Eco campaigner George Monbiot has been howling in the Guardian about a wicked government conspiracy to prevent wolves (and other locally extinct wild animals) being reintroduced to mainland Britain.
He is incensed that the government is preparing to pass a bill in which any animal species that “is not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state” will be classified as non-native and subject to potential “eradication or control”.
Monbiot lists some of the former British natives that fit into this category. They include: the lynx; the wolf, the European beaver; the brown bear; the spotted hyena; the lion; the wolverine; and the blue stag beetle.
What maddens Monbiot is that by declaring all such species personae non gratae the government is trampling on his latest masterplan – explained in more detail in his latest book Feral – to repopulate Britain’s landscape with exotic beasties.
Apparently there is great public appetite for this. Or so he claims:
Some would be widely welcomed; others not at all, but it’s clear that a debate about which species we might bring back is one that many people in this country want to have, but that the government wants to terminate.
In your perfervid dreams, George. The only people who could possibly want any of these ravening creatures re-introduced to the British countryside – though we’ll let you have your blue stag beetle – are a) Guardian-readers or b) useful idiots so pitifully ill-informed, sentimental and incapable of rational thought that it has simply never once occurred to them what the consequences of this would be.
Let’s consider wolves, one of the main candidates for reintroduction. This scheme has the support of the John Muir Trust and also of Paul Lister, a furniture millionaire who owns 23,000 acres of Scotland.
Possibly so, but there are plenty of non-ecological reasons, as disastrous rewilding projects like the return of wolves to Yellowstone Park has demonstrated.
The thing about wolves, as cattle ranchers on the edge of Yellowstone Park have discovered to their cost, is that they don’t play by the rules. In the environmentalists’ imaginations, what wolves do on being reintroduced to the wild is recreate a lost world of Thoreau-esque innocence, living in perfect balance with nature, feeding only on game.
What wolves actually do, though – and have done in Yellowstone: see the documentary Crying Wolf – is pick the easiest target. Yes, they’ve trashed the local elk populations too, but their main prey has been cattle livestock, which they either kill or hamstring or render near worthless because of stress-induced weight-loss.
Of course, this human suffering and economic loss has proved of little interest to environmentalists like Monbiot because in their Weltanschauung, human beings are but one verminous species among many.