Sunday, March 25, 2007

Green Issues

The government (Defra) and certain conservation organisations are looking for a new scapegoat. Why? Songbird populations are declining. Here, now, is an obvious choice; the Ring-necked Parakeet. They are worried there is now too many of them and now, typically after the horse has bolted, are pointing the finger at these adaptable parakeets. We’ve had Magpies and raptors blamed in the past, but there still no evidence against these apparently nasty birds. If the much-maligned street pigeon looked just a little more aggressive, it would be on the list too. No, let’s choose a non-native, non-natural, invasive, foreign species and one most likely to be seen by the great British public in London and the Southeast, and apply these descriptive terms so loved by pseudo-environmental journalists. To put it more bluntly; they are angling for a cull.

Ironically, one conservation organisation in particular has probably inadvertently done more to aid the survival and spread of the parakeets that any other factor. Encouraging us to feed the birds with their safe nuts, birds cakes and the rest of the products available from the now big business that is the garden feeding market, it’s no wonder the parakeet has become so successful. There is no evidence for this, but then again, there is no published evidence that the Ring-necked Parakeet is causing a decline in hole-nesting species. So after feeding them up on your hard-earned money, the government may now in future use more of your hard-earned money to cull the population. But, we will have to wait for the results of the CSL study, by which time there will be several thousand more. A cull will never work. How could you remove a population consisting of thousands of parakeets whose current distribution is centred on the largest metropolitan area in Europe?

Targeting other birds is really just an excuse to avoid looking at the real issues here. A bit like the Ruddy Duck scenario. The primary causes of species extinction and decline are due to the effects resulting from an explosive increase in the human population on the planet. Of course, you’d never here anyone mention the word ‘over-population’. If saving native songbirds is the priority and culling is the way to go about it, then let’s start on the free range domestic cat!


Katie said...

But what does the RSPB really say?

'Recent media coverage has suggested that a cull of ring-necked parakeets may be necessary, due to concerns about their potential impact on native bird species. However, there is currently no strong evidence to suggest that such impacts are occurring in the UK and the RSPB is not in favour of a cull of parakeets at this time'

Fraser Simpson said...

Hi Katie,

That is good news!

Last year, though, a spokesman said something along the lines of "although parakeets are exotic, it is getting to the point where action is going to have to be taken". What kind of action?

Being a 'garden visitor' it's bound to be a sensitive issue/species as the bird-feeding (but non-birding so to speak)public may fail to understand the possible need to cull them.


HampshireBirder said...

well said fraser!