Monday, January 10, 2005

A time to cull

So says the leader in The Daily Telegraph today, pointing up that "the case against badgers has now been vindicated." This refers to a new study in Ireland that demonstrates that reducing the badger population is the best way to contain tuberculosis in cattle.

"Every year," the Telegraph says, "the Government spends on bovine TB compensation as much as it has spent on the tsunami crisis. Ministers could save themselves this sum, and relieve our farmers from a nuisance, simply by allowing them to cull badgers, whose numbers have anyway hugely increased." It continues:

The trouble is that an anti-badger policy would fly in the face of the Government's approach to the countryside, which is based on the idea that wildlife should be protected from man. The badger, like the fox, benefits from having been anthropomorphised. In early childhood, we read stories about friendly-looking striped creatures called Mr Brock, and this makes us feel bad about slaughtering them.

This touchiness is based, not on morality, but on aesthetics. It has to do chiefly with the size and class of the animal. Country people who live and work with animals rarely succumb to such sentimentality. But they are outnumbered by the urban and suburban majority.

Even so, with a general election perhaps only weeks away, ministers would be well advised to demonstrate their awareness of rural sensitivities. The hunting ban has radicalised many non-hunting country people because they feel that the Government is not listening to them. Authorising a wider badger cull might help to mitigate their anger.
Good stuff from the Telegraph. The full story, written by environment correspondent Charles Clover, can be read here with a further story here on farmers demanding that they be allowed to cull badgers in areas where bovine TB.

What now Mr Bradshaw? Will you please explain why you are spending more on not solving the Bovine TB epidemic than the rest of the government is spending on the tsunami victims?

No comments: