It has always puzzled us that Natural England - or whatever they call themselves this week - have control over the wildlife reservoir of zoonotic Tuberculosis in Great Britain. In almost every other country in the world it is 'Animal Health' or its equivalent, which is the Government department responsible for clearing up Grade 3 zoonotic pathogens in animals. Our department is concentrating one hundred per cent on cattle, as we explained in the previous posting.
We spoke of our concerns as long ago as 2011, when this quango published its guidance - [link] for the proposed pilot badger culls. Natural England are also on record, off the record, as saying that the cull protocols would be as difficult as they could possibly make them.
This luke warm response to eradication of zTB in Great Britain, we discussed here - [link]
So apart from celebrating Easter, calving cattle, TB testing cattle and generally minding our own businesses, some of our contributors have also been wading through Natural England's new offers of cash for the preservation of the farmed Environment. Or their idea of what a farmed environment should look like.
Previously these grants have been in the form of hedge and bank management, buffer strips and beetle banks. But the new Mid Tier syllabus for 2017 - [link] , given NE's status as cull master, contains a rather contradictory option we thought.
An add on option for capital grants, contains the intriguing title 'FG 14 - Badger Gate - [link] and a description of the hoops through which to jump to get £135 for constructing such a device within an agreed plan, and up to £200 annually thereafter to maintain each one.
Badger tracks such as the one through grassland on the right, have to be studied, photographed and mapped. Then a specially designed gate flap installed in any new fence line, with no sharp edges on which they may hurt themselves.
Annual maintenance is carried out, together with detailed records of the event.
Sadly it cannot be used in an existing fence line, only in new fences supported by Countryside Stewardship, and curiously, not into areas where wetland birds nest. Which is strange as the published mantra is that badger's diets are made up of earthworms and grubs.
But a trail of peanuts and a trap the other side, could be a useful addition, could it not?
And possibly take this element of 'contradiction' out of Natural England's role of badger guardian.