Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Ragwort Awareness Week Donkey Sanctuary misleads people

Yesterday I blogged about  Ragwort Awareness Week and the British Horse Society's silly survey.
Today it is about the Donkey Sanctuary who have been encouraging people to do the silly survey and putting out their own poor and misleading information on ragwort.

For example they say.

Ragwort seeds can be dormant in the soil for up to 20 years.
Each plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds with a 70% germination rate.
The seeds would only rarely last that long in the seed bed  and that number of seeds is highly exceptional.
This is like saying that Mountains can be over 5 miles high because Mount Everest is about  that high.
What really betrays them as not understanding the science though, is their use of that  70% germination figure. This is perfectly normal for most plants. It is a a laboratory figure. It does not bear any relationship to how many plants that will grow. On average on plant will produce one new plant. In fact in the UK we know that it is less usually than that, because a properly constructed scientific government survey shows that it is decreasing.

Having earlier given a better description of the law they go on to say:-
Ask the occupier of the land, who is responsible under the Weeds Act 1959, to remove the ragwort.
This is again misleading. There is no automatic responsibility for landowners to control ragwort under the Weeds Act. In fact until the hysteria about ragwort came about the Weeds Act wasn't used and was even considered for repeal.
And finally seemingly as if to show they are being environmentally aware they say.
Cinnabar moth (Callimorpha jacobaea)
Ragwort is a source of food for the cinnabar moth black and yellow striped caterpillars.
The issue about ragwort isn't about the cinnabar moth. Dismissing the whole slate of egregious nonsense that offends the sense of reason of any rational minded person, the environmental issues are the destruction of habitats on roadsides and other sites where a yellow flower which may or may not be ragwort occurs.
The invertebrate interest is so great, covering many dozens of species, both as a primary food source and as one of the best sources of nectar that the Buglife have an entire section of their website devoted to explaining about and countering the nonsense about ragwort.

The real problem  is that these animal lovers in general are too nice. They are nice people who are ruled by their feelings rather than by rational thought. They get caught up in their emotions too much and are not good at distinguishing fact from fiction and thining about what is good information and what is not. We had what seems to have been a good example with a  spokesperson from the British Horse Society making Gaffes on the radio, (At least they are tremendous gaffes to me as I know the subject well.) where she didn't appear to even understand what a theory was.

As a result of this thinking problem , which is documented in research, we get poor science and poor information from many people involved in this issue.

The reality about ragwort is that it is an abuse and mistreatment issue. It is a problem in hay and a problem where animals are starved into desperately eating anything. Elsewhere it isn't a problem. The evidence internationally shows that ragwort poisoning is rare.

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