The town council of Paddock Wood, England, recently voted down a proposed site for 600 new homes after deciding it was “too dangerous” for the Hazel dormouse.
The councilors feared that the housing development would bring a small army of hungry pet cats that would then end up prowling the nearby Foal Hurst Wood nature reserve and decimate the population of the dormice, which are listed as an endangered species in Britain.
At last week’s meeting of the Paddock Wood Town Council, councillor Ron Goodman said the council was putting the safety of rodents ahead of road safety concerns of children living on the planned new estate.
Councillor Ray Moon rejected the charge, saying the council had a “responsibility to maintain the wood for future generations” and that “having domestic cats living nearby would be disastrous for small mammals.”
He told the meeting: “The Foal Hurst Wood option offers the most harm to the environment. It is an ancient woodland, it has dormice, it offers so many different things to that area.
“I’m willing to stand up and defend the dormice of Foal Hurst Wood on the basis that our schoolchildren want to see our wildlife thriving.
“I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up and say ‘I have never seen a dormouse, what is a dormouse?’ “
Councilor Goodman retorted, saying plans for the new homes should focus on the road safety of children living in the development, not the safety of dormice. “You’re trying to make a decision based on what’s good for dormice. It’s all nonsense. It’s crazy,” he said. “People’s lives are worth more than those of dormice.”
The site, however, was rejected by the town council after seven of the 10 councilors voted it the ‘least favored option’ of three proposed sites.
Local resident Amy Little, 32, said, “How they can get in such a tizzy about dormice is ridiculous. I know they are protected, but how can anyone make a rational decision if they are constantly worried about which animals might fall victim to cats?”
[Source: The Daily Telegraph]