Friday, May 21, 2010

Ecology for Dummies, part 2.

So what to do with all these pesky rabbits?

Well, UVic is trapping and culling the rabbits that live near the stadium. Grounds personel say that the rabbit burrows are a threat to athletes, who train on the grounds and could break a leg if they stepped into/through a rabbit hole. They have trapped and killed over a hundred this month, but haven’t said how many more they plan to exterminate.

Here is the problem. Trapping and killing a few or even say half the population is useless. Rabbits are highly fecund animals and if a portion of the population is suddenly wiped out, more individuals from the remaining population will survive and inhabit the recently opened space. This is Ecology 101. So although they are culling some rabbits, the effect of removing those individuals from the population will last all of about two months, if that.

There are two solutions to UVic’s rabbit problem. 1) Cull every bunny on campus. 2) Capture, spay/neuter, and release as many as bunnies as possible (like a few hundred). By sterilizing and releasing the rabbits, rather than killing them, the bunnies will no longer reproduce but continue to occupy a niche in the environment. Culling every rabbit is probably rabbit is not very feasible, but a spay/neuter program could be a good compromise. UVic “tried” a spay/neuter program in February, with a whopping 40 animals. They weren’t wowed by the results and moved forward with the current cull.

This cull is cruel and unnecessary. Rabbits that have never been handled by humans would be highly stressed by the entire process. Trapping, transport, and eventual euthanasia is no fun for a semi-wild animal. Who knows how long they wait in traps, or wait to be taken to the Vet, or wait to be euthanized, all in terror. Plus, given that it is spring, many of these recently culled animals likely left behind dependant offspring, who would have subsequently died of dehydration. All for NO good reason, as another bun-bun is simply going to take their place.

Same on UVic for not thinking this one through.

On another note, I am about to dive into the above pictured chocolate cake. Drool. Thanks, Mom! I promise to be more cheerful tomorrow ;)

1 comment:

  1. I think that this is absolutely barbarism, in other words a typical human institutional response to anything slightly inconvenient to the general human populace.

    So a few atheletes may break legs. Oh well, at least they are not horses that get shot. Besides that, a good athlete pays attention to all aspects of environment while playing. Those that don't pay for it. In the end it will make for a better, more honed athlete.

    And what about the loss of enjoyment that so many people who view these animals get? If we look at this from a utilitarian stand point I would say that the loss of life, enjoyment and allowing the perpetuation of low "fitness" athletes (those that ignore their running surface) is a negative net happieness, thus we should seek an alternative route.

    It may seem radical and it could turn out very tragic for a select few of the old or infirm but I have always been an advocate of ecological health as a method of balancing poplulations. Hence I believe the correct route is to introduce keystone indigenous predators -cougars- to the local area. Yes, we may lose a few intellectuals but it will only be the slow ones. The athletes should be able to avoid the cougars or at least move fast enough that someone else, probably a bunny gets caught and for the vast surviving swarm of humanity they will actually get the opportunity to experience the reality of west-coast predator prey ecology. Seems like it would work for everyone!

    In short, I am highly against the process of exterminating non-human life for the convenience of humans. I think that we can flex a little, give a little, tolerate a little more then we do. When our mishapen constructs erradicate the ocean at a conservative 200,000 gallons of oil a day, I think that it is time to sit back and evaluate our value strucuture and realize that the value in preserving life, the buddhist experince of harmoniously respecting another life form, may be worth far more then all the gross institutional policy.

    AADK, 2010