The Grand Alsatian Hamster makes a ruckus in France


Author:  Damien M. Schiff

The Wall Street Journal reports today on the controversy in Alsace over the dwindling numbers of the Grand Alsatian Hamster, a foot-long rodent that is hard to find in that region of France nowadays because farmers have been planting more corn, rather than hay and alfalfa (the latter are a better protective cover from predators for the hamster).  Some French activists successfully convinced the European Court of Justice in January that France had not been sufficiently protecting the animal, notwithstanding the fact that the hamster is found throughout Europe.  (When I say "activists" I mean it; these guys have even produced a mini-film for the rodent, Chronique d'un Grand Hamster; and if you're really interested, just YouTube search for "Sauvons le Grand Hamster d'Alsace").

The Journal quotes an Alsatian farmer as, reasonably, expressing strong Gallic skepticism at the utility of protecting such a creature at the cost of the local farm economy:  "Our economy around here should be wine and corn, because that's what makes money.  Why would you mess with the economy for a small animal?"  Indeed.