21 JANUARY 1938, Page 17

Vanished Species

The tale of vermin, so-called, has altered immensely in England as doubtless in both Wales and Scotland. A game- keeper's list of victims of about a hundred years ago contains a scarcely credible number of stoats year after year and only an odd rat or two. We may, I think, presume that the reduction of stoats has encouraged the rat, which, on the whole, is the more destructive animal. It has been virtually proved that weasels do not directly attack rats, and they are too small to make such a combat likely ; but there is much evidence to suggest that rats do not like their neighbourhood ; and the more numerous the weasels, the fewer the rats, is accepted as a general rule by many farmers. Indeed, I knew a Midland farmer who prohibited the killing of weasels on his premises, and it was the only animal he thought of preserving. The constant campaign against vermin has destroyed the pine- marten and the wild cat, though some surprising reappearances have been reported.