Saturday, 2 January 2010

Wild Boar Letter

Firstly, I would like to say "Happy New Year" to you.
Secondly, I recieved an e-mail from a person that read an article regarding the "wild boar" on my blog, but could not post their reply as they are not signed up to blogger.
I have pasted the message below, with my response under it, please add your comments if you wish.


Hi Rob
Apologies for the I admit rather lecturing tone of the following but I came across your blog about "taking out the boar" and got a bit passionate about it and then started thinking more widely about the problems with conservation in this country and the proliferation of dogs and cats, species reintroduction etc etc. I wanted to put my thoughts up on the site but then realised I needed to subscribe to something so I am emailing it to you. Love the photographs by the way. The piece is in no way aimed at you, I don't know your views or knowledge, it's just me getting ranty about my own opinions! He he!
Whilst I completely agree with what you imply about the relative rights of wild and domestic animals in your blog about boar, you do rather contradict yourself when you say in one feed that: "I love all animals and this includes dogs, but I never discriminate. I stick up for wild boar and snakes as well as domestic animals" And then, in the next feed you say: "I mean it’s not like they are bears, tigers or crocodile's!" (apologies for being picky Rob, I'm just trying to make a wider point here)
Bears have a place in our forests too, although a lot of work would need to be done to restore them first. In most European countries bears, (as well as wolves and lynx), are being either reintroduced or, encouraged to re-colonise their former territories. In fact, Britain has also signed up to the Bern conventions that requires us to investigate re-introducing extant species. That means bears, wolves, lynx and, (if they hadn't managed it themselves), wild boar. Studies, (particularly in Yellowstone Park US), have clearly shown that apex predators are essential to the long term health of local ecosystems and, that human management of wilderness areas without these natural predators leads to long term, decline and further and continued extinctions until little remains.
It seems to me that in most cases, our British countryside's establishment is more interested in conserving it's own way of life than restoring the land they "manage" back to health. In fact, we are so used to our degraded wilderness environments that most people aren't even aware of how degraded they are. Places like the Forest of Dean, the New Forest and many others look healthy enough but could they sustain the bears that once roamed there? The answer is no. This means these environments, although beautiful , (don't get me wrong here I am thankful and appreciative although a little angry about what we have got), are significantly degraded and that, long term, that trend is likely continue as long as people remain blind, ignorant or prejudiced to the way natural systems operate. The above link goes to an article about how wolf activity has been proven to restore the flora and fauna generally while it is the environment's ability to sustain the omnivorous bears that is the real litmus test of it's health and sustainability. The objections to large animal reintroductions are entirely predictable. being always the same fears about danger to humans and livestock and now it seems, pets!!. The truth is the risk to humans is miniscule while the threat to livestock always has to be managed. But, (and here's the connection back to dogs), it remains a fact that domestic dogs maim and kill considerably more people every year than any wild animal ever does, even where wild boar, bears and wolves roam wild. (Spain has 2500 wolves and there has not been one case of attack on humans in living memory).
Dogs are the real problem here. Likewise with livestock attacks, the vast majority of these are done by, you guessed it, dogs! In this country domesticated animals are treated as having more rights than wild animals and that needs to change. Don't get me started on cats! Can you imagine the uproar if someone's dog was actually killed by a wild boar? The fact that dogs kill people on a regular basis wouldn't even get a mention I suspect. In my view we have to reassess our whole approach to the natural world we steward and to the animals in it. Old fashioned, myopic ideas about conservation need to give way to macro thinking and ecological restoration based on the latest scientific observations about how natural systems operate. Think outside of the box for a moment! Imagine a British Isles whose wilderness areas are restored to a level of beauty and biodiversity that can sustain bears. (If you want to see the most breathtakingly beautiful areas left in Europe go to where there are bears). Imagine learning to live with and enjoying wild predators as others do in many parts of western Europe, not to mention the world. We could reap the considerable benefits of doing so while easily managing the costs incurred.

My last point is this, we all expect villagers in India to live alongside tigers so that we can live in a world where tigers exist, many people in this country donate money to the conservation of animals abroad. But, if we ourselves are not prepared to manage living alongside the natural predators and large animals like boar that are native to our homeland, what right, what credibility and what moral authority do we have to talk about the conservation of lions and tigers and elephants abroad? None! If we were really serious about conservation we would be setting an example through our own actions at home. It's the usual double standards and racism I'm afraid.
In the end righting these wrongs is a matter of sensibly balancing rights and responsibilities. The pendulum has swung way too far in the direction of protecting the rights of domesticated animals, pets and livestock and the financial interests of industries like pheasant shooting . The trouble is most people here don't know what an intact European ecosystem looks like and are not aware that we don't really have one in this country. This imbalance needs to be redressed I feel if we are to restore the heart of our nation. It seems to me, the heart of any nation resides in the health of it's wilderness and countryside. After all it is learning to live with the uniqueness of natural environments that shapes and characterises all the localised traditions, customs and culture that have evolved into the identities that we share today even in the cities. Go to any community in the world that thrives alongside wild nature and you will find a strong and vibrant culture along with a heathy respect for the natural world we all depend on.
Bring back the wolves, bears and lynx I say!!

Warm regards


My response

Hi F,

In my blog, I said that I love all animals. This is true and just because I compared the wild boar to a crocodile and a bear, it doesn't mean that I do not care for the latter two any less. This is something that you have presumed.
I was addressing the public with this statement and it is just one of numerous newspaper articles, which I have written, defending our wildlife.
When I compared the wild boar to a crocodile and a bear, it was because a lot of local people have been over reacting towards the boar, calling for them to be exterminated before a child gets killed. By comparing them to an animal, which can kill a human being swiftly was my way of trying to show them how much they are over reacting. I mean I couldn't compare the wild boar to a car wreck could I? It had to be another animal.
In my latest newspaper article I have mentioned tigers, crocodiles, bears and sharks. I did this to highlight how people in other countries live alongside deadly animals on a daily basis, to try and show them that it is possible.
I also pointed out that the wild boar have more right to be in the Forest of Dean than our cute little fallow deer, as the wild boar are native, whereas the fallow deer are not.
Again this has nothing to do with me disliking fallow deer as I do not discriminate. I give the facts and I do not presume, as presumption is not based on fact!
Just because I have a passion for our so called dangerous and ugly creatures, such as the snake and wild boar, it doesn't mean that I care for the fish in our ponds and rivers or the birds in our skies any less!

It is easy to judge someone by reading an extract from one article they have written. I have learnt from this and will try not to come over as contradictory in the future, even if I am not being so.

Kind Regards

Robin Ward

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