This week I have been heartened and saddened in equal measure. I always feel very sanctimonious in coining that phrase, ‘I told you so.’
Twenty years ago I embarked on a personal campaign to rid the ‘willy nilly’ use of rat poisons in and around my area of the countryside. I suffered ridicule and various other knock on persecutions. True blue countryside does not automatically lend itself to any enlightening facts that various practises were showing devastating consequences to wildlife. For I had noticed through the eighties and into the nineties that I was finding more and more owl pellets coated with residues of blood which was the tell-tale sign that these owls were suffering internal bleeding. A sure sign they were taking prey that had been poisoned.
I arranged a meeting with my local MP, Geoffrey Clifton Brown who listened closely to my concerns but nothing readily appeared to be done. Certainly no new legislation to help stem these mind numbing acts. So imagine my delight last week sitting down to catch up with the Channel 4 news team and seeing the great Jon Snow out and about with an owl expert in the dead of night looking for Barn owls and bringing this particular rancid subject to the attention of a lot of sitting rooms throughout the land. And sitting there, listening to this expert, you could see Jon Snow’s love for these birds was tangible. He listened with the interest and dedication of a school boy. My only criticism was, the film was all too short. For Jon Snow is the type of character that possesses the charisma to be able to keep an audience totally engaged, much in the David Attenborough mode.
The startling and frightening statistics are that 84% of all countryside Barn owls are carry varying amounts of rat poisons within their systems. Hardly any wonder that owls are just nowhere near as common as they used to be.
And to add to my delight, the following night, also with Channel 4 news, Cathy Newman speaking to Tom Clarke about last year’s pilot badger cull in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset. The conclusion of which by all experts was that the badger cull was totally ineffective, and up to 18% of all culled badgers took far longer than five minutes to die, failing miserably the test of humaneness on all fronts.
As I sat and listened watching the short film I was left wondering why these superb news stations had not got far more involved with these particular news stories from the word go. It would have created a more balanced and even handed action rather than the cloak and dagger secrecy that the badger cull seemed to personify.
Surely in this day and age living in arguably the world’s greatest democracy making the public aware of this type of atrocity is a duty to empower everyone with the knowledge, statistics and facts to enable the public to make their own judgement, to search their own souls and see the badger cull of 2013 for the shambolic, debacle, inhumane, nonsense that it was always going to turn out to be. And the fact that worries and concerns me more than any other is that the United Kingdom’s most educated individuals who run our country were handing out misinformation on a daily basis on how these ‘magical marksmen’ could clinically finish a badger with one clean shot all the time, every time, when the reality of the situation was as far from those statements as anything could possibly be.
The badgers behaviour, to anyone who has studied them, that once startled they go immediately to ground and to drop a badger in its tracks has got to be a heart shot. To hit a badger in darkness is relatively easy, however, to hit a badger in the heart in darkness is always as much luck as it is judgement.
The miserable badger cull of 2013 created a situation where badgers were shot and going to ground taking hours to die, sometimes days and this was allowed to happen to an animal that just doesn’t do any harm.
Let’s all hope that the badger cull never returns in any guise or any form and that anyone creating any nuisance or any act of cruelty to all UK badger setts is dealt with in the most stringent of ways.
The hard man of the woodlands, the badger calls for total protection from all who wish it harm.
This is a short film of badgers being busy and making ready for their new cubs.
Busy busy busy, making the cubbing bed.