Leading article: Vile charge

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It's not not that Britain's friendly little water vole has been proved not to be a vegetarian after all that is so shocking, but that it should have a French taste for frogs legs. Voles, as we all know from ratty in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, are furry, eccentric, maddening but definitely not carnivorous creatures. It's bad enough that the round-nosed swimmers are being gradually wiped out by imported American minks. But to have this charge laid against the door of their burrows must be the last straw.

But there we have the evidence. The bodies of frogs have been left by the banks of the Kennet and Avon canal, minus their limbs. Can't be rats then, or snakes. They'd have eaten the poor frogs whole.

Yet wait a moment. There's no proof that the water vole is responsible, just supposition. And even if it is voles that are doing it, how do we know they're British? They could be cousins from France, where the eating of French frogs has been forbidden to protect the tail-less amphibians from their national greed, making the gourmet voles seek to slate their appetites over here. Go tell Mrs Duffy and, whilst you're at it, sniff around the dead bodies of the frogs. If there's a hint of garlic, the case is proved.

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