21 JANUARY 1938, Page 17

To Keep or to Kill ?

To preserve or not to preserve is not quite so easy a questioa as most humanitarian theorists would have it. For example : my postbag this week contains a long letter from the neighbour- hood of Dover, lamenting the disappearance of the many birds that used to visit the bird-table in the garden. The loss is attributed to the abandonment of a neighbouring estate. As soon as the keeper left the magpies increased and the small resident birds decreased and have not returned. It is certain that you cannot have both in quantity. Preserving the magpie and crow means killing the small bird. Of that there can be no question. In this reference at any rate the keeper is not ill-named. The satire in the name vanishes.