Last week the BBC - who else - broadcast a claim that an independent report into the recent trial Badger cull found that it was 'ineffective and inhumane.' Why the cull in the first place? Well badgers carry - and suffer from - TB (tuberculosis) . If a dairy cow gets TB and you drink it's milk you are in danger of yourself getting TB. So all cattle in the UK are routinely tested for TB and any found infected -or suspected of having it (the tests are not 100% effective) are slaughtered. In 2010 over 28,000 cattle where killed as a result. It has long been suspected that the prime reason for the spread of TB among cattle is the expansion of the badger population as infected badgers forage and dig in pasture and thus spread TB to cattle.
Enough about the background - what interests me is why people are so angry about the culling of badgers. I mean most of the population seem quite relaxed about the need to cull and control deer, foxes, rabbits, grey squirrels not to mention rats so why is Mr Badger singled out for special protection? The answer is I don't know. All I do know is that in 1992 an Act was passed making it an offence to kill badgers and that since then the badger population has exploded.
Let's tackle the 'inhumane' accusation first. Apparently - according to the leak - up to 5% of the badgers killed (by 'expert' marksmen) took more than 5 minutes to die. Now I find that statistic not only strange but frankly unbelievable. If you shoot any animal and you wound it you do not just hang about and wait for it to die you put another bullet in it at once. Also badgers are not exactly difficult targets, with modern night viewing devices shooting, killing a badger cleanly should be a doddle and how-incidentally - did this '5 minutes' statistic come about. Was there an independent inspector at the elbow of the marksman - and did that independent inspector refuse to allow the marksman to give the badger a second 'coup de grace shot? Frankly it all seems very suspect to me. As for the 'ineffective' charge. It is a little early in the day to call a cull designed to reduce the incidence of TB in cattle 'ineffective'
What the badger cull row highlights is the fascist tendency of animal rights groups - and bird rights groups for that matter. By fascist tendency I mean the belief that some animals or birds are superior to others - Eugenics in wildlife. So the RSPB believes that other birds are inferior to raptors -i.e. hawks, and is prepared to see any number of song birds sacrificed rather than approve the culling of a single Sparrow Hawk. Likewise the badger lobby cares nothing for cows needlessly slaughtered but sees badgers as some sort of 'master race' of the animal kingdom whose numbers must be allowed to increase regardless of the numbers of ground nesting birds whose nest it destroys or of the cattle it infects who must be killed