Yesterday evening I watched the badgers gather new bedding - out with the old and in with the new - industriously minding their own business, like all badgers everywhere. However, according to David Cameron, what a lot of these poor unsuspecting creatures need is a strategically placed lump of lead to cure all their ills and to save the British Government one billion pounds per year. This in turn will make British farmers succeed in the years ahead. “We need our farms to be strong and successful,” he said. No right minded person would argue with the last comment but why on earth do you need a Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publishing the government a twenty five year strategy plan on how culling badgers is the answer to all their ills. You can’t help but think that David Cameron, who doesn’t seem like a bad chap, is being very ill-informed and advised. For the last thirty years, successive governments have tackled this problem in an adhoc, mishmash fashion, in a kind of ‘pass the parcel’ type politics. Well now the parcel has stopped in the form of a ticking time bomb and the badgers are the poor creatures left holding it.
Thirty two years ago I first heard mention of AIDS/HIV. Scientists of the day said in their opinions there would not be a cure in our lifetime because the disease was so unbelievably complex. Here we are thirty two years down the road and they say the cure is within grasp, a problem that was “unsolvable” has become within reach in just over thirty years. Surely we can apply this logic to the issue of Bovine TB. Coming back to the TB problem, Adam Quinney, vice-president of the National Farmers Union, welcomed Mr Cameron’s comments and said there needed to be a long term plan.
Experts in the field of oral vaccination for badgers have said the vaccine is at least six years away. If the government were really serious about safeguarding the countryside and the beauty within it, six years does not seem that far away in the grand scheme of things, so my advice would be, until (and after!) we have developed a vaccine, to tighten up on cattle movements. The government never wants to mention it but this, in my humble opinion, is where Bovine TB - cattle to cattle - is transmitted. The truth of the matter is, no matter which side of the argument you happen to be on, oral vaccinations for badgers has never been an issue this government or any other government has ever been interested in. Let us keep our powder dry and wait for the vaccine.
I wonder where the badgers have got all of this barley straw from for their bedding...