So, as was reported here late last year, the Scottish are reintroducing the beaver to Scotland, even though they’ve been gone not for 50 years but for 400, and they might return to find that the neighborhood has changed somewhat in their absence. Anyway, Clarkson takes this, goes to Yellowstone, and runs with it:

The Sunday Times – Jeremy Clarkson: Letting beavers loose in Scotland is dam foolery<br/> I have this advice for Scotland’s eco-ists: don’t try to manage nature. Embrace it. Make it a part of you. Eat it

For me, the problem with reintroducing beavers to Scotland, where they haven’t lived for 400 years, is that pretty soon the Highlands will be a broken and desolate place full of nothing but poisoned oxbow lakes, dead deer and grouse moors that look like the UAE’s empty quarter.

To understand the problem, we need to go back to the 19th century and the creation of Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. Obviously man knew best, so to make sure it was as diverse as possible, bears and wolves were not encouraged with quite the same fervour as various deery things. Which meant that pretty soon the whole place was awash with elk. Lovely.

Unfortunately, elk absolutely love aspen trees, which meant that soon enough they were all gone. And that was a problem for Johnny beaver, because without the aspens he couldn’t dam the rivers and streams. So he moved out. And without the dams, the water meadows dried hard in the summer months, meaning there was no grass for the deery things to eat. So they started to move out as well.

Unwilling to accept they’d made a mess, the authorities blamed the migration on carnivores and started a cull of wolves and bears. Which meant their numbers started to fall, too. Until in the 1950s pretty much all any visitor could see on a trip to Yellowstone was about a million bored elk wondering if the fender from Wilbur and Myrtle’s Oldsmobile would keep them going till the aspen trees came back.

And then came the clincher. Unlike the Indians, who had regularly burnt the region, the whitey eco-ists had steadfastly waged war against all forest fires. This meant the ground was littered with tinder-dry fallen twigs and branches. So when the lightning struck in 1988 and the fire started, it burnt close to the ground rather than in the trees. This meant it burnt hot and could not be extinguished and the result of that was simple. The soil in the entire park – all 2m acres of it – was rendered sterile and useless.

Heh. Yep.