena Thu 27-Jun-13 11:58:52

It's a fascinating article of the sort of conundrum that has made my head spin for years. In this area deer culling takes place, in Kent it was wild boar, near my mother in Sussex it's badgers. When we lived in Hampshire it was the wild ponies.

Makes you wonder if we should be next. grin

janeainsworth Thu 27-Jun-13 12:15:15

Thanks for the link Bags. I think Matt Ridley is brilliant.

gracesmum Thu 27-Jun-13 15:08:01

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo not the ponies! sad

Tegan Thu 27-Jun-13 20:53:24


nightowl Thu 27-Jun-13 22:46:24

Is this the same Matt Ridley who was chairman of northern rock? I hope his science credentials are more impressive than his economic ones hmm

j08 Thu 27-Jun-13 22:49:43

Can't be the same one can it? He wouldn't have time for it all would he?

I don't actually know. smile

j08 Thu 27-Jun-13 22:51:21

Blimey! He's been a busy man!

nightowl Thu 27-Jun-13 23:02:45

I meant economics, not economic

Eloethan Fri 28-Jun-13 16:35:33

I believe some of the efforts to introduce certain "predators" into an environment have backfired. The cane toad in, I think, Australia was introduced to get rid of beetles but became a greater threat to the natural environment. Hedgehogs in the western isles of Scotland were introduced to get rid of snails and slugs but were found to be affecting the bird population because they ate the eggs.

Sometimes we mess with nature at our peril.

Bags Fri 28-Jun-13 17:03:21

Introductions of non-native species to an area is completely different from re-introduction of a native species, or the control of a species that has got out of control because its natural predators have been removed.

Tegan Fri 28-Jun-13 17:08:56

Look at the problems caused in Yellowstone when the wolves were wiped out.

NfkDumpling Fri 28-Jun-13 17:10:37

I see his reasoning and, in the case of badgers, I fear he's right, but it has to be very, very carefully thought out. Too often new species have been introduced with insufficient forethought and culling has gone ahead with gusto to extremes. Not all badgers need to be culled. There are setts in the east of England, where the population is much more sparse which are TB free (so I've read).

And how does his theory fit with the rise in hawk numbers? More marsh harriers has resulted in plummeting avocet numbers. But the marsh harrier, a native bird, is at the top of it's food chain.