Friday, December 17, 2004

WMD Badgers

Farmers are used to dealing with damage from badger excavations, in fact Defra put a figure in excess of £25 million for the last year they asked anyone. And having awarded the badger sett Grade 1 Listed status, it is very difficult to deal with. Tunnels run out into fields leaving 'tank traps' for tractors and overturning trailers. Buildings are undermined and we have been told of a sett built under a slurry tank, which collapsed on a Sunday afternoon running its contents down the hill to the sea.

This year, the scourge of tunnels and holes was visited on 3 (at least) non farm locations and all these have made the news. Saltdean, we have described on this site where badgers excavated the back gardens of 4 domestic properties. That situation was offered a novel solution by the then minister Eliot Morley. After using all available expertise and failing miserably to exclude them Mr. Morley used taxpayers' money as part of the Tb budget, to build them an artificial sett. We are still unable to tell if you if it worked - or not.

This summer the Telegraph reported desecration on a large scale, of burial mounds on Salisbury Plain caused by - badgers. These sites were SSI's of the highest rated historical interest and should have had the full protection of the law. If any person had dared to heave out piles of bones with a spade then no doubt the proverbial book would have been quite rightly thrown. But badgers? Hey that's different, and arms and legs, ribs and skulls were churned out into the daylight.

Reported in the Telegraph this week, a further £500,000 damage. This time the little poppets drained a canal.
"Engineers said that the animals digging in the canal banks had caused an estimated £500,000 of damage to the Llangollen Canal in north Wales. They had caused a 10 million gallon leak which swamped fields and stranded narrow boats near Bettisfield, a village on the border with England"

One may enquire whether these were Welsh badgers trying to escape a possible 'go it alone' Tb strategy, or English badgers trying to get in. Has Mr. Bradshaw finally bitten the bullet? Doubtful before an election.

Either way the canal - now presumably without water, "will remain closed until Easter while repairs are carried out".

If the gardens of Saltdean are anything to go by, don't hold your breath that any such 'repairs' will have any longterm effect whatsover. This time it may be Mr. Bradshaw who has to construct 'artificial setts' under the guise of research and employ the badger equivalent of Pickfords.

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