Friday, April 20, 2007

ASBO's for Badgers??

The good folks of Gleadless, a village near Sheffield have had enough. They are now at their wits end with damage and trespass. Trees uprooted, property and personal damage, gardens wrecked and fences destroyed. The culprits? Badgers.

The DAILY MAIL tells the tale. This is a mirror image of Saltdean near Brighton where a colony of badgers caused / are still causing?? similar havoc. We described some of the damgage in our Dec 2004 posting:

For seven years the people of Gleadless have had to put up with this situation, and the colony responsible is now estimated to be around 100 badgers. That's big. A stable social group, we are told by Prof. Harris, (and the ISG, when it was out counting holes in the badger dispersal trial) is 8/10 individuals.

The only advise the residents can get is "Don't touch and don't interfere" ... and a reminder of fines per badger if they do. And from the S. Yorkshire Badger Group: "Employ a consultant, and install one way gates after the breeding season", this to encourage all the occupants of the setts to pack their respective bags and move. Where to? The very fact that they living so close to habitation, means that they are getting short of space. So is it acceptable to translocate 100 individuals onto someone elses' patch?

After years of similar problems in Saltdean, The Ministry raided its Tb budget coffers to provide the badgers with a concrete equivalent of the 'dome', and spent £500,000 on an artificial sett, in which to house them.

We find the comments interesting too. Naive but interesting. There is the old chestnut (and assumption in this case, because the article does not describe the age of the properties) that the badgers were there first. Now it has been against the law since the Badger Protection Act of the 1970's to interfere with a badger sett, so I very much doubt if the houses of Gleadless were built on top of one. More likely, as 'a stream' is mentioned, is that a colony has expanded from its ancestral home near this water source, upwards and outwards as numbers increased.

But mainly the comments concentrate on "fence 'em out". These correspondents really have no idea at all of the capabilities of an adult badger who wishes to get somewhere perhaps he should not. We have told you of schools who have spent thousands of pounds extending wire mesh fences 10 feet underground to try and keep badgers off their playing fields, and Defra'a 'badger proof' compound in Surrey has underground security to 15 feet. And it is reinforced concrete. This is a tad beyond the average resident of Gleadless we think. There's a pretty library picture of a couple of badgers in the article, so enjoy.


Vix said...

Hi Matthew, I am a student at Harper Adams and am writing my dissertation entitled "Examining the media portrayal of bovine TB as a current agricultural issue". I would be very grateful for any feedback or comments you or others have on this subject that can be published in my dissertation. My email address is

Many thanks


Matthew said...

We will pass your message on to our address book of farmers / vets concerned with bovine Tb.
Our own opinion is that the badger has acquired cult status, and his ancestral home a grade 1 listing. This situation in a species which is unfortunate enough to have an endemic zoonosis rampant has led to a polemic badger / cattle argument which quite frankly we have not been able to bridge.

We have read reams of work - all done at the taxpayers' expense - which could be skewed to mean .. well anything the reader wants it to mean. And the general media coverage is soooo basic and so desperate to show both sides that the arguments go full circle.

No one at all has attempted to answer the questions which prompted us to start this site. And that is, if a cattle herd has 'No Bought in Cattle' ... and its biosecurity is such that no cattle contact is possible either, where do long standing, pernicious test-after-test breakdowns come from? We've all had them, and did not go clear until the badgers responsible were either culled out, or died a disgusting death.

This disease did not come into our farms from the man in moon and even the pics of starved abcessed badgers which we have shown, do not dent the conviction held firmly by those who assert that cattle are to blame.

Within the organisations - and here both 'sides' are as bad - farners groups and badger groups, the polemic is such that a beneficial crisis is self sustaining and politicians happy to sit on the fence (There's more votes in a dead badger than a dead cow) feeding various educational establishments with grant aided 'research' instead of using what they have in pot already.

Good luck with your dissertation.