Sunday, May 28, 2017

Matt Ridley on badgers

While not as acerbic as Jeremy Clarkson - [link] in our posting below, Matt Ridley writing in the Times and on his own blog - (link) argues the case for controlling badger numbers.

He begins thus:
Badger culls work. They worked in Ireland, where bovine tuberculosis has been largely eliminated. Recent badger culls in Britain, though apparently designed by timid bureaucrats to fail and thereby frighten off politicians, have almost certainly been a success, resulting in a big drop in tuberculosis among cattle. True, the government has been slow to publish this officially — the data are working their way through the scientific journals — but the anecdotal evidence is now strong.
The article then points out that dozens of farms in the cull zones that had been closed down by TB for decades are now going clear. Which is true. But these will not show up under the data collection methods prescribed by Messrs. Donnelley and Co - [link] at Imperial College, as the herds under restriction within a short period of the cull beginning, were apparently excluded from their results.

 We would point out the obvious here, that if ALL herds in cull areas were under TB restriction at the time a cull of badgers began, and all subsequently went clear, then there would be no data to collect at all. Sometimes, simple squared really does equal stupid.

The article then describes the wider benefits to the ecology of controlling badger numbers, citing hedgehogs and bumble bees as species with the most to gain.

  " Human beings should not shirk their duty as the apex predator," says Ridley, whose article concludes:

 Having long got rid of the wolf and the lynx, people have unleashed middle-ranking “meso-predators” such as badgers and foxes to reach unnatural densities with devastating effects on other species. To restore an ecological balance, they need to control the numbers of these animals."

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