Friday, April 11, 2014

Scottish wildcat trapped in 1942

A consequence of trapping is that you can seldom be sure what you will catch. The Scottish Wildcat is now 'critically endangered, and the latest surveys suggest less than 100 individuals survive in the wild. Numbers originally decreased due to deforestation and human persecution, but today the primary threat is cross-mating with feral domestic cats'.

From the Aberdeen Journal - Friday 24 April 1942, via British Newspaper Archive:

Wild Cat Trapped

A genuine specimen of the native wild cat was found trapped by Mr Low, trapper on Fasque moors last week. As far as known, writes correspondent, it is over eighty years since the last wild cat found in Kincardineshire was shot in Glen Dye.

Monday, March 05, 2012

It seems like foxes are getting bigger in Britain. One scientist speculates that "one possible explanation is that they are getting better fed in urban areas."

Assuming that bigger coyotes is not something we want to encourage, then certainly restricting their access to human related food sources is a good thing. But we have been arguing that for a long time, albeit it for a different reason.

What has just occurred to me is that 'managing' their population may have the same effect, by artificially reducing competition for their natural food sources. Under normal circumstances their population, and perhaps their size, is to some extent at least controlled by the availability of food - the carrying capacity of their environment. But when we start controlling their numbers by hunting and trapping, the prey:predator ratio increases, so can we expect their health and size to increase too? 'Health of the herd' is often cited by hunters as a good reason to hunt, so perhaps the answer is yes?

So, unless we want bigger coyotes, this seems like just another reason to stop trying to manage wildlife and let nature take its course. It probably knows best.

Friday, January 28, 2011

When we don't hear the whole story

I have received two worrying posts via Facebook in the last 24 hours.

The first was a link from an acquaintance of mine who traps and does everything he can to promote that activity. He was interested by an article Biodiversity benefits from new snaring scheme - National Park agrees about how black grouse conservation in Scotland is being aided by trapping predators such as foxes and weasels. Which is no doubt true, but if one looks a bit deeper into the story, the RSPB are the other lead body working on black grouse conservation. Their emphasis is very much on habitat management, and "reducing fox and crow predation where essential". Notice the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust never mentioned crows. By cherry-picking at bits of the whole story, they have come up with an article that shows how wonderful snaring is.

Perhaps more worrying, because it is about something I agree with, is this video made by Hellmans in support of food security.

The problem here are the numbers they quoted for blueberry production in NS: "NS production in 2007 was half what it was in 2003". Now, this is actually true, 13500 tons, down from 29300. And if this were a trend, yes, we should be worried, but it is not born out by the statistics. One could equally have compared 2008 with 2007 and said that harvest is up 54%.

Take a look and you will see that 2003 saw an abnormally high production, with an unprecedented yield of 0.77 tons/acre, while 2007 was low at 0.34 tons/acre. The ten year average was 0.49 tons/acre (my maths). No doubt yields vary considerably according to the weather and other factors.

What should be noted from these figures is that the acreage under production has risen fairly steadily in the past 10 years. Totally counter to the argument that the video is making, and however much one wants to support a cause like food security, one has to wonder just how reliable all their other numbers are.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Enlightened thinking on coyote control

Broomfield, Colorado, has just launched their draft Coexistence with Wildlife Policy, which uses two levels of hazing of coyotes to discourage them from coming into contact with humans, in an effort to avoid the use of lethal control.

Full story. A shame the Nova Scotia government is not so enlightened.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Snow and steam

I remember the winter of 1963. School was closed for time when the outside toilets froze up. We thawed our 1/3 pint bottles of milk around the stove in our classroom.

On 1 February, 1963, Geoffrey Jones began filming "Snow" which was to win 14 major awards and an Oscar nomination in 1965. Jones was already working on a film for the British Railways Board when he had the idea of making a film contrasting the comfort of the passengers with the efforts of the workmen to keep the trains running during this abnormal winter.

The footage we see is mostly from the Western Region. There is also a tantalising glimpse of a Somerset and Dorset freight train as well as some archive pre-WW II shots of Jubilee class locomotive 'Barbados'.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The state of journalism in Canada?

National Post columnist Don Martin wrote at length about the mistakes made by the Green Party in the last election. None of this is news, and pales into insignificance alongside his remark that he, and possibly other reporters in Ottawa, could not name another Green candidate.

I could excuse this ignorance if it came from Joe Public, but not from a journalist. Surely they should keep themselves better informed than this? It doesn't take long on the internet to find out who the candidates are, who the deputy leader is, or to answer most other questions that an inquiring mind might ask. Has Mr Martin already forgotten the name Blair Wilson? And does he live in one of the few ridings that didn't run a Green candidate?

If this really is indicative of the intelligence of the people in the media whose job it is to keep the public informed, then Canada is in real trouble.