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Jane Ratcliffe - Obituary

Guardian - 4 January 2000

by Patrick Barkham

Jane Ratcliffe, who has died aged 82, was a passionate wildlife campaigner, naturalist and author, renowned for rescuing injured animals and releasing them back into the wild.

The enduring testimony to her fight against the digging, baiting and killing of badgers is the 1973 Badgers Act - the first protection for wild land mammals ever passed by parliament.

A resolution on badger protection submitted by Ratcliffe to her local Women's Institute in Cheshire was adopted by its national conference in 1970. She then helped Lord Arran pilot through his private member's bill, which made it an offence to "cruelly ill-treat" badgers.

She combined this work with the physical protection of badgers from hunters with dogs, as well as recording the decline of the local badger populations, rescuing wounded badgers and moving whole setts to safer locations.

Through the Badger Gate (1974), her story of the battle, was serialised on BBC Radio 4....

For 25 years, she rescued hundreds of injured birds and mammals, including badgers, foxes, buzzards, owls, kestrels and peregrine falcons. As the title of her second book, Fly High, Run Free (1979), emphasised, she never sought to tame nature, preferring to release creatures back into the wild.

......As she argued in Through The Badger Gate: "We, as human beings, were lucky enough to have evolved a high-powered brain, but this does not give us such superiority over all living things that we are entitled to treat them in a servant and master relationship."

Edna Jane Ratcliffe, naturalist and writer, born June 2 1917; died December 3 1999

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