The badger: Hero or Villain?

 

Simmy Richman
Monday 24 September 2012 22:38
Comments

Small, furry, cuddly, no direct threat to humans … hell, they even creep around at night, when we're generally not around, so it's difficult to make the argument that the badger is a major pest (literally, the villain of this piece), and even harder to make the case that they must be mercilessly killed.

And yet, with bovine TB threatening many a farm that supplies us with milk and cheese, the new Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, has picked up where his predecessor, Caroline Spelman, left off and, last Monday, issued a licence for a badger cull to go ahead over 300sq km of Gloucestershire land.

Farmers and the Government are convinced this is the way to tackle the spread of the disease. The scientific evidence is often contradictory. Professor John Krebs, who ran a badger-culling trial, said that such tactics were "ineffective" and reduced the rates of TB in cattle by only 16 per cent.

But this is not an argument about whether badgers should or should not be killed. Your correspondent – although he read, and greatly enjoyed, The Wind in the Willows as a small boy – is a city dweller and can claim no expertise in either bovine TB or small, furry omnivores.

No. The reason badgers find themselves here is because of the ridiculous ways that otherwise sensible people will behave when their opinions on the subject have become sett (sorry) in stone.

The Government goes blithely ahead with its plan, in spite of much scientific evidence, because it needs to be seen to be doing something. The opponents of the cull are even more recalcitrant.

"I feel there's a war going on, and it's one we must not lose," the pro-badger guitarist Brian May has said. Other activists are reported to be planning campaigns involving the use of fireworks, rape alarms and vuvuzelas near the homes of farmers who allow shooting to take place on their land.

Small, furry, etc, etc … the badger: guilty of rending the rural community asunder.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in