The news is reducing me to such a state of near radio defenestration at the moment that I'm grateful to the Daily Mail for serving up a great piece of anger therapy today, which resulted in my lying down in a dark room for half an hour. More accurately, it's the Daily Mail readership wot done it. The Mail ran an almost sensible piece this morning highlighting the plight of the adder (not a "poisonous" snake but a "venomous" snake), which is rapidly sliding towards extinction here due to habitat loss.
I thought the comments on the article were illuminating - or perhaps I just don't get out enough: I say catch (them) and stick them in a zoo. Good. I for one would like to see them become extinct. Normally I manage to kill about 3 each year* but would be quite happy to try & catch them so long as I could relocate them into the conservationists (sic) garden. There is a definite INCREASE in Northumberland, so who in the hell claims they are declining lives in cloud cuckoo land. Are these people mad? Why exactly do we need vemonous (sic) snakes in large quantity or any quantity for that matter in an over populated island? More work for the NHS perhaps? This story is all BS I can take you to to adder sites all round my house; there is a 4 foot long one living on a railway bank, and a bit of woodland nearby that is full of them if you know where to look. Yet more doom - preaching 'conservationists' sniffing out 'funding' for some useless 'study'. There are oodles of adders about, especially here in the New Forest... People don't like reptiles and amphibia, which sad fact I've blogged about before. At one end of the spectrum they're laughable and at the other end they're sinister; newts are funny and adders are dangerous. Comments like these also highlight one of my favourite themes; the need to get conservation into the mainstream. Let's indulge in some more bullet points, however.
- Because I feel passionately about conservation doesn't necessarily mean I am an apologist for New Labour/political correctness/multi-culturalism/dumbing down/The European Court of Human Rights/etc.
- Never under-estimate the ignorance and uninterest of the general public. Guess what % of "adders" are slow worms or grass snakes? Something over 99%?
- People don't trust scientists and conservationists and they don't like "doom-mongering" (i.e. most conservation stories). They trust urban myths, their own experience (often mistakenly, and in any case so what?) and soothing documentary voice-overs. Dr. Chris Gleed-Owen they don't.
- That Gussy Fink-Nottle has a lot to answer for.