THE "SADLY MALIGNED" ONE

 

"Well, at least the farmers and the vets haven't yet accused the badgers of being the cause of BSE" writes one of our suburban wildlife observers. "But give theme time." The badgers, according to her, are slowing up as they do when winter, deepens. Instead of live or six coming to the food left out each night, now only one or two turn up. Later, in the early hours there may be more, but on occasions, when the dawn arrives, there are still some pickings for the magpies and jack daws, and perhaps others.

So anyway, some creatures benefit from the nightly laying down of food.

James Fairley, the zoologist in Galway University wrote in An Irish Beast Book that badgers are "sadly maligned animals. Inexplicably many country people slander them without ever having seen one. ,The animal's supposed crimes can usually be laid at the fox's door, and are often the result of an overactive imagination. "Evidence for lamb killing, he tells us is practically non-existent, although they may consume ovine carrion on occasions, including dead lambs. And damage to gamebirds is probably small. This book was published in 1975. Since then the badger/bovine TB argument has erupted.

The publication An Broc from the Badgerwatch group published an interesting article by Joe Barry, a farmer, originally from The Badger, the publication of The Badger IWT. He says that he, like many other farmers, has a large and thriving badger set in the centre of his farm, and never had a serious outbreak of TB . . . the odd reactor, usually brought in, perhaps three in ten years . . . and the badgers have been there for centuries.

Much of the trouble, he says comes from the fact that calves are moved so many times from their birth to slaughter time. We are, he says, in this "unique in Europe". He asks could not a microchip be implanted as a means of identifying an animal for life? The bovine TB eradication scheme has been a scandal for nearly half a century. Our correspondent writes that in Holland, bovine TV has been reduced to 0.042%, and there are still badgers there.

What other animals get TB

Foxes, cats, does, goats, writes Mr Barry. Do we have to exterminate them?