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urban wildlife as part of sustainable living

 
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Hi Toby and welcome back to Permies!

I'm going to ask about a *really* controversial subject here, but I'm feeling strong today so hopefully people will see this as the really perceptive problem that it is - the permaculture approach to urban wildlife.

How can we help people see urban wildlife as a resource that, under certain circumstances, could be harvested responsibly and sustainably?

Example 1- For those who aren't familiar with the Pacific Wet Coast, the University of Victoria along with a variety of charitable organizations spent a huge amount of money relocating an oversupply of European rabbits to various sanctuaries. At the peak of the problem, UVic's rabbit population was estimated at about 1,400 to 1,600 (summer 2010)and the density was damaging the ecosystem. Victoria has a large homeless population as well as "starving students", yet no one was willing to have even a nominal number of these rapidly reproducing animals butchered for food. We are about to have a repeat of this situation to remove a colony that's reproducing in the greenspace of a highway interchange.

Example 2 - At one point, Canada geese were near extinction, so protective measures were put in place. One of these measures was to re-introduce the birds just north of Victoria. However, the people responsible failed to realize that the birds they introduced were too young to figure out how to migrate and the climate is such that they can survive here year round. This has created serious problems for a group of area farmers. Instead of the rules being intelligently interpreted, government agencies were involved and a cull took place that cost ~$725 per bird to cull 43 of the 250 targeted birds . Again, these birds are living in a relatively unpolluted environment, yet there was never *any* suggestion that these should be harvested responsibly as a food source.

I love living in an area where people and wildlife co-exist. However, there will be times when humans need to intervene to limit populations directly, if there is no acceptable wild predator to help (owls keep the wild rabbits in check on our farm, for example, however, deer are a local problem and every time a cougar shows up to help, it is "relocated" - frequently to the landfill - why can't we harvest the deer if we let our animal control officers kill the cougars???) Do people have ideas for re-framing this "problem" as an "opportunity", a part of the circle of life. Personally, I'd prefer to eat an animal that's lived, as Joel Salatin says, "a really good life with one bad day", than feed-lot beef. Why can't we allow animals to "free range" in our urban areas, but monitor the population and put a cost-effect system in place that allows us to harvest them the same way we harvest local fruit trees? Can anyone picture what that might look like?

Ideas are welcome, thanks!

 
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