Saturday, 7 September 2013

Badger: Lord Protector of the Woodlands

Another week into the badger cull and you do realise the futility of the whole shambles of it. Conservatives by their shear nature are supposed to conserve, while liberals are supposed to be, well, liberal. The instructions on the can are a million miles away from what’s happening on the ground, a sad enlightenment on today’s political party’s knee jerk reactions to please a tiny percentage of country’s population; a democratically elected government acting on dubious scientific evidence when, in reality, the flow of information runs in a totally different direction. Lord Crepps’ years of research have proven a badger cull won’t diminish the disease in cattle by any meaningful amount, but still they persist with this needless slaughter. Here we are in the twenty first century, practising nineteenth century politics, to appease a few, at the expense of the masses.
Last evening, on my way down to see the badgers, I managed to trip over a rather impressive hedgehog. After picking myself up and dusting myself down, I looked behind me and the hedgehog was just carrying on, unfazed, on its very intent route to our backdoor, where Jackie had left a bowl of kitecat. ‘So much for the country’s favourite emblem,’ I thought, ‘almost stopped me from seeing mine!’ As I walked towards the badger sett, on a beautiful early September evening, I couldn’t help but think just how lucky and blessed I was to be able to do this walk and see these sights on a daily basis. On getting to the sett, I was greeted by the Coopers, who told me with great enthusiasm that they were being able to get all eight badgers into the cage on the promise of a peanut supper on a nightly basis. If anyone could have achieved this feat, it was certainly the Coopers because their dedication to the badgers was awe-inspiring. As we sat there, watching the badgers mosey in and out of the cage after the peanuts, the old man badger lumbered out of it. Mr and Mrs Cooper said in unison: ‘Oh there he is, Daddy Cool!’ They had adopted the same name for this old badger as the one in the film I had made some thirty years earlier. Which, by the way, the first viewing of that film was for the Coopers. I laughed at the comment and, amazingly, he did look strikingly like my old Daddy Cool, in that film all those years ago. The two dogs, Mitch and Shep, who accompany me every evening, just sat there and watched as the badgers continued to ramble around. Mitch rolled onto his back, very much enjoying the attention given to him by both Mr and Mrs Cooper, in the form of many treats and a good tummy rub. Shep sat a tad more aloof, instead looking over to the badgers with an air of both awe and respect. I sometimes wonder if the two collies think that they were once part of the black and white sett amongst the trees. Some of the younger badgers returned the stares of awe, although with a hint of smugness as they finished off the last of the peanuts.
I left the Coopers and headed towards home. As I got nearer the house, I espied a group of five deer, just ready to raid our garden – again. As I watched them, a thought crossed my mind: ‘these deer can pass on TB to cattle just as easily as badgers can. What if Owen Patterson targets them next?’ The thought is not so alarmingly surprising as one might think. Who’d have ever thought that, in 2013, we’d be legislating the slaughter of the Lord Protector of the woodlands: the badger.

Deer too can pass BTB onto cattle. But, surely, they’re not to be targeted next?

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