Conservations want to 'save' all badgers - even Tb infected ones. Farmers want to kill all badgers. Eradicate, eliminate,exterminate.
Neither is true, but a beneficial crisis employing many industries has evolved around keeping the myth alive.
At a recent 'consultation' meeting on Defra's "new Tb strategy' a roar of disapproval went up from vets and farmers present when the 'E' word was mentioned. They wanted to 'Eradicate' Tb they said, NOT badgers, which were a valued part of the ecology.
Wildlife Trust members at the meeting had no problem at all with a management strategy which involved euthanasing infected groups of badgers, highlighted by 'sentinel' Tb testing of cattle.
The report on the meeting failed to mention either point.
Trustee of Somerset wildlife Trust Dr. Willie Stanton produced a paper in 1999, arguing for management policy to be introduced for badgers, in the interest of the wider ecology. He sites their 'extermination' of innoffensive residents of our countryside, hedgehogs, toads, bumble bees, slow worms and many species of ground nesting birds including skylark, lapwing, curlew and partridge. Dr. Stanton proposed no more than 1 main badger sett per 1 sq. km. and non at all within 750m of either senstive wildlife habitats or human housing.
So if farmers want a healthy, vibrant badger population, and conservationists appear to want the same - where is the conflict? Why the use of that emotive 'E' word? It polarises opinions - and that division now supports a £74 million industry, with a predicted growth rate of 20 percent p.a.