Egyptian Geese, lupines and xenophobia

To: 'Willem Jan Marinus Vader' <>, Birding-Aus <>, sabirdnet <>, Birdchat <>
Subject: Egyptian Geese, lupines and xenophobia
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2016 04:26:57 +0000
If we thought and behaved completely logically, we would never hate invasive 
species, but would ignore them or attempt to control them depending entirely on 
whether they're harmful or likely to increase and become harmful. Some people 
do seem to do that (or just hide their feelings well), but others develop this 
hatred you describe. I guess it helps people to work towards controlling a 
species if they hate it. I do think that people's feelings about immigrants 
work the same way.

Are you suggesting we should question whether we're controlling invasive 
species for irrational reasons, or just question whether our feelings about 
them are irrational? I do think that we should continue to control them, no 
matter what our feelings for them are.

I subscribe to the aliens-L mailing list, which deals with invasive species. 
Published papers are regularly discussed where the authors have suggested 
acceptance of certain or any invasive species as native, and the motives or 
these authors are often questioned. Are they attention seeking? Funded by some 
company that could either profit or save money by not having to control an 
invasive species? Misguided animal lovers? But it seems generally accepted that 
these authors are misguided.

Peter Shute

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf
> Of Willem Jan Marinus Vader
> Sent: Sunday, 4 September 2016 1:31 AM
> To: Birding-Aus <>; sabirdnet
> <>; Birdchat <>
> Cc: Iman Keuchenius <>
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Egyptian Geese, lupines and xenophobia
> Egyptian Geese, starlings. lupines and xenophoba
> Today was a sunny day in Tromsø, N. Norway, a respite between rain
> yesterday and rain tomorrow (Not terribly hot, though, +5*C this morning
> when I went out at 10 am). It is clearly autumn here now,  the birches are
> yellowing, mushrooms everywhere. the swallows and terns are gone, and
> the thrushes are raiding the berries in the gardens. Few flowers left along
> the roads, mostly diehards like Yarrow and Hawksweed, but at Tisnes the
> Felwort still is in full flower. And there are still a few flowers in the 
> large
> patches of lupines that from year to year become more prevalent in the
> area, but which of course do not belong here; these are American plants. I
> remember how elated I was the year I lived in Bodega Bay in California, now
> almost 40 years ago and found several species of wild lupines on Bodega
> Head; but here in Tromsø I don't like them at all, beautiful though the 
> flowers
> may be.
> There is a similar case in Holland with the Egyptian Geese that in the course
> of a few decades have become almost ubiquitous in that country. Rare is the
> day trip where this species is not on the list nowadays. And I loathe them,
> even to the ridiculous point that I don't even fully appreciate them anymore
> in Africa, where they of course are fully at home.
> Several small flocks of Starlings were around and reminded me that every
> time I write something about this most interesting bird, I get a number of
> irate reactions from the USA and Australia, telling me how awful these birds
> are.
> In all these cases we have arguments that sound somewhat rational: The
> lupines take over the road verges from the local flowers; the Egyptian Geese
> have the nasty  habit of killing off other young and smaller birds in their
> territories, and the Starlngs are simply too many and occupy nest holes that
> 'better' birds need for their nests. But recently I have started wondering if
> there maybe is something amiss with these feelings nevertheless. In these
> later years we have here in Europe a serious problem with large numbers of
> human refugees, largely from areas where there is war, famine, and/or
> repressive dictatorships, and also in Australia and now in the USA 'illegal
> immigrants' are much in the news. And the arguments used to keep out
> these people as much as possible are exactly the same as in the case of the
> other exotic animals and plant: they do not belong here, they take up room
> and jobs from the 'better people', and they have undesirable behavour.  It
> has made me think: maybe my strong reluctance to accept these foreign
> plants and animals in our nature here North is in fact just a kind of
> xenophobia, in the same way as I feel much of the fear for immigrants is too.
> A further argument for this view is that the 'fear and loathing' only kick in
> when the exotics arrive in numbers. All birders love to see the lone vagrant ,
> and I have no problems at all with another American immigrant on our island,
> the Monkey flower Mimulus guttatus, that has only a precarious toehold
> here, and every year is found at only 1 or 2 spots. Nor do I grudge the 2-3
> pairs of Collared Doves that have held out in Tromsø since their arrival in
> 1969, no doubt the northernmost in the world. But in the areas in the USA
> they have recently overrun I suppose feelings are maybe quite different
> towards also this species.
> Have you ever had any thoughts along these lines? Or am I completely at sea
> with my ideas?
> Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway
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