Political playground

If you’re sitting inside and looking out, what might be there? From one to another it’ll vary. From a little patch nestled in suburbia to a vast open space where the perimeters of your fence don’t cut off the nature around. Wherever though, perhaps you have flowers in bloom being enjoyed by the last odd butterfly, a fruit tree with fruits either ready to go or almost there or maybe hawthorns beginning to fruit so they’re ready in time to provide for those species in search of food on a crispy autumn morning.

Today marks the first day of autumn and I’m delighted. My favourite season, I love it. Next week I’m back to Spurn for some early bird migration action then over the next few weeks, into October, I’m looking forward to seeing the changes on my local patch. Not just the changes in what birds I may see but the behaviour of them and mammals too. Including badgers. At the moment they’re out most of the night away from the sett in search of food, and so they’re prepared for the colder weather when they’ll spend a lot less time above ground and a lot more time below ground in efforts to keep warm. Over recent years I’ve found I always seem to get some interesting footage at this time of the year too as they spend more time closer to the sett.

Those badgers are in safe hands. Well, on safe land. I don’t mean that because I watch them and keep an eye out for them (this does help if they were to be targeted by wildlife criminals) but this land isn’t within any of those ten perimeters where the ineffective slaughter in a bid to control Bovine TB has begun.  So far over the 2013, 2014 and 2015 culls, over 1,600 animals have been killed in Gloucestershire, over 1,500 in Somerset and over 700 in Dorset, which makes a total of almost 4,000. 4,000 too many animals killed yet they continue despite everything. Despite the science, despite the cruelty of the killing and free shooting, and despite the cost which in total sums up to well over £7,000 to shoot one animal. Of tax payers money that is.

‘The science’ is a term thrown around quite a bit by those in opposition, that’s because there’s a lot of core evidence which suggests many different things. Many of the readers to my blog who have followed it from the start will know about my love for badgers due to my multiple posts about them, hours of trail camera footage I’ve shared and much more but this isn’t the only reason why I campaign against the cull. I also do it to oppose our bigoted government whom are letting this ridiculous and injustice torture to take place in the British countryside. A place of retreat and happiness turned into a political playground.

If you condense it down and look at the basics, that includes taking away the ‘cute factor’, it’s a disgrace. Going back, look at the science. The hard science because what’s more reliable? The most recent significant results of a study found Bovine TB isn’t passed on through direct contact between cows and badgers. During their field study, badgers and cattle didn’t come into contact with each other. It is evident most TB is contracted by cattle to cattle contact. The research did find that it could be contracted through contaminated pasture and dung too. This links back to farming practices though, if slurry a farmer spreads over their field includes infected dung then the bacteria is all over another field.

The study, led by Professor Rosie Woodroffe at the Zoological Society London, also found that even when culling cattle and badgers the bacteria can remain on the field for months. Therefore slaughter isn’t the answer, the issue needs to be addressed efficiently. Many have suggested the answer is for DEFRA to take money out of the ineffective cull and put it into educating farmers and improving bio-security on farms. As Wales have done. Bovine TB in Welsh herds is down 14 per cent over the past 12 months, with 94 per cent now TB free and guess what? No badgers have been killed.

Why are more badgers being killed this year then? DEFRA have tripled the number of licenses issued compared to last year. There is a great amount of opposition yet to give the farmers something in efforts to eradicate TB they take us back to what always seems to be the answer within our countryside, kill it. DEFRA, Andrea Leadsom, and the majority of farmers represented by the NFU (and maybe a few more) are obviously content that their ‘strategy’ (AKA slaughter) is and will deliver results. Yet not one animal that has been culled has been tested for TB since the culls began in 2012.

The role out for this year is massive. To reach minimum targets, marksmen are going to have to kill 10,000 badgers between now and the end of November. No one has given any justification for this, yet it’s already taking place. We’re being ripped off and they won’t listen to a word we say. That doesn’t mean we may as well give up because we have to make them listen. They’re not stupid, they know it isn’t going to give them any results, even if they were to wipe out every badger in  England. Why are they robbing us then?

We’ve got the facts though and therefore we’re right. It must end and we’ll win. Please do what you can; whether that’s signing the petition recently set up, support campaigns from the Badger Trust, donate to their cause, take a look at what your local badger group is doing, write to your local MP or anything, it’s worth it.



Badgers – species not game pieces

I go back to school next week, well my first day at sixth form. Young people and children all over the country will be going back either this week or next. I wonder what the majority of them got up to during their summer term? I wonder how many got outside more then once and interacted with nature? I bet it wasn’t many, in fact I bet it’s a scary figure.

Seeing as many would not even gone out in the countryside or considered that, they won’t be aware of the horrors that are about to begin. Another bid to vandalise the British countryside to please some senseless humans.

I’ve had a busy summer holiday but I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Obviously all wildlife related! If I wasn’t out and about travelling around to different events or writing for some reason or another I was out on my local patch or going to watch and film one of my favourite animals, the badger.

They are a superb creature and I have a great interest in them. I think when I first started setting my trail camera up a few years ago at a local sett, was when my love for them grew. I got some brilliant footage of them rolling around, playing with each other, eating and some unusual stuff too. This was amazing and got me very excited. It still does now when I set my camera up or spend some hours around the sett.

A few years back I also started to learn more about the problems that some have with this animal. Whether it’s to do with btb or because some have no respect whatsoever for them. After them having such a positive impact on me, I wanted to give that back how and when I could. This included writing about them here on my blog, getting involved with the Badger Trust, going on demonstrations and much more. As this has grown more, I plan to go out later this month to the cull zones and volunteer there.

It’s difficult to do more though as I’m still at school. I remember just a few months back when I didn’t quite have my priorities straight, I’d be down to the nearby badger sett to watch them rather then revise. I think it did me good though!

Thinking and writing about when I go and watch or film them brings me joy. It makes me realise that there is hope fighting for an animal that deserves to be here much more then any one of us.

I’ve felt pretty hopeless and down over the last week after the news, even though it was predictable. I think that’s the reason why it’s taken me almost a week to write this blog post, I just haven’t known what to write. But I wanted to write something. Even though the animals that I watch here in Staffordshire aren’t in cull zones, they’re just like those that are. They’re still the same species. Sadly though, they’re still targeted by persecution and man’s evil eye to entertain. A couple of years back there had been disruption at the sett I visit the most but fortunately all looks fine at the moment.

Even with my love for the countryside and badgers, it doesn’t make me naive and stupid. I’m fully aware that there is a problem with btb in cattle and that something needs to be done.

What makes this issue worse for everyone though is the fact that it’s this badger blame game. Wrong on every ground and it’s extremely corrupt, I really can’t understand what their game is. Well I can, we’ve got a Tory government and too many people who either don’t give a dam about what goes on in the countryside or have no idea and aren’t aware. Along with this, those that are the most ‘connected’ and have the most ‘power’ are those who are greedy. Another aspect is DEFRA (etc) have got to be seen to be doing something about btb, and badgers are the easy way out.

It’s like picking on the vulnerable or the poor, the badgers obviously have no voice. However they do have a lot friends and supporters from a whole range of backgrounds! Ones who will stop at nothing to protect them and give the badgers the justice they deserve, wanting to let them live in peace!

At the moment, seeing as the cull is going ahead in West Gloucestshire, Somerset and now Dorset, all energy is being aimed at getting out in and around the cull zones. This includes sett sitting, patrolling, sabbing, help at the camps and much more. These are the people that are saving lives now and they desperately need as much help as possible so if you can help in any way then please do.

You can find out more and get hold of contact details by clicking here.

I’d also like to give a plug for National Badger Day which is on the 6th of October.

Three reasons for dummies why the badger cull won’t work.

There are many different reasons why culling the badgers by shooting them or gassing them won’t control or stop the spread of bTB (Bovine Tuberculosis) in cattle. As a young wildlife enthusiast I thought I’d do a blog post explaining three different reasons why, in my opninion, culling badgers won’t work. I want the cull to be taken no further and badgers to stop being killed for no reason. I know there is a problem with bTB in cattle but killing badgers is far from stopping this. In my opinion, shared by many others and supported by scientific evidence, vaccinating badgers will work much better and be much better for badgers as a species. Very often I hear people saying that we are against the cull because it’s killing animals; the culls the only answer; it will help other species and many other reasons which are not correct. The people making these points obviously have no knowledge of the cull, badgers or the natural world whatsoever. Here is a list of some of the main reasons into why the cull won’t work

  1. The first and main reason why the cull will not work is because of something called the ‘perturbation effect’. Badgers live in social groups of around four to seven animals and have defined territorial boundaries. Culling the badgers will interrupt these social groups which increases the risk of disease.

“Culling disrupts the organisation of these social groups, increasing the risks of disease transmission”

Here is a diagram illustration how the perturbation effect doesn’t work and only makes the spread of bTB worse.


2. The contact between cattle and badgers is actually very rare and the problem of bTB spreading isn’t just from badger to cattle but an infected cow passing it on to another. Cattle are more likely to get the disease then pass it onto other cattle. According to computer modeling studies, herd-to-herd transmission of bovine TB in cattle accounts for 94% of cases. Also scientific evidence from the randomized badger culling trials found around 6% of infected cattle catch TB directly from badgers.

3. Badgers aren’t the only species that carry the disease, here is a list of others:

Deer = 36% positive (including farmed, wild and park deer)

Cat = 25% positive

Dog = 27% positive

Pig = 19% positive

Alpaca = 56% positive

Sheep = 44% positive

Therefore to control it by culling animals we wouldn’t just have to kill badgers, but other UK species. However, we don’t know what individuals within a species carry the disease and we could be culling any animal which doesn’t carry bovine TB.

To help our badgers in the UK there are many different ways, for example you can donate money into the vaccination programs, support the different charities opposing the cull, sign petitions against it and much more!