Monday, September 02, 2013

Booker on Badgers

Sunday's Telegraph carried Christopher Booker's article on the effect too many badgers have on other small mammals and birds. Earthworms may be their food of choice, but if it's too wet, too dry or too crowded, what then? Badger numbers have exploded and their success - or that of their protectors - has brought about carnage to other species and a  predictable parallel explosion in the disease which is endemic in them: Zoonotic tuberculosis.

While pushing ahead with the two small pilot badger culls, to ascertain whether free shooting of a nocturnal, subterranean, group mammal is 'humane', Booker points out that Owen Paterson has other plans for future control measures:
"This, of course, is why he repeatedly insists that the ultimate answer must lie, first, in developing much more efficient DNA testing to identify those badger setts which are genuinely infected; and, second, in looking at other methods of killing infected badgers more efficiently and humanely.

No one would argue for a return to the use of cyanide poisoning, banned in 1984 because it resulted in badgers dying a death just as unpleasant in its own way as that from TB itself. But the "euthanasia" of infected setts by gassing should not be ruled out (and could arguably be permitted under both the Bern Convention and the 1996 Protection of Badgers Act, which both allow the killing of sick animals for humane reasons).

One way or another, this disease has brought about a catastrophe for which a solution must be found."

A catastrophe is a very good description.

And the ecological imbalance which too many badgers cause,  we explored this in this posting and this one and also here, with a quote from an article published in the Journal of Zoology on the survival prospects for hedgehogs.

And on Mr. Paterson's future plans to specifically target sources of Zoonotic tuberculosis, as opposed to population reduction aka the RBCT Badger Dispersal Trial, our thoughts can be found in this posting.

 Here is Christopher Booker's full article.

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