Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Eer mate, wanna Slow-worm?

Some things make your ecological blood boil. For example, having to fork out huge sums of money to relocate Water Voles from a wetland habitat creation scheme that will ultimately be better for Water Voles, and having to move said Voles to another new wetland that has to be fenced to prevent colonisation by the Water Voles that already frequent this Vole-filled landscape. What a waste of money. How much extra vole-filled wetland habitat could you have created with the money?
And then there’s reptiles. Where permitted development occurs, such protected animals are often moved out of harm’s way – translocated to new sites. Now imagine, could we get to the situation where ‘ecologists’ sidle up to reserve managers, touting bags of reptiles around as they slip gently to the ecological dark side. “Wanna Slow-worm for your reserve mate? How about an Adder or two?” Hmmm.
Now don’t get me wrong. Water Voles and reptiles deserve protection, and we must ensure that development takes account of protected species and habitats. But to end up spending huge sums of money looking after, and translocating, 100s if not 1000s of individual animals to unoccupied sites is surely not the best use of money. What percentage survive anyway?

Rather than waste excessive money on the individual animals surely it is more important to focus on the creation of new, good quality habitat, to provide a net gain for the species in the longer-term.

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