Badger the Badgers
14th August 2002 - The Guardian
- by Mark Oliver
There is a sneaky plan afoot to
badger the badgers.
Read all about it here:
Badgers are evil. At least that's what a certain group of farmers and
hunters want you to believe, according to a Guardian report today about a plan to blacken the name of the cute, zebra-snouted little rascals.
Lovers of badgers, which are flourishing in the countryside
due to legislation to protect them (badger-baiting was outlawed in 1835,
and 1991 saw laws introduced to protect setts), are incensed at the aims
of certain elements (ie the British Association for Shooting and
Conservation) in the country that want to be allowed to bag themselves a few.
A number of interest groups with allegedly anti-badger agendas,
including the National
Farmers' Union and the Country Landowners Association, came together
recently to promote the continued use of snares to keep pests under
control. The minutes said: "For media purposes it was suggested that, with
care, the excessive popularity of badgers needs to be reversed and the
problematic image of the fox maintained."
Note the "with care" there - well you've not been so careful letting
the Guardian's environment correspondent get hold of the minutes, you
would-be badger-killers. The National Federation of Badger Groups says the aim of some
country organisations appears to be the "ruthless exploitation of the
countryside at any cost to wildlife".
We need to question whether the dark forces have already been mobilised
against the badger: a story was circulating yesterday about badgers
threatening to undermine houses and an electricity substation in
Talking up alleged links between badgers and the spread of tuberculosis in cattle has been one tactic of the
anti-badger brigade. Scientists have apparently just about disproved as a
myth the claim
that badgers are a big threat to ground-nesting birds.
Badgers have lived in Britain for at least 250,000 years. There are
a quarter of a million of them in the UK, unevenly distributed across the
country. Badgers like to build their setts into sloping ground in woodlands, especially where
the drainage is good and the soil is not too heavy to dig. They are rarely
seen during the day, but forage for food at night.
Their favourite foods are earthworms, insects, roots, fruits,
berries and pork scratchings (given half the chance). They are also
apparently very amorous animals.
Lord Brocktree, who features in the books of Brian
Jacques, is perhaps the most celebrated fictional badger.
For all their cuteness, they remind me of old men, with receding greased
back grey hair, wearing overcoats while shuffling around, slightly
inebriated. But maybe that's just me.