When people find out about my wanderings I am often asked questions or provided with advice. I am usually happy to chat with people, it is surprising what can be learned. However as I have mentioned in a few blog posts what I learn is not always what people wish to teach me.
On a few occasions I have been told I should be careful of badgers. I have been told they are aggressive and are likely to injure my dogs or possibly even myself. Those who tell me such things have often heard tales from friends of friends and relate them to me with the best of intentions. I have walked at night for over two decades now and I have encountered badgers on a few occasions. As with all wildlife I try to give them space and not disturb them but there has been a couple of occasions where I have literally bumped into them on a narrow track. The dogs are of course fascinated with the sturdy creature standing before them and do wander up to investigate, much to the badgers annoyance. In such circumstances I call the dogs back to me and create an opportunity for the badger to wander off or bypass me (on one occasion the dogs were behind the badger so I stepped from the path to allow the badger to run past me). By giving the badgers what space I can, I have never once had a dog or a badger injured.
A couple of weeks ago I got the news of the governments plans to begin culling badgers to prevent the spread of bovine TB. After doing some reading around I was surprised to find this was being proposed despite evidence showing it is highly unlikely to have any effect. It took only a few moments to check the twitter streams of others who I have found to be people well worth listening too. Ginny @ginbat and Si Jakes @Shyman33 amongst others were equally concerned about the cull, something I regard as a reckless action against uk wildlife and biodiversity.
I find myself wondering at the forces behind this cull and the politicians who support it. I can understand a farmer who has suffered from the loss of cattle because of bovine TB will be trying to do what they can to protect their business. But there are far wider implications, removing an animal from a local ecosystem is foolish, it should also be a priority to work with the natural balance of the lands. While the media pump out tale after tale of financial hardship it seems the lands and nature have become a poor second place to the economy. From my perspective the economy is similar in many ways to nature and indeed is linked to it. It cannot continually grow, it must find a balance. To try and force an economy or growth at the expense of nature and resource is a dangerous path indeed. The badger cull is certainly one of those actions I consider to be of this ilk.
If you have not done so already and are a UK resident, please consider signing the e-petition against the cull