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Black Rats to be eliminated on the Shiants (1 Viewer)

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Goodbye to the last colony of Black Rats in the UK based on zero evidence. Shameful waste of money.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/...ject-aiming-to-clear-islands-of-rats.24428932

Never mind waste of money its a national disgrace. These animals have self-introduced and been resident for over a thousand years. They are implicated, rightly or wrongly, in significant parts of British history.

Additionally, if the nutters are going to go after animals resident here for that long, whither Rabbit? Brown Hare? Fallow Deer? Even Nathusius's Pipistrelle - that's a self-introducer!

Just because rats get bad press from the ignorant. A cull of humans, that's what we need. You can take tolerance too far.

John
 

Mike Richardson

Formerly known as Skink1978
The exact impact of the non-native rodents on the Shiant islands in the Minch, Outer Hebrides - home to more than 150,000 seabirds that breed there each year - is unclear.

Surely it would be a good idea to answer the above question first before flushing £900,000 down the pan. I would like to know by what percentage the project expects the Puffin (and other bird species) population to increase by once the rats have been eradicated.

While Black Rats obviously feed on birds and eggs during the summer, the island rat population is limited by long winters when food is extremely scarce. The rats are never going to become abundant and cause significant predation to the seabird colonies. I would expect lack of suitable nesting space, prey density and skua predation to have a much bigger impact on Shiant seabird populations.
 
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prhodes

Well-known member
Anyone aware of a way of protesting against this?

Like many I was fascinated and really enjoyed reading reports from the intrepid Black Rat field trip last year. It must have been just as rewarding as any trip to see 'cute' animals like Puffins, perhaps more so as they are much maligned. I think I remember the box of Snickers got left in the boot of the car, so you had to have a 'whip round' for replacement bait! Very funny. (Hope I've remembered this accurately).

Sorry about this news. Phil
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
The exact impact of the non-native rodents on the Shiant islands in the Minch, Outer Hebrides - home to more than 150,000 seabirds that breed there each year - is unclear.

I would expect lack of suitable nesting space, prey density and skua predation to have a much bigger impact on Shaint seabird populations.

So would I, but one thing at a time, once its clear removing the rats hasn't saved the poor Puffins, the eagles will be next and the Bonxies shortly after.

John
 

MarkHows

Mostly Mammals
As Mike has said they have lived in balance with the seabirds here for a long time.
There is no need for this total waste of money it should be spent on a real conservation project such as reducing overfishing etc. the real cause of seabird decline.

Mark
 

Jhanlon

Well-known member
Can only echo your sentiments. The rat population is very small and doesn't appear to have much of an impact on the seabird colonies. As Mike has said it is limited by the seasonality of its diet. Seabirds are extremely successful here, so why drive out the rats? That money would be far better going on more research into what might help our seabird populations recover, and investigation into better sustainibility of fish stocks. Incredible they're going ahead with a cull without knowing what impact (if any) the rats are having. The word 'scapegoat' comes to mind.

Having said that it's not entirely unexpected. Part of the reason for us going last year was the rumour this action was in the pipeline following the interest being shown in the rats by those studying the seabird populations. But if they were conducting research, why is the impact still unclear?
 

ral2

Member
As an environmental historian I see animals as not just biological entities, but also rich socio-cultural historical documents. Granted my UGs sometimes struggle to see a rabbit or a tiger as an historical document, but at the heart of my fledgling discipline is this investigation of the complex, changing and two-way relatonships between nature and people.

Scientists are sometimes deeply arrogant in the assumption that only they can write about or speak about nature with any authority. They have a tendency to sink into species racism when it comes to the alien/invasive species debate. They totally miss the fact that in modern Britain this debate is as much an historical, socio-cultural and political one, as it is biological. The black rats on the Shiants have a value. They are also a deeply embedded part of our historical story on these islands in all its diversity and complexity, warts and all. They have shaped us, as we have shaped them. Our eNGOs do need to wake up to the fact that nature is a cultural force, and that the majority of Brits interact with it in a non-scientific way.

The black rats are now far rarer than many of the seabirds on a national scale. Surely we can spare one small island as a living archive to this rodent part of our national environmental story.
 

Dave Pullan

Active member
As an environmental historian I see animals as not just biological entities, but also rich socio-cultural historical documents. Granted my UGs sometimes struggle to see a rabbit or a tiger as an historical document, but at the heart of my fledgling discipline is this investigation of the complex, changing and two-way relatonships between nature and people.

Scientists are sometimes deeply arrogant in the assumption that only they can write about or speak about nature with any authority. They have a tendency to sink into species racism when it comes to the alien/invasive species debate. They totally miss the fact that in modern Britain this debate is as much an historical, socio-cultural and political one, as it is biological. The black rats on the Shiants have a value. They are also a deeply embedded part of our historical story on these islands in all its diversity and complexity, warts and all. They have shaped us, as we have shaped them. Our eNGOs do need to wake up to the fact that nature is a cultural force, and that the majority of Brits interact with it in a non-scientific way.

The black rats are now far rarer than many of the seabirds on a national scale. Surely we can spare one small island as a living archive to this rodent part of our national environmental story.

Hi, can you let me have some contact details. I'd like to use some of your comments in an attempt to take this further. Thanks.
 

lewis20126

Well-known member
The black rats are now far rarer than many of the seabirds on a national scale. Surely we can spare one small island as a living archive to this rodent part of our national environmental story.

I agree entirely with your comments and your conclusions.

Far better, in this case, to focus on making a difference at other colonies and on the maco-environmental problems, such as over-fishing which limit seabird populations.

cheers, alan
 

fugl

Well-known member
Surely we can spare one small island as a living archive to this rodent part of our national environmental story.

A living monument to the Black Death? No real harm, I suppose. ;)
 
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randombutton

New member
A re-run of the same decision that was made re Lundy Island a few years back. No black rats there now :C
At the time there was huge opposition , petitions and so forth, which made not an iota of difference.
 

CornishExile

rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn!
I agree entirely with your comments and your conclusions.

Far better, in this case, to focus on making a difference at other colonies and on the maco-environmental problems, such as over-fishing which limit seabird populations.

cheers, alan

As ever these days, there seems to be preference shown for the aw-factor wildlife at the expense of the less glamorous or outwardly appealing. A recent case in point was the removal of the Keen of Hamar on Unst, Shetland, from the list of designated NNRs - but the retention of Hermaness on the same island.

Hermaness - home to some impressive, nay, nationally important seabird colonies. But nothing there that isn't found elsewhere in the UK, and much of it found on cliff-faces that NNR status isn't going to make a blind bit of difference in protecting.

Keen of Hamar - home to an impressive array of alpine flora, including the endemic, found nowhere else in the world Edmonston's Chickweed. A glance at the hill (one half outwardly barren but botanically rich; the other half bright green 'improved' grazing) shows how fragile and easily lost this habitat and its plants could be.

The big difference? The powers that be value seabirds over small, insignificant flowers. One has the aw-factor, the other doesn't.

We live in a culture that has re-branded Puffin fledglings as the vomit-inducing 'Pufflings', and Guillemot fledglings as the equally cringeworthy 'Jumplings'. It's all about getting people to empathise and connect with nature. Unglamorous stuff like rats or weeds doesn't capture the public vote. God help you if you're something really brown, unobtrusive, not cute, and outwardly dull like a Freshwater Mussel.

ce
 

lewis20126

Well-known member
Keen of Hamar - home to an impressive array of alpine flora, including the endemic, found nowhere else in the world Edmonston's Chickweed. A glance at the hill (one half outwardly barren but botanically rich; the other half bright green 'improved' grazing) shows how fragile and easily lost this habitat and its plants could be.

I didn't realise that had happened - any online jsutification from SNH/JNCC

cheers, alan
 

CornishExile

rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn!
I didn't realise that had happened - any online jsutification from SNH/JNCC

cheers, alan

There was at the time - entirely a budgetary decision, of course. It's still a SSSI and SAC - so has some degree of protection - but the principle sucks.

I'd have to do a little online sleuthery to find what was said at the time.

Edit - here we go, from SNH's own mouth: "Keen of Hamar is not considered to be suitable for large scale promotion and
does not require specialist management"

http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/B907229.pdf

ce
 
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CornishExile

rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn!
As a complete aside to the topic in hand. The earliest I can find puffling in print in refrence to young puffins is a monograph on the birds from 1953 http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...l=en&sa=X&ei=UnaZU4_LM8TkOvvrgIAP&redir_esc=y

So not that recent

Urgh! It still makes me shudder. But interesting to learn it was used 60 years ago.

Nevertheless, it still seems needlessly twee and sentimental, and surely is borne only from Puffins' inherent preceived cuteness. Hence the lack of "guillemotlings" or "razorlings" - I am guessing that the recent use of "jumpling" by, for example, the RSPB for fledgling Guillemots is only because they do something 'brave' and 'dramatic', and it helps to athropomorphise them in the public's eyes.

ce
 
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CornishExile

rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn!
Thanks; good to see NNRs are only of value if they are capable of revenue generation! :smoke:

cheers, alan

Yeah, it's a sign of the times.

Halo-effect wildlife good; niche, unloveable wildlife bad.

Large / colourful / charismatic birds good; small / dull / plain birds bad. Collective public outcry when Crane chicks from a reintroduction program get predated vs. massive public indifference when passerine species like Willow Tit vanish as breeding birds countrywide.

[Looks for emoticon with a gun held to head, and firing. Fails].

ce
 

Alain75

Well-known member
I agree entirely with your comments and your conclusions.

Far better, in this case, to focus on making a difference at other colonies and on the maco-environmental problems, such as over-fishing which limit seabird populations.

cheers, alan

The "problem" will most probably solve itself in a not too distant future now, the situation being for instance :

Exports_BP_2014_oil_bbl_MZM_NSE_MZM_NONE_auto_M.png


or :

jlliquidsworld.jpg
 
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