First the Brits were shooting badgers. Then they were vaccinating badgers. Now they're chasing parakeets. As royal wedding fever reaches its apex this week, it's a good time to ask: are our former colonial masters doing anything on that island of theirs apart from tchotchke-hawking and animal maintenance?
The first round of invasive animal news came April 13. Apparently Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party supports a badger cull to keep the little furries from spreading bovine tuberculosis. The news that Brits would be turning out to pop off overgrown weasels made for good headlines on its own. But then the BBC reported April 19 that the National Trust had come up with a better idea: mass badger vaccination.
While the National Trust worked on testing its new, more Wind-in-the-Willows-friendly solution--to the tune of a mere £80,000 a year--the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was clearly cooking up a scheme of its own. The target this time? Parakeets. Yesterday, the BBC announced that the department had deemed the bird an invasive species:
Although the species had not yet caused any damage, Defra said they had the potential to threaten "national infrastructure".
It said extensive damage to crops had been reported in both North and South America, and the birds could cause power cuts when their nests were built on electricity pylons, particularly when they become wet from rain.
Luckily for impressionable British children, though the department may have to shoot the parakeets it will try to "rehouse" them first.
What's behind this spate of wacky news from across the water? It's possible BBC editors just want some animal stories to fill up the page. Remember, though: we in the U.S. can't even band together to get rid of a bunch of mussels, which don't even move. And yet while Britain undergoes its most severe spending cuts since World War II, the nation has found time to generate three animal control headlines in as many weeks--and the latest presumably involves catching parakeets in nets.