Saturday, May 27, 2006

Spitting badger terrorises staff at sports centre.

Reported in the Western Morning News this week, staff at a watersports centre are nervous after being attacked and chased by a large badger:

"Night staff at a top Westcountry watersports centre are fearing for their safety after a string of attacks... by a three-foot angry badger.

The fearless animal has been terrorising late-shift workers at the Mount Batten Centre in Plymouth.Several members of staff have reported being ambushed by the creature as they make their way home through the car park. The badger, which is thought to be protecting young nearby, lurks in bushes near the centre's car park - and charges at anyone who strays too close. Recent victims have included night porter Glynn Webb and barmaid Tamsin Parish. Miss Parish, 23, had the fright of her life when the stocky animal started thundering towards her as she made her way home at the end of a shift."I was making my way to my boyfriend's car when I caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye," she said. "I've never seen anything move so fast in my life - it was just streaking towards me."I know it sounds silly but I ran as fast as I could. I haven't been to the car park at night since."

Mr Webb, 68, was also left shaken after a run-in with the badger. The former able seaman said the animal has absolutely no fear of humans and is quite willing to launch an attack."I shone my torch at him, and he spat at me. Then he just put his head down and charged. I was so startled I hit my nose on my torch."

Plymouth naturalist Kevin Witts said badgers only became confrontational if they felt their young were threatened - or if they were going senile. He said: "It may be a female with
cubs, or possibly an elderly badger that's losing it a little bit. Either way, it keeps the security staff on their toes."

Well, well well. The passage which we have highlighted in bold is extremely relevant to 'transmission opportunities' for bovine Tb.

So when you hear a scientist in need of further research funding, pleading with his audience:
"but we don't know how bTb is transmitted between badgers and cattle", we do hope that our readers will remember, not only that this animal charged members of the public, attacked them, and generally pursued them around a car park, but that it spat at them. We also suggest that any 'naturalist' wheeled out to comment, will be aware that badgers who behave in this way are not necessarily 'senile', but may be in the later stages of Tb, excluded from their social group and its area, behave 'atypically' (aggressively?) and wander more.

23rd. March 2004 : Col 684W

Mr. Bradshaw: Research conducted by the Central Science Laboratory has identified behavioural differences between badgers excreting M. bovis, and uninfected animals. Badgers excreting M.bovis had a larger 'home range' and were more likely to visit [farm] buildings.

Or sports centres?

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