Beak, Tooth and Claw
Foxes, buzzards, crows, badgers, weasels, seals, kites – Britain and Ireland’s predators are impressive and diverse and they capture our collective imagination. But many consider them to our competition, even our enemies.
The problem is that predators eat what we farm or use for sport. From foxes and ravens attacking new-born lambs to weasels eating game-bird chicks, predators compete with us, putting them directly into the firing line. Farming, fishing, sport and leisure industries want to see numbers of predators reduced, and conservation organisations also worry that predators are threatening some endangered species. Other people, though, will go to great lengths to protect them from any harm. This clashing of worlds can be intense. So, what do we do? One of the greatest challenges facing conservation today is how, when and where to control predators. It is a highly charged debate.
Mary Colwell travels across the UK and Ireland to encounter the predators face to face. She watches their lives in the wild and discovers how they fit into the landscape. She talks to the scientists studying them and the wildlife lovers who want to protect them. She also meets the people who want to control them to protect their livelihoods or sporting interests.
In this even-handed exploration of the issues, Mary provides a thoughtful and reasoned analysis of the debates surrounding our bittersweet relationship with predators.
Praise for Curlew Moon 'Mary's walk is no small feat, and her account is beautifully written, soundly researched and inspiring in terms of what each of us can contribute to saving Curlews. There is gritty realism too. Mary does not shy away from controversy and engages so positively with the intractable issues in the English uplands, where Curlews could so easily be the casualty of grouse versus predators' BTO Book Review 'Colwell might be a woman with a mission but this is by no means just another ecological lament. She is neither self-indulgent nor despairing. The prose is brisk, the tone direct and the unadorned facts are delivered straight. She is particularly brave to confront the issue of predator control, particularly the need to cull foxes and crows, which are having a devastating effect on some populations. This might be a practical book, but Colwell has lovely poetic insights too' Spectator 'Whether or not you know what a curlew is, by the end of this well-crafted and thoughtful adventure you'll wonder quite how we have let this iconic bird slip through our fingers to near extinction' Country Life 'Colwell tackles her subject sensitively, with first-hand experience and fact-finding research. She is in the possession of a rare attribute in the world of nature conservation: an open mind' Elementum
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