When does an invasive species cease to be an invasive species and becomes part of the ecological furniture of a country? We all know the grey squirrel is a foreigner, but let's face it, apart from the odd cull, this species is now the squirrel of these isles – like it or not. So what about Canada geese? Thousands of our lakes and parks, particularly in city and town centres, play host to these amiable and beautiful birds. And while they undoubtedly can make a mess, you'd be hard pushed to find that many people keen to get rid of them. In the part of the world where I live the Regent's Canal in Central London is most definitely enlivened and enhanced by their presence. Their compatibility with urban water and urban ways allows a touch of aviculture to flourish in even the most unpromising places.
But what are we to make of the furore going on at Lake Windermere in the Lake District where local groups are calling for a cull of 200 Canada geese, while the RSPCA is threatening prosecution if anyone does? Firstly, Lake Windermere is not the Regent's Canal. It's one of this country's landmark and iconic beauty spots. We have a duty to preserve it, which is not exactly what the Canada geese are doing. They're pooping on it, and in great numbers. So while I welcome the geese in urban London, I can empathise totally with Lake Windermere residents who wish to preserve the ecology of the lake. But equally, if we don't have to kill birds, then we shouldn't. The RSPCA have offered to help move the birds on, without shooting birds on the nest. It seems the sensible move. Let's hope common sense can prevail.
Moving from common sense to what might legitimately be called evil, the story we covered this week about the huge conglomerate Scott's Miracle-Gro knowingly selling poisonous wild bird seed, quite honestly beggars belief. More than 70 million packets of seed covered in an insecticide that preserved the seed, but killed the birds is a story that takes your breath away. It's one thing for corporations to be greedy and conniving, it's quite another to be peddling a product that you know is killing animals. Even though the company is now offering to pay a huge fine, the people responsible should be prosecuted in a court of law. It is, yet again, an illustration that corporate responsibility is a contradiction in terms, and that people running these corporations, who seem to believe they can do exactly what they like, should be made to pay for such heinous, selfish and greedy acts. It's the sort of story that if you made it up, no one would believe you.
Hasta la vista, amigos…