Posted: 21/12/2014 at 02:53
No, I don't think I'm getting you wrong really, it's just a matter of fields within fields. I'm not up for controlling rodents in the whole countryside, obviously - I love mice and rats, and save them whenever I can from the cats, but more importantly they are an important part of the food chain. I find it very handy to have the house and garden free of them, what with the Leptospirosis and all that, and believe me, the house and garden are free of them! but I don't see mice and rats as a sinister plague about to "steal the food from the cook's own ladles" so to speak. Not that I think you were implying that I thought that at all! but I like to keep things realistic.
I admit it, you have me there with the nesting, while others are feverishly "attracting wildlife to their gardens" I really don't think I'd like to encourage wild birds to nest anywhere near my house - it seems just silly out here in the wilds. They are far better nesting in the Bern or in the woods, or the hedgerow where the cats don't go! I do have quite a big garden with food put out every day at the feeding station, and birds adorn the nearby trees, but they really don't seem to be interested in nesting in the shrubs - or at least, I very much hope not! Any bird that did so would certainly be near the end of it's genetic line - the numbers just don't add up, and I can only hope they are frightened away by the rich predatory presence because of instinct!
Odd things that are not so obvious in towns play into the picture here though too. People don't often take account of whether they live on the Adret or Ubac side of a valley in towns. In more rugged parts of the country, those who's hillsides face south get lots of rabbits, birds etc. Those who live on the Ubac don't get rabbits anywhere near so much, and a lot fewer birds nesting - it's too cold and windy compared to the other side of the valley. Humans don't take much notice of such things (with the possible exception of gardeners) nor do mice and rats who prefer to live near human habitations and food stocks, livestock are fenced here, and pets, well their houses are heated and the lazy things spend most of there time snoozing, doing a spot of ratting, but generally waiting to be fed out of the desperately unethical, industrially produced meat-industry-surplus filled cans.
Yes I agree with your implication that the problem is, by and large, innovative humans and there many utterly wastefully made environments, than a problem with cats doing there catty thing. When we mess things up we get knock on effects. I've noticed the difference between rabbits, and too many rabbits, and how it affects the vegetation on the other side of the valley. I've also noticed the fox factor (and others have brought it to my notice) keeping the rabbit population lower than critical mass - a good year for rabbits means more foxes, but alas, more foxes take more lambs and "they are worth money you know!" And the critical mass thing is very scientific, the relatively recent introduction here of rabbit plague as an unstoppable alternative to predatory control works like this: when the concentration goes above a certain number of rabbits per acre, a new epidemic erupts, and you see them all dyeing in misery by the side of the road. The eagles and buzzards have a great time until the rabbits run out, or a shepherd starts sneaking out a few poison carcasses, in case the now more apparent buzzards and eagles take the lambs. It's all so much more complicated where we people are involved.
In the towns it's even more messed up, but I quietly hope that the ability of nature to eventually adapt will prevail "look at urban foxes and badgers" I think - "they are now making a good living in the town thanks to unfinished bags of chips". I suppose you could compare them to the domestic cat in that regard? And I think of the rise in Bee populations where urban gardens provide a variety of flowers at different times of the year - pat on the head time I hope, but it's a small hope.
The awful thing is that there is always a new threat looming on the horizon. We have a terribly cosseted and relatively trivial culture here, in other places people's priorities are the eradication of drought, storms, floods and major epidemics. Someone was asking me recently what measures were in place to stop rabies coming through the Channel Tunnel carried by rats. I have no idea. I just hope and hope like everyone else that it won't happen, because I am not in a position to stop it. Sometimes I even fall into thinking "at least it won't happen to us" same as the droughts, storms and flooding. It's still hard to keep a clear head to focus upon these things, we are still learning, but it doesn’t hurt to be truthful about your feelings now and then. So thanks for the chance to do so folks.