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Plague of voles (used to be stupidity or what)

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Offline Dave

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« on: June 05, 2007, 19:16 PM »
Hi everybody
Just thought you might be interested in this rather sad, rather worrying story about stupidity.
My nephew Julio, is a veterinary pathologist, working in the University of Leon, researching nervous diseases in small ruminants (Sheep, Goats etc.). He goes to a job interview, with the Moredun Research institute near Edinburgh, next week, and he called on me to help him practice his English, in preparation. Today we had a very interesting conversation, about a problem and 'solution' which happened recently, in which he was involved.
This year has been a very mild year in Castilla and Leon, and so the common or garden field vole, has survived in large numbers, something that occurs fairly often, in a similar way to Lemmings. The area south of Leon is called the Tierras de Campo, and covers the provinces of Palencia, Leon Vallodolid and Zamora, and it is called the breadbasket of Spain for obvious reasons, for this is Cereal country. Voles like the young shoots of Cereal crops, and were posing a significant threat to this years crop, and the farmers were worried, and approached the Junta of Castilla and Leon for a solution to the problem, threatening street protest if no action was taken. Of course this is election year for the Junta, and worried about the rural vote they decided to take action, their solution, grain laced with an advanced version of Warfarin, or its equivalent. Fine they thought problem solved. For those of you that are not aware, Warfarin causes internal bleeding, which is why it is used, in small doses, for people with heart problems, or at the risk of blood clots.
A couple of weeks ago the Seprona division of the Guardia Civil, came to the University, with a number of dead Pigeons, on examination it was concluded their deaths were as a result of haemorrhaging, cause as it was revealed later by eating poisoned grain.
Now the story enters an interesting twist, the tourist department for Tierras de Campo, part of the Junta, has been pushing very hard to interest visitors to the fascinating landscape of the Tierras de Campo, and one of their main thrust has been the promotion of the regions typical cuisine, which includes front stage baby pigeon (Esp: pichones ). In One Palomar alone they found 130 dead pigeons, and so the Junta has put a ban on serving pigeon and pichones and so upset the tourist angle.
More worrying is how many other animals are affected
1)Directly by ingesting poisoned grain
2)By eating the dead bodies, of the voles killed by the poison
The Tierras dl Campo touch on the wild life reserve of Villafafila, and nobody is saying where they have spread poison, in the reserve are the Great and Little bustards, both grain eaters, as well as a myriad of other grain eaters, Partridge, Pheasant, Finches.

At present this story appears not to have broken in the press, so you may well have heard it here first.
Regards
Dave
« Last Edit: August 09, 2007, 23:05 PM by Wildside »

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2007, 23:17 PM »
Greetings Dave and All,
Never mind the grain eaters - what are the effects of this stupidity on the food chain at bread eater level?
Is it safe to drink Ribera del Duero?

Regs.,
Technopat

Ps.
Good luck to your nephew Julio - hope you been drilling him with that Scottish accent  >:D !
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2007, 21:37 PM »
Don't drink your tap water Dave!

"La organización agraria ASAJA ha denunciado que "millones" de topillos contaminan el agua en Castilla y León y ha exigido a las administraciones que tomen medidas urgentes, para garantizar la salud de la población."
From El Mundo
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Offline Sue

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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2007, 11:52 AM »
Hi Lisa, Dave and All,

Why did the field voles go to the water in such numbers and die, have I missed something here???

If they had been dosed with poison they would flock to water, but the article says that the ecologists prevented the poisoning from continuing…

And is the water snake, Viperina, in the photo with the El Mundo page dead as well??

When was the last time this phenomenon hit the area and did it result in a similar mess or “just” devastate the crops??

It sounds like they needed a plague of kestrels to deal with this!

Regards, Sue
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2007, 13:38 PM »
I'm stumped too. Presumably even though the practice has been halted, there is still residue/huge amounts? of the poison around. I suppose the snake is dead aswell as many other species in the zone.
Apparently this is a natural phenomena that can occur every 4/5 years when certain conditions exist. Here's the Ecologistas en Acción's perspective.
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2007, 01:09 AM »
Greetings Folks,
Know I'm going over beaten terrain here and preaching to the converted (to the Spaghetti Monster?  >:D), but though the 'ecologistas' (the bad guys, remember) "prevented the poisoning from continuing" we have no info. as to how many thousands of litres of poison was actually allowed by the Junta (actively - by licensed sub-contractors - or passively, by ordinary non-chemical expert Juan Español, farmer) to be spread.

Seem to remember reading once that most vermin poisons act by making the poor wee beasties' die of thirst. So where does one go when one's thirsty? And if any poor snake, migratory bird, Ribera-del-Duero-drinking human being happens to get in the way (food chain), the burden of proof lies where?

As for the kestrels ... please don't voice your (ironic?) suggestions aloud or this time next year we'll have ASAJA - or the P.P. - calling for culling.

Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
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Offline nick

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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2007, 13:42 PM »
Nick
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2007, 19:42 PM »
Thanx for that update.
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
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Offline nick

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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2007, 11:14 AM »
Another update
Los topillos ya están en los viñedos
http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/topillos/estan/vinedos/elpepusoc/20070804elpepisoc_4/Tes
Below a farmer with ruined potatoes
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2007, 23:08 PM »
Hola,

The BBC have picked this story up.. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6938247.stm

Why does it take an "expert" to "not" know what is going on....

Where have the natural predators gone? POISONED......

What upset the natural balance? THE FARMER HOLDING THE POTATO...

look in the background of the picture... Where is the cover for the fox. Is the sky full of shrikes and kestrels and little owls teaching their young and taking advantage of this bounty?

Where are they I wonder......

people like this cause the imbalance in the first place and now their next move is to burn the land? Well that's clever isn't it?


Clive!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2007, 23:17 PM by Wildside »
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2007, 11:54 AM »
Well said Clive  :clapping:
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Offline Dave

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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2007, 11:00 AM »
Hi Everybody
an article the other day in the Diario de Leon, showed farmers putting down plastic tubes in which poison was placed, so the poisoning is still going on. What should be remembered, is as I said in the beginning, it is a natural occurence, similar to the lemmings in northern climes, and as Clive quite rightly points out, the natural predators, are no longer present, the Tierra de campos is a very arid region, with little or no cover for anything, and does a very good impression of the Prairies of North America.
Regards
Dave

Offline Clive

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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2007, 11:12 AM »
Hola,

Dave, you mention that the place is very arid....

So, why are there fields and fields of potatoes being grown in an arid region? Another case of stupidity or what..?

As to no cover there is absolutely no reason why plants such as wild olive, European fan palm and pistacio could not be used as hedgerows and wildlife corridors....But of course the farmer wants one big field with nothing but a monoculture....I can guarantee there would have been cover of some sort before the farmer came in with his big machines and chemicals..

Down here in the Jerez and Arcos area, they are growing cotton, one of the most water wasting plants in one of the driest regions of Spain. Chemicals sprayed on a weekly basis...

The ignorance of the consequences that this monoculture attitude brings simply defies belief...

Clive
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Offline Dave

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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2007, 17:55 PM »
Hi everybody
The latest on the plague of Voles in Castillia y Leon, now the hunters are complaining about the numbers of poisoned animals other than the voles

El presidente de la Federación de Caza de Castilla y León, Luis Ciria, declaró ayer a Efe que las medidas tomadas por la Junta como remedio contra la plaga de topillos que afecta a la comunidad son «peor que la enfermedad» y añadió que la aplicación de venenos será «fatal» para el medio ambiente autonómico.

La iniciativa de distribuir clorofacinona «de forma incontrolada» matará a topillos «pero también a especies protegidas como las lechuzas y los mochelos entre otras».

«Son soluciones mal presentadas, mal planteadas y hechas por la presión de los colectivos políticos», añadió Ciria, quien tampoco cree en el anuncio de la consejera de Agricultura y Ganadería, Silvia Clemente, de acabar con el 95% de la plaga en cinco semanas.

Además está convencido de que «van a tener los campos contaminados durante al menos cuatro años, ya que muchos agricultores no utilizarán todo el remedio ahora y lo guardarán para posibles próximas plagas».

Ante estas circunstancias, los cazadores van a enviar circulares informativas a todos los asociados para indicar dónde se ha echado veneno y, según explicó Ciria, la Federación de Caza denunciará a la Consejería de Agricultura y Ganadería si se encuentran animales envenenados, ya que «envenenar el campo está prohibido».

Ciria acusó a la Junta de haberse olvidado de los cazadores a la hora de establecer medidas para acabar con los topillos, mientras que sí se han reunido con ecologistas y agricultores.

En este sentido, añadió que los responsables de la Junta «no han tenido la educación de invitar a los cazadores a una reunión para tratar el tema».

«Oscurantismo» de la Junta

Denunció además que «la Junta se está comportando de manera oscurantista con ellos porque se enteraron de las zonas en las que se ha esparcido veneno por la prensa y tampoco saben en qué dosis puede ser peligroso».

Ciria adelantó que la reunión con los responsables del Ejecutivo autonómico se producirá a finales de la presente semana y que en ella plantearán sus «problemas y dudas».

copyright Diario de Leon

As a footnote the most affected appear to be Owls (Mochuelos and Lechuzas )

Regards
Dave
« Last Edit: August 21, 2007, 18:08 PM by Dave »

Offline Sue

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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2007, 20:41 PM »
Hi Dave and All,

i'm glad to hear people fighting for the Little owls and Barn owls which sadly they say are the worst affected, but suprised that this comes from the hunting fraternity.
Some TV coverage showed narrow tubes being used to house the poisons to reduce the variety of animals that would find it.
Are pigeon, thrush, partridge etc still finding the poisons or is it now restricted to animals that eat the voles which are already suffering the effects.

My main question is ... what animals are being killed by these poisons that the hunters are allowed to shoot and eat?

regards, Sue
« Last Edit: August 21, 2007, 21:02 PM by Sue »
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2007, 21:46 PM »
Greetings Dave and All,
Thanx for that - amazing 'cos I'd've expected the president of the local hunters' fed. to be more or less 'in' with the Junta. Do you have any inside info - warring factions of the same party, etc.? Is it a catastrophe on such a large scale that everyone is abandoning the ship? Has this year's grape harvest been affected - i.e we should avoid any Ribera de Duero younger than 2006?

The operation was a success but the patient died,
Regs.
Technopat

Ps.
Lucky the powers-that-b at iberianatureforum have a blanket prohibition on the use of bad language, so I'll just limit it to:
Is there no limit to the stupidity (or whatever the reasons are) of the *@!!#€&#!!¿¿¡¡¡**  >:( and :banghead:
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline lisa

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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2007, 22:48 PM »
Fundación Global Nature, Ecologistas en Acción, Asociación para la Conservación del Lobo ibérico, Plataforma para la Defensa de la Cordillera Cantábrica, ACENVA y Cantueso) and SEO/BirdLife have collectively suggested short and long-term measures for the control of vole populations. These include biological controls using the vole's natural predators. Corvids, owls and kestrels should be encouraged as should foxes (instead of being shot.)
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2007, 00:03 AM »
Yeah, Lisa, but we all know that it's the **** ecologistas who are to blame in the first place - if they'd let us do it our way all these years we'd never have reached   this.
Who is you're saying should be shot?
On-the-warpath Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
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Offline spanishfreelander

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« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2007, 00:36 AM »
Hi all,
I cant understand how so many people in "authority" can be so short sighted?
Even at school,we all learned about "Food Chains",and the damage removing any of the links in it could cause the "Whole" chain.
Its not rocket science,remove the predators..the prey has nothing to limit its numbers and the population explodes...
Please send all of those in authority back to school for a well needed refresher course....
Dave

Offline lucy

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« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2007, 10:24 AM »
Reading about the topillo plague, there are some conspiracy theories flourishing: eg. the Junta introduced them as a food source to boost the bird of prey population.  It’s difficult to know whether to laugh or cry.  What’s the maddest idea here:  that the Junta care so much about biodiversity?  Do the farmers really believe this or are they just whipping up pressure to get compensation?  Right now it’s difficult to feel sympathy for them – they’re like the ganaderos who refuse to protect their herds and flocks, and then demand compensation (even when deaths are caused by abandoned dogs, rather than wolves.)