Nieuws - 29 november 2012

Wild animals crossing

It can be hard to explain to people overseas that the Netherlands has an animal rights party with two seats in parliament - especially when I make clear that the concerns of its members go beyond banning hunting and fishing.

Nature development is another tricky subject, where I have to resort to words like 'new nature'. In many cases, we are really talking about nature restoration, I add, and this is a concept people are more familiar with. It gets really difficult when I explain that we spend tens of millions in the Netherlands on building viaducts - ecoducts - so that our animals can cross the motorway in safety. Isn't that an awful lot of money, people often ask. But I can explain it.
At least, I used to be able to. Now it turns out that not all animals are allowed to cross. Closed circuit cameras at Hulshorst make sure that no more than 10 stags get to cross the A28. The 11 th one faces a firing squad. Wild boar are not welcome everywhere either; nor is there an amnesty for mouflons. Outside the Hoge Veluwe National Park they are categorized as exotics, to be kept at bay. You are better off if you are a slowworm, fox or badger - they have right of way everywhere.
For a moment I thought this was just one big joke, or a motion by the far-right PVV. But no, this is a serious debate. I was inevitably reminded of George Orwell's classic 1945 novel Animal Farm: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.