Raptor brutal

4 thoughts on “Raptor brutal”

  1. Most predators kill other predators. The seminal studies of wolf on Isle Royale recorded wolves abandoning pursuit of moose calves in favour of killing coyote, which were not eaten. Tigers kill diminutive wild cats. Lions kill cheetah and leopard. The list goes on closer to home and in my own experience: ravens take buzzard and red kite nestlings, tawny owls eat kestrel chicks (caught on nest cam), golden eagles kill peregrines (read the papers on peregrine reintroduction in the US Rockies) and I have seen a male sparrow hawk kill and eat another male sparrow hawk.

    It’s what predators do. It would be one of the effects of predator reintroduction. So lynx in the Highlands would kill some sheep (bad thing), but they would also kill foxes (good thing) and roe deer (good thing). If I were a grouse keeper, I would want lynx on the moor.

    This is not a new idea, we’ve seen this operate well on inland waters. We used to have mink everywhere. We now have very few mink and many more otters. Otters drive mink away and are a limiting factor in their population dynamics (lots of Russian papers on this subject). I’ve seen interactions between otter and mink and there’s no contest! So now we have lots of otters and lots of water voles and water rails which were decimated by mink. And we can still go fishing, lying around in boats while trout plop gently beside us …

  2. Thanks for in-depth thoughts Dave. I have no problems with ‘red in tooth and claw’ (I celebrate it above) but we should be open about what possible outcomes there are at local scales, trade-offs involved and who makes that call. Last red squirrel in Wales knocked off by reintroduced goshawk, English pine martens eat invasive grey squirrels but finish off last few lapwings, a lynx comes across a wildcat (‘diminutive’ in its eyes….)
    Nature unfettered. Love it. But let’s be more explicit about what’s on the table and collaborate more on making those calls without fearing judgement.

  3. It set me thinking that it is probably only in the last 50 – 100 years that we have effectively eradicated all our enemies so no animal is capable of preying on us.
    You have to walk out alone on the African Savannah or some other wilderness to put yourself in any danger of being hunted. Even then, a powerful rifle will see you safe. If a shark attacks one human, or a lion mauls a car passenger, the news reverberates around the world.

    We seem to see ourselves as outsiders looking in at “nature”. Perhaps that’s why we can’t really make up our minds what the natural order is and how much to interfere..

  4. The argument is wider. Biological agents do not stay put and once the genie is out of the bag the collateral damage is often bigger than the alternative method of control (think Cane Toad to control a sugar cane pest in Queensland (last see killing off wildlife in the Kakadu). Pesticides are broken down quickly within a year in general, even radioactive waste has a finite life but biological agents go on for ever.

    For those who have walked in High Wycombe the Red Kites are truly stupendous and it is easy to see half a dozen in the air at one time (in that area the wealthy locals feed them on prime steak on their bird tables so they should thrive) but in my limited experience there is a surprising dearth of smaller field birds -not necessarily eaten (Red Kites mainly eat carrion) but hidden and no doubt stressed – is their decline hastened?

    Incidentally read H is for Hawk – the writing is superb.

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