In Which Those Furry Bitches Get What They Deserve

Back in the day (a hundred years ago), some New Zealand twatwaffle by the name of Joseph Hatch traveled to the small Antarctic island of Macquarie, where he saw the local king penguin population and thought, “Man, I could really use me some penguin lamp oil for this here lamp of mine.”

So, he boiled 3 million penguins for lamp oil, because that seemed the sensible thing to do.

It took a few years before people went, “Whoa, hey, Mr. Hatch… yeah, you need to stop boiling the penguins. We’re running out of them.” By then, the population of the king penguins on the island had been decimated. But, thanks to the rabid attentions of conservationists, the penguins survived and their numbers are at over a half million today.

Huzzah.

But, the penguins aren’t why I care about this story (note: I don’t want them dead- I like penguins). No, it’s more recent developments in the Macquarie situation that has me both intrigued and gleeful.

See, over the years, many non-native creatures were introduced to the island. Rats. Cats. And, oh yes, those damned fluffy-tailed hump-happy rabbits.

Little fuckers are everywhere.

Now, as is often the case when you introduce a non-native species to an area, nature got all unbalanced and shit. The feral cat population soared, and they started preying on the recovering penguins. Naturally, conservationists were a little pissed that the wild kittehs were eating their endangered babies, so the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service enacted an eradication program to take out the cats.

Except, the TPWS didn’t really think it through. As Hugh Possingham of the University of Queensland rather humorously put it:

It’s a generalisation, but people who do environmental work are often adverse to mathematics, and so avoid quantitative risk assessments.

Once the cats were out of the way, the rabbits were allowed to go nuts. Their population swelled from 4000 to 130,000 in just four years. They eat all the grass, which exposes penguin chicks to predators and fucks with the goddamn structural integrity of the island, causing dangerous landslips (like one that squished a penguin colony in 2006).

So, it’s now rabbit season on Macquarie Island. Which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Because the only good bunny

is a dead bunny.

Anyway, I think I’m going to look into visiting Macquarie Island this Easter. Seems like a lovely place to spend the holiday.

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