I can really associate with the Badger. What an ideal life, staying underground avoiding people and noise in the day time only surfacing at night to eat, play, go to the toilet and scratch their tummies, bliss! They lead a very private life keeping themselves to themselves, yet they are probably the most sought after and persecuted mammal in the UK today. Even the government pay shooters to kill them in the name of saving cattle from a disease spread mainly by the cattle themselves, Bovine TB.
Since 2013 Natural England has granted licences to cull badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset with the introduction of Dorset in the year 2015. So far 3,943 badgers have been killed in the Government led cull costing around £22 million pounds. There has been no testing of badgers and the majority of badgers culled may well have been healthy. According to the RSPCA website as many as six out of seven badgers killed in the cull could be BTB free. A different approach was adopted in Wales and instead they have been vaccinating badgers. By combining this method with strict cattle control measures the amount of animals slaughtered due to BTB has been reduced by 48%. Unfortunately, this year many vaccination programmes will be suspended due to a shortage of vaccine. This also puts a stop to any vaccination schemes taking place in Governments nominated edge areas.
In 2014 an independent expert panel looked at the results of the badger cull pilots that had taken place in Somerset and Gloucestershire. They concluded that free shooting of badgers was inhumane with many badgers taking longer than 5 minutes to die. The British Vets association have now withdrawn their support for this method of killing badgers.
On visiting the cull zones over the last three years my eyes have been opened to the serious issue of wildlife crime and the persecution of badgers. Many setts I discovered were full of wire, blocked or covered over by huge hay bales. It is as if the badger cull has given a green light to wildlife criminals to just do what they like.
In 2016 the government is aiming to roll out the badger cull to new counties despite the evidence stacking up that it is not working, but you can help to be their voice.
You can take action by writing to your MP and explaining why you think the badger cull is wrong. Keep an eye on your local setts, report any wildlife crime issues to the police and join your local badger group. One way of locating your nearest group is by looking at the Badger trust website www.badger.org.uk
I belong to Oxford Badger group and at the moment we are dealing with many issues regarding building and development where badgers are being pushed out to create room for homes, businesses and even car parks. Many badgers are killed on the roads and groups such as ours will go out and check these badgers, sadly we recently were called out to a rare Erythristic badger (brown and white with a pink nose) which had been hit by a car. oxfordshirebadgergroup.org
This year the Badger Trust have decided to run a National Badger week from the 25th June to the 2nd July. This will be an opportunity to celebrate our wonderful badger and also to educate and highlight the many problems it encounters. Many badger groups will take part by holding events around the country, so keep an eye out for events happening in your local area.
You can follow us on Twitter (@nbadgerday ) and also on Facebook too. I would love to hear from you if you wish to organise an event, write or fundraise.
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This is written by Emily Lawrence in an individual capacity and not by the groups that have been mentioned within the blog