Elephants and other pests

David Victor davidxvictor@btinternet.com
Sun, 25 Dec 2005 10:46:13 PST

John Lonsdale mentioned:

>Conversation turned to the damage done by
>muntjac deer (a dog-sized beast now thoroughly naturalised southern England,
>causing a lot of damage to woodland and gardens). Several people were
>bemoaning their presence and activities

Whilst I can't complain of ever having an elephant in my garden, muntjac 
are a pain!  I live in Bedfordshire in England and my garden is next door 
to the Duke of Bedford's Woburn Estate.  One of his predecessors was the 
person who introduced this particular pest as he wanted large herds of deer 
to roam his estate which runs to several thousand acres.  Whilst many of 
them have spread the length and breadth of England, rather too many stayed 
close by and are a constant menace.  What's more, they have no fixed 
breeding season.  Females can conceive again days after foaling and seven 
months later along comes another one or two!

To top it all, the Duke also introduced Chinese Water Deer to the UK and 
they have also escaped and spread from here through to Eastern 
England.  Again, a fair number stayed put in and around us.

Both of these species are small and, frankly, not very attractive.  One of 
their less attractive features are a pair of tusk like teeth that project 
forwards:  A brick layer who worked for me when we first came here tried to 
help one escape from a wire fence in which it was entangled and got a 
rather bad gore in his inner thigh for his troubles.

So, I have a great deal of sympathy for John's situation:

>Here, also surrounded by woodland and fields, we are bothered by just about
>every species of wildlife in the book, but there is little we can
>realistically do about it, beyond protective cages for newly planted trees

I've been out putting cages around some newly planted shrubs this afternoon 
(Christmas day).

>  We do poison
>squirrels in spring,

I don't poison.  I do have an air rifle with telescopic sights which allows 
me to pick them off when they get onto the bird feeders!  Squirrels did 
more damage last year than the deer.  The deer "prune" many of my trees and 
shrubs, but the squirrels destroyed three or four complete trees last year 
by stripping bark.

Having said all of that, I must add that living deep in the country with 
all its animals is just about heaven to me.  One of my most memorable 
moments was having a pair of chasing hare run twice around my wife and I as 
we strolled through the garden on day.  Sheer magic!

Best regards,
David Victor 

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