I AM, I’m sure, not alone among landowners in reading your ‘Good week for badgers’ piece in your May 3 edition and feeling despair rather than elation.
Vaccination may seem like a reasonable alternative, but the logistical problem of catching and vaccinating all the badgers in an area must be overwhelming, not to say very expensive for the taxpayer.
The cull, restricted in area as proposed by the Government, would be more effective, less costly and much more protective of cattle, which is its intention. It would also reduce the cost, to the taxpayer, of the tenfold increase in compensation to farmers since the introduction of the Badger Act in 1992.
As a lifelong conservationist and academic biogeographer I was a member of the Warwickshire Nature Conservation Trust (WARNACT) in the days when we culled species which were becoming population depressants on others, such as grey squirrels, magpies and carrion crows. These conservation groups then became ‘wildlife trusts’ and the conservation element seemed to disappear and culling became ‘politically incorrect’.
There is no doubt that badgers, apart from the TB problem, have a very depressing effect on ground-dwelling and nesting species. On my land we now have very few partridges, pheasants, lapwings or hares and of songbirds there are now no skylarks, chiffchaffs, whitethroats or grasshopper warblers.
The nightly foraging of the vastly increased number of badgers is the reason: although that given by the wildlife trusts is always “modern farming practices”.
Surely it is time to return to real conservation principles and when protective legislation is enacted provision is made for control to be allowed when the species concerned begins to have damaging effects upon others.
David B Bragg,
Bilton Lane, Long Lawford.