Re: Ferrets

Subject: Re: Ferrets
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 09:42:06 +1100

1.  An effective biological method of controlling, or even eradicating, foxes is developed and implemented, thereby removing an ecological barrier to ferrets establishing viable wild populations?
2.  Ferret breeders smuggle in wild polecat stock (or sperm) from Europe to 'improve the breed', (especially if keeping and showing ferrets becomes more popular and prizes and prices go up)?

Hugh does add that these points are speculative.  However, is there any evidence that foxes are actually the reason ferrets haven't established in Australia?  On the second point, I really don't think this is even in the wildest dreams of the "ferret fancier".  For a start, introducing wild blood in any domesticated animal is a retrograde step.  Most, if not all, domesticated animals are now a long way removed from their wild ancestors.  Exhibition budgerigars, for example, are now twice the size of their wild ancestors.  No, I don't think introducing wild genes will ever happen.  On the subject of prizes and prices - well, what can I say.  The keeping and exhibition of "backyard" animals will always remain in the realm of the hobbyist.  As someone actively involved in the breeding and exhibition of poultry (an activity far more popular than the keeping of ferrets) I can assur! e you that you aren't in it for the prize money!  At the very top shows (the state Royal Shows and the National Show) there may be several hundred dollars prize money for the top four or so birds in show.  This in a field of several thousand birds.

 Keeping animals like sliders or ferrets is really a whim-  its not a
'need'.  Bringing in new animals like ferrets and sliders is a risky
experiment  underwritten by the taxpayer, because that is who will end
up paying to deal with any problems if they arise.

Keeping any domestic animal as a pet could be described as a "whim" yet companion animals are immensely popular.  We also need to be reminded that this is NOT an introduction of a new species.  It it were I would be the first to suggest that it shouldn't happen.

I guess I need to reiterate that I have no interest in ferrets (despite keeping them years ago) it's just that I still haven't heard any arguments that would convince me that ferrets have the potential to be a problem in Australia.  Comparing the case in New Zealand to that here is, as I see it, comparing apples and oranges.  

People seem to be very quick to jump on a bandwagon that doesn't directly impact on them - other people keep ferrets so it's their problem if we ban them!  Now let's try and ban Golden Retrievers!   Engaging the precautionary principle is all very well but I think we need to have a balanced view.  If there is no evidence of feral populations being established despite the species having the potential to do so for a very long time then why are they going to become established now.  This potential must actually be decreasing as it is almost certainly the case that fewer ferrets are used to flush rabbits from warrens nowadays, ferrets are becoming more a house-bound pet.


David Geering
Regent Honeyeater Recovery Coordinator
Department of Environment & Conservation
P.O. Box 2111
Dubbo  NSW  2830
Ph: 02 6883 5335 or Freecall 1800 621 056
Fax: 02 6884 9382

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