It's August so a nautical flavour to go with our Minister for Fisheries' bucket and spade in the post below. Bouyed up with the Irish badger trials results which cleared cattle Tb by up to 96 percent, our Ben is casting his net for a reliable culling method for old stripey. Cy-mag is OK he says for moles, rats and rabbits, but for badgers 'it's cruel'. Why he doesn't explain.
Obviously John Bourne's cage traps are disaster, 57 percent having suffered 'interference' and 12 percent went AWOL. Not exactly a clearance then was it John? So a boat-trip to Ireland for our Ben had him enthusing about what he euphemistically calls 'leg restraints'.
This is a slick and skewed description of what used to be called a 'snare'. The only thing in its favour is that any animal caught in one is unlikely to be removed easily when alive. With a trap, a badger becomes a Tb takeaway. It's trussed up, can't bite and can be translocated (rescued?) and released any where. But on every other count 'leg restraints' or snares are vile.
And imagine a photograph of a badger so 'restrained' on the front page of a tabloid.
Ireland may like them - we do not. What with an RTA survey which was distinguished more by its omissions than its content, (see post below) and now our Ben's unbounded enthusiasm for snares, one could be forgiven for thinking that he deliberately wants farmers and badger groups polarised. Surely not?
Anyway, on this tack and trying to gently steer the Minister to use the following wind of Treasury pressure, the NFU on Radio 4's Farming Today programme, (Friday 12th. and Saturday 13th. August) while explaining that culling badgers was illegal, said that the tools for the job and the expertise to use them had not yet been lost to the countryside. They told how badger social groups tend to heave out sick or old individuals, who then roam and excavate single hole sets, away from the main group. This was confirmed by the Minister in parliamentary questions (archived) for which, as ever we are most grateful.
It was into those sets ( in past times) farmers would control population densities by gassing from a tractor exhaust, or stationary engine. As with deer management, undertaken by our nautically challenged Minister last autumn, the national badger population was kept under control and more importantly - healthy. The speakers insisted that any control method considered, should be totally under Defra's control.
They also reminded listeners that tuberculosis spill over from infected badgers, had already been recorded in domestic cats (19 in one county) and a dog (report will be written up in Vet. Record this month).
The programmes can be listened to on the following link: