I have just done an interview, presumably my last for the RSPB, for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on monk parakeets (here is the link - it starts at about 48mins and 50 seconds).
Small numbers of this pretty parrot have become established in southern England and Defra are aiming to get rid of them as they fear they may cause damage to crops, gardens, 'infrastructure' and maybe wildlife.
Infrastructure needs a bit of explanation - will a few small parrots bring down the country? Probably not. But monk parakeets are unusual amongst parrots in building huge communal nests out of sticks - who knows what they get up to in these blocks of flats? And sometimes they build their nests on electricity lines causing power blackouts. But it's as an agricultural pest that they might (but might not - it's in the nature of these things that there is doubt) cause most problems.
Defra plan to catch up the relatively few monk parakeets who are out there now but will resort to lethal killing if non-lethal means don't work.
And very nice of the Today Programme to thank me for all the interviews I've done over the years for them - I lost count a long time ago but I'm guessing it's over 50.
And, Dear Reader, you can look forward to a veritable blogfest over the next few days as the Countdown continues. I will cover farming, raptor persecution, my successor, how to stay in contact with me, the book of the blog (please buy now!) and a host of other subjects.
Is there any reference data that details the specific damage that the Monk Parakeet is posing in Britain ? Science has lots of evidence of damage caused by other alien species that don't seem to attaract the same attention from DEFRA so is this latest action based on evidence or just theory ? As the Telegraph indicated over the weekend, Monk Parakeets are at home in a number of european and US locations but I'm not clear whether they pose the same threats globally ?
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