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A report released last week week (reported in the Guardian and on BBC News) puts these questions into sharp focus. The moncler online store Economic Cost of Invasive Non native Species to the British Economy, commissioned by Defra, the Scottish government and the Welsh Assembly, says that non native species cost the British economy 1.7bn a year. The worst culprit is, it states, the rabbit with an annual cost of 263m.

That’s a lot of cash. Cue various moncler outlet sale ministers getting vocal about acting soon to save money cheap moncler coats mens in the long run and moncler uk outlet protecting native species.

‘Invasive?’ tweeted the Mammal Society on the subject of the rabbits. ‘We brought them here and they’re more or less native, moncler womens jackets or ‘naturalised’. They benefit land management as grazers moncler outlet online too.’

A point backed up by Tashysmum: ‘What about all the good rabbits do as moncler sale online grazers keeping habitat just right, as for stone curlews?’

It seems there’s more to the story that meets the eye. Indeed some conservationists are unequivocal in their belief that rabbits are not pests. ‘Rabbits are a crucial partner in our conservation work and we love ’em,’ said Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Darrell Stevens. ‘They keep the grass short enough to encourage back our beloved stone curlews.’

It’s not just curlews who benefit from the grazing. Other rare species like the silver moncler sale outlet spotted skipper and large blue butterflies also depend on the habitat rabbits help to create. And there’s the moncler usa native predators too like buzzards, foxes, polecats and stoats who like nothing better than a bunny for dinner.

The other side of this coin is that they’re also predated by the dreaded uk moncler outlet American mink, a more recent invasive species. So unwittingly and unwillingly they’re helping to support this species. Add to that the fact that rabbits do an estimated 115m damage to agriculture each year and it’s obvious that, as ever with these matters, the truth is far more complicated than the headlines suggest.

What about the question of whether they’re ‘non native’? They’ve been in the country since Norman times, the best part of a millennium. How long do they have to be here before we consider them native?

A recent report on cheap moncler jackets invasive species by The People’s Trust uk moncler sale For Endangered Species says this: ‘Inconsistency and prejudice are rife cheap moncler jackets mens in media coverage of non native species.’ And then: ‘There comes a point where a non native has been exerting its influence on native biodiversity for so best moncler jackets long that a new community has emerged.’ I’d urge anyone with an interest in conservation to read this report [PDF].

I’m slightly nervous about mentioning this on a blog about British wildlife but what about rabbits as food for us humans? As alexei1954 tweeted: ‘Why are we not using rabbits as a food source which was why they were brought to this country in the first place?’ It was served up regularly when I was a child in the 1970s. A straw poll in the office backs this up. But now, rabbit seems to be the preserve of the foodies and some country folk.

If there’s too many of them and they’re cheap surely they should be a staple rather than a delicacy. Too simplistic maybe.

Rabbits weren’t the only part of the report that had people questioning its findings. paulos82 took issue with the argument that the Varroa mite ‘only’ costs 27m a year. ‘What about bees’ role as pollinators and therefore financial impact on agriculture?’

In the Guardian piece’s comments section one person argues that the potato cyst nematode shouldn’t even be on the list in the first place: ‘The potato isn’t actually a native moncler outlet species.’ Technically, of course, absolutely correct.

I’ll finish on a lighter note with this from EnglishFolkfan: ‘Many parents paying for the upkeep of family pet bunnies may agree with the costly price tag too.’ As one of them, I know exactly what she means.

The Curious Owl, a sideways look at British nature.

Comment number 1. At 15:50 21st Dec 2010, rimo wrote: There is of course a major difference between ‘invasive’ and ‘non native’ invasive just means that the species is cheap moncler sale spreading out, so natives are entirely capable of being invasive look at bracken and birch on heathland, for example. Most non natives are a long way from ‘invasive’ very few non native species become established, and very few of those go on to become invasive, moncler outlet store especially in the wider countryside just think how many alien plant species cheap moncler jackets womens are in gardens, and how few go feral. The rabbit has pretty much stopped its expansion and so should no longer be considered invasive. The botanists have a system where if a species has been present since c.1500 it’s an archaophyte and is accorded semi native status.

Personally, I used to work on the Adonis and Chalkhill Blues neither species would survive without rabbits, and both were almost made extinct by the Myxomatosis outbreaks in the 1960s,

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Comment number 2. I’ve had some interesting comments too on Twitter which I’ll post cheap moncler jackets here very soon. Maybe the cost that rabbits cause should be balanced against the benefits they bring. That might give us a figure closer to the truth.

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Comment number 3. At 12:50 22nd Dec 2010, Child of Herne wrote: Not only do few people eat Rabbit now but many of those sold in the shops are actually imported from China!! This is a ridiculous waste of food miles and they taste like cotton wool, nothing like as good as a wild Rabbit or Grey Squirrel. I will try almost anything and regularly am given Rabbits by friends who shoot and sometimes have Hare or Muntjac that have been killed on the road, although would never wish to harm a live Hare. Many years ago when working at a Bird Observatory even tried Mute Swan as discount moncler jackets a result of a ringed bird hitting a cable and being brought dead to the Obs.

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Comment number 4. At 10:05 24th Dec 2010, Fishandsnap wrote: Certainly in terms of fish the introduction of Pike into the Scottish Highlands has had an impact in what are already low biomass environments, and certainly impacts the traditional role of the ferox trout. But we have Zander and Danube Catfish spreading through the Engish systems.

One of the most dramatic examples I have observed personnally is impact of Rhododendron, I believe it still has no natural predation in the UK and displaces other plants that would moncler outlet woodbury have supported insect life. A river I have visited in the highlands for many years was choked along its banks back in the early 90s and the trout population was very sparse and very small in size. In the second half of the 90s the Rhododendron was cleared, this resulted in the following:

A moncler sale really quite dramatic increase in the brown trout population, and their size increase was even more dramatic, watching a significant hatch of insects, never seen before, is really quite delightful, and the activity from the trout in response also good to watch.

The now opened up banks also supports very pleasant walks for the public where they can see dippers, the odd salmon jump in addition to traditional bird life and the rising trout.

Access is now possible for canoeists and rafters bringing yet moncler outlet prices more income to the local area.

However when I was breeding Indian Moonmoths back in the 70s, living in Cornwall at the time, ready supplies of the food plant was a plus rather than having to make expensive purchases from suppliers, especially when you are on a pocket money budget.