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Merits of reintroduction of locally extinct wildlife
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
Posts: 2447
Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:30 pm    Post subject: Merits of reintroduction of locally extinct wildlife Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
Well I had just been watching it. Plenty of wildlife in your neck of the woods?


Yes, and more to come if the National Park and Scottish Wildlife Trust get their way.

Our local Field Club hosted an interesting talk last week by Dr David Hetherington from the Cairngorms National Park Authority. He has been involved in a project looking at potential species restoration in the park. He chose a timescale of 10,000 years and attempted to get an idea of what has disappeared in that time, using a combination of bone records, analysis of Scots and Gaelic place names and folklore.

From his list a shortlist has been produced and an action plan tabled for discussion. Among the carnivore apex-predators are the brown bear, wolf and lynx. They have written off the idea of re-introducing wolf and bear due to the potential land-management issues, but lynx is vary much on their list. It provides very much the same ecological benefits as the other two but without many of the potential disadvantages. They are less dangerous to Man, being very shy and wary, and, being an ambush-predator, are less likely to take livestock.

There are also many examples from Europe of how the "Lynx Effect" has had a major impact on tourism following their restoration.

Edit by adam 2, this post and those following have been split from the unrelated thread about forecast severe weather in New York
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biffvernon



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice. I'd vote for the lynx. The beavers in Devon have won their reprieve today.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can we have a few lynx down here to knock off a few badgers, please?
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Catweazle



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's the benefit of reintroducing beavers ? Did someone miss them ?

Why do we need wolves and lynx ? Are my piglets getting out of control ? Do we have too many surviving lambs ?

Some people seem to regard the countryside as a theme park, for the amusement of day trippers, well I've got news for them, when lynx start stealing chickens and killing lambs they're going to get shot the same as the foxes.
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Catweazle wrote:
What's the benefit of reintroducing beavers ? Did someone miss them ?

Why do we need wolves and lynx ? Are my piglets getting out of control ? Do we have too many surviving lambs ?

Some people seem to regard the countryside as a theme park, for the amusement of day trippers, well I've got news for them, when lynx start stealing chickens and killing lambs they're going to get shot the same as the foxes.


From the Cairngorms National Park:

Quote:
The objectives of a re-introduction may include:
to enhance the long-term survival of a species;
to re-establish a keystone species (in the ecological or cultural sense) in an
ecosystem;
to maintain and/or restore natural biodiversity;
to provide long-term economic benefits to the local and/or national economy; to promote conservation awareness;
or a combination of these.


Specifically, as I understand it, Beavers can slow down the drainage of water-catchments, reducing flood risk downstream. Their demise is one component of many that have led to fast water run-off from catchments. Other components include; crop mono-cultures and use of heavy machinery which compacts the ground, deforestation and land drainage.

With regard to Lynx, the big issue here in Scotland is deer management. Although, to be fair, the big estates up here could probably manage their deer populations better if they were to focus on venison production rather than "sporting" income.

For an example of the top-down effect of large predator introduction, see here:

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/28/opinion/la-oe-0928-ward-wolves-20100928

Quote:
When we exterminated wolves from Yellowstone in the early 1900s, we de-watered the land. That's right; no wolves eventually meant fewer streams, creeks, marshes and springs across western landscapes like Yellowstone where wolves had once thrived.

The chain of effects went roughly like this: No wolves meant that many more elk crowded onto inviting river and stream banks. A growing population of fat elk, in no danger of being turned into prey, gnawed down willow and aspen seedlings before they could mature. As the willows declined, so did beavers, which used the trees for food and building material. When beavers build dams and make ponds, they create wetland habitats for countless bugs, amphibians, fish, birds and plants, as well as slowing the flow of water and distributing it over broad areas. The consequences of their decline rippled across the land.


Meanwhile, as the land dried up, Yellowstone's overgrazed riverbanks eroded. Spawning beds for fish silted over. Amphibians lost precious shade. Yellowstone's web of life was fraying.

The decision to put wolves back in Yellowstone was a bold experiment backed by the best conservation science available to restore a cherished American ecosystem that was coming apart at the seams.

The unexpected relationship between absent wolves and absent water is just one example of how large predators such as grizzlies, wolves and mountain lions regulate their ecosystems from the top down. The results are especially relevant in an era of historic droughts and global warming, both of which are stressing already arid Western lands.

At the time wolves were reintroduced, Yellowstone had just one beaver colony. Today, 12 colonies are busy storing water, evening out seasonal water flows, recharging springs and creating habitat. Willow stands are robust again, and the songbirds that nest in them are recovering. Ravens, eagles, wolverines and bears, which scavenge wolf kills for meat, have benefited. Wolves have pushed out the coyotes that feed on pronghorn antelope, so pronghorn numbers are also up. Riverbanks are lush and shady again. With less competition from elk for grass, the bison in the park are doing better too.

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Little John



Joined: 08 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That quote from Yellowstone just about sums it up. Thanks for that Tarrel.
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cairngorms do seem to take quite a mature and realistic approach to this issue. In coming up with their species restoration shortlist, they had a variety of factors that they tried to keep in balance; optimum effect on the overall eco-system, long term economic benefits to the area, negative impacts on land management, ease of restoration, etc. Their choice was based on a best-fit approach.

So, for example, Lynx are less detrimental to livestock populations than wolves, but almost as effective in eco-system impact. In fact, Lynx will ambush foxes passing through or living in their territory (they are woodland dwellers), removing the opportunity for said fox to raid a farmyard.

It's also interesting that they emphasise the term "restoration". This is an over-arching term which includes reintroduction (the iconic image of a wild animal being driven into a new habitat in the back of a pickup and "let free"), but also:
- Recolonisation (removing the factors that caused a species to disappear, or restoring its habitat, then sitting back and letting nature take its course)
- Reinforcement (assisting with breeding, active habitat management, etc, to improve the chances of an existing fragile population)

Listening to Dr Hetherinton's talk, I was surprised to note that the only species on the shortlist that is now actually extinct is the Aurock, a kind of predecessor to the domesticated cattle, the last of which died out in Poland some years ago. Encouraging I suppose.
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Snail



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw a family (i assume they were anyway) of pine martens this summer. What were those strange creatures? Had to look them up on the internet. Believe they were a restored species but could be wrong.

Hearing a pack of wolves howl in the wild would be pretty special.
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snail wrote:
I saw a family (i assume they were anyway) of pine martens this summer. What were those strange creatures? Had to look them up on the internet. Believe they were a restored species but could be wrong.

Hearing a pack of wolves howl in the wild would be pretty special.


My wife saw one walking towards her down the pavement while walking our dog past Keyline Builders Merchants! (A pine marten, not a wolf!)
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Catweazle



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting stuff Tarrel - amazing how lack of wolves affected water levels in Yellowstone. Thanks.

However, in the UK I would prefer to see land being given over to smallholders and low-impact housing than to beavers. I make no apologies for holding humans in higher regard than beavers.
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Catweazle



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snail wrote:
Hearing a pack of wolves howl in the wild would be pretty special.


"Special" is one word for it, probably not the word that would come to mind if you were walking home from the pub at 11.30pm Wink
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Snail



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

True Smile
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biffvernon



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Catweazle wrote:


However, in the UK I would prefer to see land being given over to smallholders and low-impact housing than to beavers. I make no apologies for holding humans in higher regard than beavers.


Smallholders and low-impact housing dwellers are quite compatible with beavers. They won't eat your chickens! They're wild in the Netherlands.
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fair comment about the smallholders, etc. But it's not really about the beavers. It's about the impact the beavers have on the wider eco-system.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As ever, we must face the bald fact that there are just too damned many humans for the conflicts of interests, as Catweazle rightly alludes to, between humans and other forms of life to ever be resolvable so long as the human population remains the size it is.

That's just the cold, hard truth of it. None of these issues would be issues if the human population was a tenth its its present size.
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