Sunday 15 September 2019

Pestival 2019

I had to tell him Well done! but my heart wasn't in it: the cuteness factor is too high, despite what I know are the grim facts. Rabbits, in just the short time I've been living full-time on Waiheke, have become noticeably high-profile even in just our little valley. On my morning walk I normally see at least four or five - the record so far is eight - pretty evenly divided between standard grey, like this poor dead baby; and pure black, and white with spots and even one with a black stripe down his back: presumably escaped/released pets, or their descendants, tch.* 
I've seen them browsing in our garden (fortunately still not much of an actual garden), eating fallen seed I put out for the birds and even sitting on our concrete drive. Though it's possible, the odds are not good that it's the same rabbit.
We don't do land mammals in New Zealand. Well, not indigenously, apart from two species of bat - all the others have been introduced. That includes ourselves, of course, and the dogs, cats, sheep, cows, horses, pigs and so on that are necessary to our lifestyle; plus the rats and mice that hitchhiked in; and the possums and wallabies introduced from Australia for the fur trade; and deer and goats for hunting; and rabbits for early-settler food; and then the ferrets, stoats and weasels brought in to control them which, understandably, found the native ground-nesting and flightless birds far more to their taste... It's a story you will find, with variants, all around the world - there can hardly be a single country that's not regretting the introduction of multiple species of animal, bird or plant that some bright spark once thought was a great idea, but which has since turned out to be an environmental disaster. 
So yesterday I went to Pestival, where I briefly sat next to Auckland's eager-to-be-re-elected mayor (the last mayor I shook hands with was *cough* Rahm Emanuel in Chicago), chatted with a TV/radio/print personality about his badly broken fingers (unfortunate collision of cycling with recycling [bin]), took advantage of generous quantities of free food and listened to a succession of earnest people fully focused on environmental purity.
Most of the stalls were weaponised: proudly showing off their specific poisons and ingenious traps, and they were getting a lot of interest. The anti-1080 lady had perhaps misjudged her market, not gathering much of a crowd; and she got shut down pretty fast when she argued with one of the experts in the Q&A session. "We've dealt with this issue previously. Next question...?" said Jesse firmly. It is an issue, but most people agree it's our best weapon, currently. Against this furry, fully-teethed monstrosity:
And these:
Nasssty mustelids. They make that poor little rabbit baby look even more pathetically innocent, despite its destructive diet...
*UPDATE: And here, indeed, is one of those descendants. Yes, even cuter. Sigh.


the queen said...

Biodegradable poison sounds like just the ticket. But ... how is it that you have a cat? I thought cats were the enemy too.

TravelSkite said...

I've always had cats, but I regret the latest. I worry about what else he gets up to, besides catching rabbits. He wears a belled collar, and is kept inside at night, but still... I wish I'd adopted a retired greyhound instead.

TravelSkite said...

And yes, feral cats are certainly the enemy and I think the do-gooder groups who catch them, sterilise them, and then LET THEM GO AGAIN are woefully misguided.


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