Mayfly has once again honoured us with its presence. A time of the year when fly fishing is at its best. These last few days have simply been quite heavenly. Soft, warming and embracing sunshine that seems to wrap itself around the delicate young foliage and grassy river meadows, encouraging growth and nurturing all the new born additions to nature’s kaleidoscope of life.
It is especially this time of year you see nature’s eco system working to the manner with which it has become tuned to. Manifesting itself in an almost constant flux of diversity and change.
As I stand on the side of the river bank with my trusty split cane fly rod, relishing every second of this God given bliss, the annoying, niggling arguments of the Badger cull of 2013 are never far from one’s mind.
An interesting development this week from a Dr. Chris Cheeseman, a Badger Ecologist of the highest order. A few weeks ago, Princess Anne’s remarks on gassing Badgers stating that it is the most humane way of dealing with them in her opinion was this week firmly put straight.
Back in 1982, Dr. Cheeseman witnessed first-hand experiments on the designed efficiency of Hydrogen-Cyanide (HCN) at Porton Down’ chemical defence establishment and what he witnessed, he reported as truly shocking. HCN was believed to be humane in its action, with animals lapsing into unconsciousness and either dying if the dose was lethal or recovering without ill effect from a sub lethal dose. He had witnessed Badgers retching and vomiting while making distress calls. When the Dr was asked what his thoughts were on gassing with HCN, he said it was clearly inhumane and should be stopped immediately. This was (as I have said earlier) in 1982 and now here we are in 2014 and our own Princess Royal putting it up as an option.
Work was also undertaken to try to explain why Badgers frequently dig their way out of setts that have been power gassed with HCN. Whole setts were evacuated with convoluting tunnel systems, hundreds of meters long, thus, gas concentrations fell well below the lethal dose to kill Badgers. The demonstration for humanness of any gas, whether it be Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Di-Oxide or any other candidate gas fell far short of what you would expect from something being described as humane. Like with free shooting, it is indiscriminate and as well as the infected Badgers being culled there is also a large percentage of healthy Badgers that are also destroyed. Badger setts are so very often in the most inaccessible places, the complex structure of setts make it almost impossible to achieve the lethal concentration of gas required to kill and Dr. Cheeseman also thought it terribly unlikely to be cost effective. His words were, “To gas Badgers is a non brainer.”
Cattle measures are the key tools to control Bovine TB as Wales has already demonstrated by nearly halving the number of cattle slaughtered in just four years, from 11,671 in 2009 down to 6,102 in 2013. This was achieved without Badger culling.
The facts of the matter are, the spread of TB is done from cattle to cattle and if there is a need to tackle the disease in Badgers, vaccination offers the only viable option.
My bitter disappointment with the BBC with its blanket non coverage of any news whatsoever to deal with the culling of Badgers was a travesty and in my humble opinion a blight on a normally great organisation.
The Badger activists who give up their spare time and try their level best to bring this catastrophic, hair brained DEfRA, bully Badger tactics to the fore are to be applauded. I have been told many times that public opinion on what happens to the British Badger is almost non-existent, that nobody cares, which is undoubtedly true, and when you see the organisations like the BBC with complete black out coverage, it is little wonder that the British public have no interest as they are so ill informed and so therefore totally ignorant as to what is going on in our glorious countryside.
The Badger cull is a total waste of time, it will do nothing to alleviate TB in our cattle herds and it has already been proven to have had an absolute catastrophic effect on our totally innocent British Badger.
My particular Badger sett is still doing exceptionally well. Daddy Cool has moved his family, once the cubs were big enough to travel to the Northern boundary of the woodland and as I sat watching the sett on Wednesday evening, I was quite alarmed to the fact that Mother Badger was spending sometime on spring cleaning her sett. I had been there half an hour and no sign of the cubs. After a further twenty minutes or so, Mother Badger seemed to be getting a tad anxious, but as you can see in my short film her anxieties were unfounded. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDCKfJ95dZw
Cubs return home.