Over 30,000 badger killings sanctioned by DEFRA
This week, DEFRA announced that 11 new zones will throughout England will be designated for the culling of badgers, in a bid to limit the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis. The maximum number that the governmental department has set for culling is 32,347, in this year alone.
For a bit of perspective on this matter, it’s important to look back over the last few years badger culling numbers. From 2013 to 2015 less than 10,000 badgers were culled in total, in 2016, over 12,000 were killed in one year – so this year’s new limit seems to be extortionately high.
This handy graphic from the Badger Trust shows the increasing disparity between the last few year’s badger culling limits:
Proposed badger culls are have already been banned on Chester East Council land. Councillors have not openly confirmed this yet and also lack the powers to stop farmers from culling badgers on their own lands, however this marks a step forward for Badger protection and could lead the way for other councils who wish to follow suit.
The Government has defended the death sentence that they have laid on thousands of Badgers throughout the country, stating that it is the only way to stop the spread of bTb – however, as support for Badgers builds, more and more people are asking whether there is a better way to curb growing population of one of Britain’s most iconic creatures……
People often ask me ‘Why Badgers?’
These people, they think ‘Badgers aren’t particularly cute, Badgers aren’t particularly friendly, Badgers aren’t particularly sweet, Badgers aren’t particularly fun, Badgers aren’t particularly anything really! Just a bit sneaky and mean’ well, really none of that is relevant. I don’t dedicate so much time to saving Badgers because I love them more than other animals, I dedicate so much time to protecting Badgers because they are under attack!
It’s because people are waging a campaign to have them needlessly slaughtered, actually, that’s why I happen to be trying to save them from being needlessly slaughtered. This is, I feel, a pretty good reason to start helping Badgers. To want to stop the cull does not mean you want to take a Badger home and put it in a cot with you’re new born child. It just means you don’t think they should be slaughtered. Pretty simple I’d say. Yeah some people are involved because they are just massive fans of Badgers, but its not just for fans. It’s funny, you know, I was at a Beatson Industrial Fans and Electric Motors the other day and was taking a good long look at a fan there. And I tell you about fans…
…is yeah, they blow a lot of air, but they don’t seem to really care who they are blowing at.…
Allies in the great war to save the lives of the precious badgers are many and sometimes surprising.
But, perhaps a less surprising but all the more exciting one came in the form of Bodger and Badger! Bodger and Badger where a a very much well loved children’s television duo consisting of Bodger, a lovable but some what foolish middle aged man, and his best friend Badger! Badger loved mashed potato, was exceptionally mischievous, good at hiding from other humans, and also, a badger!
Boom! Bodger and freaking Badger! They were the best man, kids TV at its absolute peak! Man I loved that shit. Bodger was very funny, perfect for kids TV, very deliberate and thought through, very clear in where the joke was, and badger, wow!
He was a funny Badger. Bodger and Badger are strong supporters of the anti-cull movement, and good for them!…
Badgers are precious.
They are on this land and we have no right to just murder them. Why do people not understand this? Why can they not get this into their stupid heads? And yes, their heads are stupid! They are incredibly stupid heads, these heads that sit on the shoulders of bodies whose hands are covered in blood. The blood, and the guts, and the deaths, of innocent badgers.
If only the Badgers could talk for themselves, if only they could stand up in court and defend their kind. The righteous justice they would bring to bear on our heads would be brutal, they would lay waste to the intellectual skulduggery of these badger murdering fools. Just image the tall and proud Badger standing tall and proud in court, bringing his fist down, splintering the wood, beating on his chest, letting truth ring out through the courtroom, letting truth ring out through the city, letting truth ring out through the country and through the world: Badgers have a right to life.
Life. That is all any of this is about. The life of cows, the lives of farmers, the lives of Badgers. We understand that farmers have a livelihood, a livelihood reliant on the health of their cows, and that those lives are threatened by bTb. Scared, scared for the sustainability of all they hold dear and in this vulnerable, fearful state they have been offered a solution based on aggression and misinformation, a solution that relies on the slaughter of a wild animal, a solution that is ineffective. A solution, in short, that will not work and should not be carried out.
Good news is rare in the plight of the badger, so when it comes it should be savoured. Up and down the country people who want to support these beautiful creatures are making spaces where they can live and thrive in safety. In Yorkshire, at the beautiful Bowland Fell Park, steps have been taken to support the badger community. You can support them by checking out Bowland Fell Park Static Caravan this summer. Support the badgers, for they cannot stand up and argue for themselves. Against genocide, it is those who are not under attack that mus stand up.
First they came for the badgers, and I did not speak out-
Because I am not a badger.
You are not a badger, but you must speak out.…
Winter can be hard for badgers.
Whilst better built than others for the colder climbs that cloud the years close and birth the badger can still struggle when the frost comes.
Badgers do not, however, hibernate in the traditional sense though they do to some extent implement a sort of ‘hibernation lite’. They do fatten up during the autumn when there is an abundance of food and access to food.
If it is particularly frosty and cold in the winter, if the ground has become particularly hard and getting worms and other food is getting difficult, if the cold is particularly energy sapping and tough, badgers will spend more time underground but they do not go into any form of extended sleep that would constitute hibernation.
But winters in this country are becoming more irregular and harder to understand and predict. Badgers who have developed behaviour patterns that fit winter as it has traditionally come to this country are now being tested. In my local area I know the resident badgers very well and have seen their struggle with these increasingly erratic weather patterns.
At a sett near my house recently I have been trying to help badgers going through a tough time by heating them with a wood burner that burns briquettes and pellets so it doesn’t add to the problem! just to try and bring some heat to them and help them along a little. The good thing about a briquette and pellet burner is that it doesn’t produce too much light or noise, so if the badgers do want to sleep, nothing’s stopping them!
Now that makes for a happy badger!
I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or if it is going to some how mess them up or something, but it seems to be going OK. I think we’ve just got some happy, cosy, comfy badgers on our hands! And that can’t be a bad thing, now can it badger lovers?…
If we are going to save the Badgers, we need to think outside the box.
I’ve been trying for a long time to stay on the side of the calm and collected and to work within the system to try and find a solution to the bTb outbreak that does not involve the pointless slaughter of hundreds of innocent and beautiful wild Badgers. I always thought, you know, ‘there are ways of dealing with these things, their are routes to the doors of power, and the people behind those doors are reasonable, they are not simply going to support the genocide of an animal just ‘because”. Because it’s popular, because it’s simple, because it’s easy, because it gets them the rural vote…
But, unfortunately, that is exactly what is the case.
So, now I look in the mirror and I say to myself: ‘So what now? Is that it? Is that battle over? Have they won?
Are you able to look at them and accept that they have won this war and not say that if they have won according to the system, if they are right according to the system, then that does not clearly mean that the system is BROKEN’ Can you tell yourself that?
Can you accept defeat? Can you stay in the box if the box is clearly wrong?
Well, I think, if we’re going to fight these culls, thinking outside their box, might mean thinking inside a box…
That’s right, we’ve been looking long and hard at some packing crates and cases that we might be able to use to hide and protect badgers during the culls.
If we prepare these timber crates properly we can attract the badgers into them over night and save them from the bullets and traps of the cullers. This is our duty, these timber packing cases. This is our duty to the badgers. This is our duty to nature. This is our duty to humanity. This our duty to ourselves and our movement.
This is our duty.…
What is the situation with TB in the UK?
Bovine Tuberculosis (bTb) is a disease that is highly infectious and effects the respiratory abilities of cattle. The disease is spread by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis, and leads to lesions growing in the lungs of the infected cattle or any of the other of the wide range of mammals that are susceptible to the disease. At this stage there is no known cure for bTb and no legal or useful (more on that to come) vaccination. When a cow is found to have been infected with Tb it is killed, as the disease is highly infectious farmers and cattle suffer greatly from an outbreak.
Since January 1st 2008 278,263 cattle have been culled in Great Britain because of bTb.
Badgers, Cattle And TB.
Aside from Cattle, bTb can also infect a wide range of mammals, including Badgers. As the research stands now we know that bTb does pass between populations of Badgers and Cattle, though we know little about how this infection is actually happening. It appears that Cattle can contract bTb from both direct and indirect contact with infected Badgers. It is very unclear how many outbreaks of bTb amongst cattle are due to Badger contact, the most up to date studies estimate that roughly 50% of outbreaks can be related to Badgers, but the number directly caused by Badgers is closer to 6%(1). The pathogen being dealt with here has a very complex biology which makes dealing with, understanding and preventing outbreaks of bTb very difficult and very complicated.
Vaccination- there is currently no legal vaccine against bTb, the only current Vaccine is called the BCG vaccine – Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette-Guérin. As you may understand most vaccination involves partially infecting the patient with an amount of the very disease that you are trying to prevent it getting as often a disease can only infect an animal once, meaning that if you can infect it whilst preventing the effects of the disease some how you can stop it getting the disease proper.
The problem with Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette-Guérin is that though it is seemingly effective, the tests we use to identify bTb in cows cannot differentiate between a cow infected with bTb and a cow who has been given the version of bTb in the vaccine. This renders it effectively useless as it would leave us unable to detect if the animal has been infected with bTb and hence unable to stop an outbreak.
Work on an effective test that could tell us what we would need to know is ongoing, but even if/when it is achieved it will have to go through years of testing and EU approvals. All this means that even good estimates say it will be ten years before vaccination is a realistic solution to the bTb problem.