Whilst down in the smoke for a couple of days, I noticed a story in the Grauniad that related the cost of Ken Livingstone’s campaign against the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. Now, I have every sympathy with the ambition to reduce the numbers of flying rats in the nation’s capital and applaud the use of biological control, i.e. hawks, but was astonished at the tone of the reporting in the Grauniad, which at one point said:
“Protesters claim that on one occasion a hawk swooped and killed a pigeon in front of children.”
This is the nub of the story for me: not that hawking pigeons off the streets is a bad thing nor that the hawks should feed on the pigeons is a terrible thing, but that some people are so thick that they think it’s outrageous that children should have the inestimable privilege of actually seeing a raptor take and feed on a prey bird. I would be fascinated to see that – I’ve come close, but never quite seen a hawk take a bird on the wing – and it would be a wonderful education for city kids to understand some of the processes at work in the wild, but “protesters” think that this is somehow appalling and to be deprecated and therefore a reason why biological control should not be used in the city.
I mentioned this to Her Maj, who was firmly of the opinion that it would be a privilege to see a hawk in action, including taking and eating a pigeon, and that to protest about children seeing this was complete nonsense given the amount of violence to which they were exposed on television. I can only concur.
Now, the cost of the operation, that’s another matter, but I’m not a London rate-payer …