Sunday, 9 February 2014

A Badger’s View of a Displaced Retina

In a week that has seen the weather go from bad to worse.  Day after day of constant rain and gale force winds gusting between 40 and 60 MPH, and then being greeted with the news of our Minister for the Environment, Owen Paterson was unable to attend his surveillance of the Somerset Levels sending instead the big cheese of all environmental issues, Lord Smith due to him suffering a detached retina.  I wish Owen Paterson a very successful outcome and a speedy recovery, but I would like to take this opportunity to point out to the government and Lord Smith that killing badgers will do absolutely nothing to alleviate the flooding problems of the South West. But along with it I must add none are so blind as those who won’t see and I am hoping that the Minister on making a full recovery will reconsider his policy on rolling out another totally unjust badger cull. 
I would think, when we all see the amount of misery this recent flooding has caused to so many families and businesses that the priority would be turned to dredging our rivers, investment in coastal defences and a land draining programme that at least equals the work done in the sixties.  Although, a lot of this flooding would have happened no matter what the environment agency would have done but there is no doubt with better environmental management the water would not have hung around for the weeks and weeks that it has, making a lot of peoples’ lives absolutely intolerable. 
Most rivers are only running at best half of their capacity because anything from 35% to 55% is silt and rubbish that has built up over the last thirty to forty years because the sad truth of this is, that since our water boards have been privatised, the maintenance of our rivers has been pretty much non-existent while water bills have gone up year on year. 
Always a conflict of interest.  Investors looking for the biggest dividends, the highest rates of return and the environmentalists looking for the good of nature, the land and the quality of peoples’ lives within it.  For the last ten years the farming community down around the Somerset Levels have been asking the government to look into the drainage problems and invest in drainage works and river dredging to try and protect their livelihoods, but what they got was a rolling out of a badger cull that will not abate the flooding problem neither will it do anything for the BTB predicament.
The millions spent on a futile badger cull would have gone a long way to dredging the River Parrett.  Last Friday I watched as the water crept in to some low lying woodland and a few hedgehogs that had spent the winter in an ‘on and off’ hibernational state due to the mildness of the winter, decided to up sticks and move further up into the woodland.  Although, we have seen the wettest January in 250 years this has surely got to have been one of the mildest winters on record.  When I see the sun which has been so conspicuous by its absence all winter I notice the little clouds of midges that have been present all winter. 
Although, I have told you that my badgers in their badger setts are in the peak of condition, so is everything else.  The seed, the fat balls and other various treats that we put out on the bird station has been nowhere near as much needed this year as in many others.  I have seen a 60% decrease in the amount of seed that I have needed to put out, solely due to the birds being able to find their food elsewhere.  The hedgerow larders have yet to be exhausted.  The reality on the ground is, wildlife have never had it so good. 
The Polecat has pushed the rats on from the badger sett.  Normality within the woodland is once again the order of the day.  Like the hedgehogs, like the rats and our illusive friend, the Polecat, once the sight of survival and wellbeing has been lost it can be so often replaced with uncertainty, doubt, hopelessness, negativity, mediocrity and defeatism.

A female badger just entering her sett in the pouring rain.

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