Badgers, Bees , Disappearing Hedgehogs, and of Course Bovine TB …
Greg Lance – Watkins
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Badgers, Bees , Disappearing Hedgehogs, and of Course Bovine TB.
The jungle drums are busy and there is animal rights outrage in the air; the Government is about to double the size of the annual badger cull to 20,000 animals. Shrieks of horror there may be but seldom is it admitted that the badger population is already over one million (according to unpublished figures from within Defra) and growing. It is astonishing; when I first started writing about badgers and TB in 1981, the badger population was reckoned to be about 50,000.
So yes, the rocketing population has been caused by the badger and its sett both getting complete protection. It is ironic, the rabidly anti-hunt Labour MP, the late, urban, dapper, Tony Banks obtained protection for the badger’s sett, not to protect the badger, but to inconvenience fox hunters if a hunted fox disappeared down a badger hole.
So why is an animal that is as numerous as the badger given complete protection in Britain when several countries in the EU, such as Sweden allow a properly regulated season when badgers can be controlled and I write this as a badger-lover who has in the past kept badger cubs for a time after they had been lost in a field of barley. They were a complete delight. But the truth is that the badger is an Apex predator and its population explosion is causing untold damage to numerous other species of wildlife.
Although an assortment of populist “conservationists” on bunny-hugger television shed crocodile tears over the loss of the hedgehog – none will confirm that the primary cause is predation by badgers – see the book “Badger”, New Naturalist Series by Prof Timothy Roper and “The New Hedgehog Book” by Dr Pat Morris (Whittet Books). Badgers eat the whole hedgehog except for the spine covered skin, stripped completely of all flesh. Other favourites on the badger’s menu are bees nests and hives – honey and bumble, skylark eggs and young and of course hibernating dormice that settle down in the leaf-litter of hedgerows in the autumn – prime badger territory. Many ground-nesting birds are also hammered. A farming friend in Oxfordshire who manages to produce honey , but every year gets hives trashed by badgers, is part of a Breeding Wader Recovery Project. Out of four curlew nests on his farm this year every single one was predated. Three were taken at the egg stage by badgers. The RSPB put an electric fence around the fourth – the chicks were then taken almost certainly by a buzzard or a kite. And what does the RSPB say about the situation in public – precisely nothing. My farmer friend says:”Marvellous isn’t it. I can shoot foxes, crows and magpies to protect the curlews, but I can do nothing to protect them from badgers, buzzards and kites.
It is a serious, crazy situation – and this is without even going into the nightmare faced by many dairy farmers with badger spread bovine TB.
It is interesting to note that when The Times published Robin Page’s article on 25-Aug-2017 they opted to sensationalise it by altering the title seemingly as an animal rights wind-up choosing to misrepresent the article with the title “Badgers are vicious predators and need to be culled”.
That a failure to act responsibly and cull, not only the badger but foxes and raptors as their numbers burgeon and move out of control we see large areas of our countryside denuded of other species that are now too heavily predated. skylarks, curlew, ploverts, hedgehogs, dormice, teal, moorhens, coots are paying the price of the idiotic policies dreamed up by ill informed theorists.
Strangely there is no outcry when city dwellers opt to massacre rats, mice and cockroaches – the pests and vermin from which they suffer – all too often when it is they who take an irrational & ill informed stance on rural problems.
It is good to see so well informed and dedicated a voice as Robin Page speaking out with common sense – it is this very common sense approach that provides Robin Page with a following that has sustained his articles in the media, his 30 or so books and his sterling achievements with CRT Barton CLICK HERE his consistent exposure of common sense relative to the countryside and its residents in his blog CLICK HERE and daily on his Twitter timeline at CLICK HERE
It was the clarity of the common sense presented by Robin Page and for that matter David Belamy that has led to their falling foul of the corrupt, the self serving and the idiots of the Politically Correct brigade and why we no longer see their ilk on the biased propaganda pap to be found on the BBC – where questionable science is all too often put forward as fact without the worthy challenge of actual experts in the countryside such as Robin & David.
It is because of Robin Page’s practical & workable common sense you will note that I have followed his work for about 50 years and have included his blog on my main website at: http://www.infowebsite.uk/gregs-websites/
HERE ARE SOME OF THE COMMENTS FROM Robin Page’s Blog, that can be found @
12 thoughts on “Badgers, Bees , Disappearing Hedgehogs, and of Course Bovine TB.”
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Wow, can no one see the irony of the farming community demonising Badgers as detrimental to some of our rarer species? I dont dispute that Badgers have an eclectic diet and will predate the species mentioned but their impact on a thriving species would be negligible. The real issue is the cause of the rarity of these species in the first place which, sad to say in most cases, is the change of farming practices over more recent decades.
If human activity hadn’t put such pressure on numbers of Skylarks, Bees and Doremice etc. then we would barely notice the effect of predation on their population. Apex predators tend not to be in the habbit of exploiting resources to unsustainable levels, this sort of behaviour tends to be the preserve of human beings.
not being of the farming community merely a countryside dweller and interested in wildlife for some 60+ years I agree of much you say but unlike you I welcome the efforts of the likes of Countryside Restoration Trust, its trustees and the media personal;ities like Robin Page & David Belamy who have so consistently written, published and broadcast sound common sense on countryside matters and conservation beyond the clap trap of politically correct self serving theorists.
That Robin Page has been a consistent voice of reason is hard to refute and he has not fallen for the PC claims of all countryside problems are caused by farmers – when clearly the issues are far more complex and in many instances founded in political interests. There is little or no doubt that compliance with the EU aims regarding farming are massively damaging to both food generation, prices and wildlife with the insistance in subsidising the ‘parie farmers’ and conglomerates whilst steadily withdrawing support from crofters and small holders.
It is worthy of note that absolutely no politician has been elected in the last 50 years without promising to change the CAP yet if you check the record you will find that Britain has not managed to change one single phrase in the CAP legislation let alone a substantive issue of policy and increasingly we bankrupt our farmers in favour of foreign consortiums. Similarly the crass damage to Britain’s fishing industry and our fish stocks.
I believe you will find that the increase from 50,000 badgers in 1981 to around 1 MILLION now has had a far greater influence on ground nesting birds, hedgehogs and dormice right across Britain than you seem willing to concede. As has the thoughtless over protection and thus over population of of raptors. Perhaps you would care to justify the failure to control boar numbers and the damage being done to large areas by them.
In your conviction that it is in fact farmers who have led to the demise of some species perhaps you can explain how other species have burgeoned on the land of these self same farmers!
Not being a member of the farming community I for one can clearly follow the common sense approach and comments of the likes of Robin Page and fail to swallow the propaganda of the PC brigade with their myths of anthropogenic cause of climate change and the warmists determination to blame mankind for global warming when plate techtonics, solar wind and solar output so clearly have so much greater effect and drive the climate cycles and changes as they have for Millions of years; long prior to mankind’s emergence from Africa and spread across many areas of the planet.
I do fear the day when common sense fails in the field of conservation, replaced by political ambitions and large agri economics. The voice of reason must be heard if mankind is to avoid being managed like an ant colony and controlled like ‘Logan’s Run’ or ‘Soilent Green’! As it is we face the prescience of Juliet Stevenson’s 1991 movie ‘The March’.
I welcome the efforts of Robin Page and his fellow travellers.
I have just returned from a depressing visit to my friends, who farm next door to me, who have lived on the family farm all their lives – today at 69 they have just had yet another cow, from their home bred herd, test positive with TB.
They are uncertain whether it is being spread by the local badger population that has burgeoned in recent years or the wild boar that maraud around this area in uncontrolled numbers, or the deer – though the most probable source is the uncontrolled numbers of boar or the protected over population of badgers!
The slaughter of cattle, the cost to agriculture & the taxpayers is an obscene waste, due to the utter incompetence & failure of those responsible for the health of livestock who are ostensibly acting in the pretence of conservation of our countryside and the health of our national herd!
In that the laws are skewed to protect the spiralling out of control numbers of animals that damage our agricultural interests one has to wonder if there is some bigger scam afoot; a scam designed to damage the British livestock industry, to suit the opportunity to provide a market for the struggling economies of such countries as Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary in the EU; to try to balance the EU budget to Britain’s disadvantage.
This leads one to wonder whether there is truth in the belief of many that the release of Foot & Mouth disease a few years back was a result of a contrived and convenient theft of Pan Asian Type O from the Pirbright Lab, and its deliberate release on Bobby Waugh’s farm to suit the needs of the EU. A release that ensured the widespread outbreak in the Febuary to coincide with the purchase of burn timber in the previous November and the ordering of printing and white suits from the October onwards!
Not to mention the increased controls at the Australian Olympics the previous summer to prevent F&M virus being airosolled at the closing ceremony to produce a global pandemic by so called ‘animal rights’ to promote the lucrative promotion of vegetarian interests worldwide!
This would explain why the NFU did so little to support farmers at that time, whilst accepting huge subsidies that funded their HQ and their participation in EU issues!
There would seem to be more to these issues than meet the eye!
Just why are the numbers of badgers, raptors and boar being allowed to spiral out of control when it is clearly damaging to not just our countryside and the balance of wildlife but also to our agrarian industry?
I doubt it will be permitted for Robin Page and conservationists who have shown over many years their common sense approach to investigate and expose these issues in the largely urban based and politically correct media where ill informed ‘bunny huggers’ dishonest greens, corrupt and criminal ‘animal rights’ exploiters and millionaire musicians views are permitted to hold sway with little known so called celebrities using the platform not for the benefit of either our countryside or our country but for their own vain glorious publicity!
Thank you Robin Page for the efforts that you do make to broadcast common sense and balanced conservationist interests.
I fully support the remarks made in todays skylark warrior blog.
The rapid increase in badger population is causing serious damage to a range of wildlife . Sadly there are those who would
deny this fact. in addition there is the issue of the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
Badgers in this Country are regarded in the same way as cattle in some parts of India. They have a “holy ‘ status. For this we can thank the BBC and certain conservation groups.
We should follow the example of Sweden and other European Countries and remove Badgers from the protected list.
Old. Bill >
I fully support the remarks made in todays skylark warriors blog. The actual problem is that there are too many badgers for wildlife & livestock >
Not to mention the ‘rogue’ badger that Autumn watch filmed swimming across to an island on RSPB Minsmere & eating all the Avocet & plover eggs.
good to see you are being published in The Times, all be it behind their paywall precluding many from reading your article.
It is particularly good to see someone beyond the incestuous Westminster/BBC bubble being published, particularly when they have a long and consistent track record of common sense rather than strident Politically Correct clap trap to impart.
The parasitic community of NGOs that seek to impose their will concerning conservation and the countryside sit in their urban based ivory towers, with their degrees in theoretical opinion and have little or no understanding of the fact that Britain’s countryside ‘this green and pleasant land’ has come about as a result not of planners and medlars but the management, planting, culling and control of generations of farmers, landowners and countrymen NOT ‘bunny huggers’ who happily slaughter rats in their homes and gardens but overlook the need to control numbers of other animals and birds that because of the growth in their numbers have moved from being an assett to vermin predating other species.
You will have noted that almost all protected species are carnivores many are apex carnivores! Few are herbivores though there are a few omnivores that have been adopted by the so called ‘animal rights’ army of the irresponsible such as wild boar, that decimate swathes of the countryside uprooting and eating the bulbs and roots of wild flowers and erroding banks and waterways; not to mention flattening acres of crops.
Let us hope to see you and your fellow travellers back on the BBC once that biased and self serving propaganda network is wrested from subsidy by taxes and control by the ill informed politically correct. I regret that we may have to wait until our democracy is repatriated from the control of the bureaucrats of Brussels!
Well said Robin a very realistic appraisal of the situation we face. I am afraid we need to add otters under this headline too. Another wonderful creature who has had the run of the countryside to the detriment of many other species.
Thank you for your sensible article. True county folk are behind you but sadly we are becoming the rarity in this urban led country.
More sound words from Robin who will never cease to provide an accurate summary about the problems facing we hands on managers of Britain’s wonderful countryside. To save and allow our other species to prosper it is high time for Brock to be removed from the ‘protected’ list, and allow us to return to the time when we were delighted and privileged to view a badger and her cubs in the evening light.
“… it is high time for Brock to be removed from the ‘protected’ list, and allow us to return to the time when we were delighted and privileged” … to have badger-diggers violently extract badgers from their setts and throw them to fighting dogs without fear of prosecution? And while I cannot doubt that Charlie Fox (comment below) genuinely lost control of his JRT for a few moments, that is precisely the excuse the badger-diggers use and that is why the setts are protected.
A pity badgers are so darn pretty, and seem so harmless as they bumble attractively along the hedgerows. If they looked more like rats I doubt there would be any bunny huggers rushing to “save” the badger from cruel and greedy farmers – ahem. However, one badger nearly split one of our JRTs’ head in two when he dashed down a badger sett before we could stop him (terriers will do that!) Not nearly so attractive. Nice to see you frequenting the pages of the Telegraph again!