Monday, 2 July 2012

Bye bye, Brock

I'm not sure that the badger could really be described as one of our cuddliest wild animals.  Cute, perhaps, but not exactly cuddly.  Indeed, I believe it can actually be quite ferocious and those strong claws, ideally suited to digging through earth and stones, could do extensive damage to human flesh.  Nevertheless, Kenneth Grahame probably did the creature a lot of good in the eyes of townie children with his depiction of the animal in Wind in the Willows.  Mind you, the idea of a mole and a water vole teaming up with an animal about 100 times as big does take some swallowing now that I'm an adult.  I just took it for granted when I read the book as a child.

I've only seen a real live badger on two occasions - both in recent years and both in the town - although I have, of course, seen numerous carcases at the side of the road.

But whether the animal is seen as cuddly or ferocious, there are many farmers who see the badger as damaging to thier livelihoods.  You see, the badger can be a carrier of bovine TB. The government, in its collective wisdom and acting partly as a result of pressure from farmers, has instructed that badgers be culled from two areas to see if that reduces or even eliminates outbreaks of tuberculosis in cattle in those areas.

It may be that I'm just a soft-hearted townie but I can't help thinking that the elimination of badgers from any area as a result of deliberate extermination is wrong.  My brain tells me that if badgers are removed from any limited area, no matter how large or small, other badgers will simply move in from neighbouring areas and everything will be back to square one.  Surely the only foolproof way of dealing with this problem would be the complete elimination of badgers from these islands?  And just who do we think we are if we even contemplate such drastic action?

I have every sympathy with farmers trying to scratch a living from the land, especially dairy farmers who are paid (by supermarkets) less for their milk than it costs to produce it, but I cannot agree that a cull, even a limited cull, of badgers is the answer to this problem.  If, indeed, the badger is the problem in the first place.


I am certain that there are badgers in Stanmer Great Wood.  This year, for once, there are also foxgloves.  The seeds have been lying dormant for years until this area was cleared and coppiced and now the flowers are in bloom.

1 comment:

Uncle Skip, said...

I love that book... er, well, I really like it a lot.