Badger spirit

Here in the UK the government are planning the mass killing of a resident mammal. The badger. Now, if someone was talking about killing a third of all African elephants, a third of the wild lions, lemurs or anything else that iconic, the whole world would be up in arms. We don’t have much in the way of big, majestic wildlife here in the UK. This is because we already killed off the wolves, bears and giant, hairy cows.

There can be a tendency in nature conservation to support the cute, the memorable and the iconic. Getting people to save tigers is always going to be easier than trying to interest them in some ugly bug.

Badgers are lovely. They are very communal, living in big, extended families. Nocturnal, they roam around at night, mostly rooting up earthworms. They eat most things though, they are slow moving, wide arsed opportunists and they adore peanuts. Seeing their cute, stripy faces appear out of the darkness is a joy. Watching them play and feed together is delightful. I’ll say it again: Badgers are lovely.

However, badgers suffer from tuberculosis, and are probably implicated in giving TB to cows. I‘m not convinced it’s just the badgers, I think a closer look at the frequency with which we move livestock about in the UK needs considering. But, badgers have long borne the brunt of the blame. For all of my life, farmers have been trying to get badgers killed. My grandmother used to go out to try and prevent the then popular solution of filling in most of the holes into the set, and gassing the trapped badgers.

If we were talking about a really careful, well organised system of putting to sleep those badgers who are suffering from TB, I could see the point. We aren’t. We’re talking shooting badgers wherever there is a lot of TB, on the assumption that this will help. If the science said that yes, a badger cull would be bound to reduce TB in cows, and overall reduce animal suffering, then that might be tolerable. The science says it probably won’t help, and there’s evidence it could make things worse. So that’s a lose for the badgers, the cows and the farmers. This is madness.

The solution is to vaccinate badgers. If we eradicate TB in the badger population, they can’t spread it, the cows are fine. There are vaccines available, there are test studies. It will take time and cost money, but the key thing is, it stands a fighting chance of working. It will work for the badgers, who get to carry on their badger business, neither being shot at, nor getting a horrible disease. If the badgers really are causing the problem, it will work for the cows, and if it doesn’t, it might get us closer to nailing the sources of the problem. Solving the problem is what the farmers need here. Actions that do not solve the problem, do not help the farming community. Gassing the badgers did not solve the TB problem when I was a child. Shooting them now will not solve it either.

Please help. Go to to see where you can get involved. Make noise. This shameful act should not go ignored and uncommented on. If we were talking about lions, there would be international outrage. I move that badgers are just as alive, just as lovely and just as important as any other, more iconic creature out there. Let’s not send a message to the world that government sponsored wildlife massacres are ok.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Badger spirit

  • bish

    Beautiful words. Thank you!

    I went to a Team Badger meeting in the Forest the other day, where a dairy farmer of over 35 years experience with not one case of bTB made a clear case for drinking trough water being a primary vector in spreading bTB. When the cows get put away at the end of summer, the water troughs stay out there, filled with pretty much the same old water. Over the autumn, winter, spring… the massive temperature swings cook the old cow snot, faeces and dribble that’s been exchanged there by every cow in the herd… creating a vast petri dish of bacteria and disease. Perhaps the water is changed, perhaps not, but most troughs are not cleaned and disinfected before the herd is let out onto the spring grass. I’m no farmer, I’m no vet, but he made a very clear case to me.

    May the gods bless those who put themselves in harms way to protect our most wonderful badgers.

  • Buzzard

    Thanks Nimue for the link, for action. I heard about this from a grove member about 5 years ago. I guess not enough action has been done after all that time because of the pilot cull now having the go ahead.
    This is another crime against nature and a demonstration of the human relentless will to stop at nothing until there is nothing.
    The future holds empty seas and where there was forests, deserts act now and save what we have left to save.
    Nature can heal given the chance and we forget at our peril that we are Nature.


  • naturalpantheist

    It’s absolutely disgusting that they are doing this. there is no scientific case. its just wrong!

  • Gwion

    By taking this action the government achieves several things.
    • The farmers will now have to bear much of the cost of killing the badgers, rather than Defra – (that is Defra bearing the cost not the government killing Defra; though it’s a thought).
    • The government can claim to be acting to reduce the spread of bTB whilst actually doing nothing.
    • The government can reduce compensation paid to farmers when their cattle test positive for bTB and are slaughtered, on the basis that the farmers, whose responsibility it now becomes to prevent the disease, haven’t done enough.

    None of this is about reducing bTB, it’s about saving the government money (understandable) and passing the buck. The badgers are victims in this deception but so too are the farmers. Defra needs to get its act together, roll out a vaccination programme and provide better advice and monitoring of animal hygiene and transport.

    Saw a badger when out last night – they’re not as slow as all that!!

  • Jeremy Howard

    Ok Obviously I need to say this again because the other post got deleted. I just wanted to say how disgusted I am about this place in downtown Lake City called House of Bargains which is a thrift store that sells various goods. There was a worker there named Thomas Rodriquez (Tim Rodriquez or Thomas Rodriguez he might also go by) stocking books that started telling me how his wife (Sarah Langley) had TB ( Tuberculosis ) and all and how he needed to get tested and is considering disability etc. I was so shocked to find out he worked without a mask and everything there. Just coughing on someone can cause them to contract tb but he did not care about that. We left the store as soon as we got that far into the conversation. I cant forget that either. How do stores like this let people with TB work in them knowing it can be spread so easily by a cough or a sneeze? FYI also Lake City is near Suwannee County and Live Oak and it is located in Columbia County Florida. So the question is do these north Florida areas have any concern about these things?

  • Nimue Brown

    Jeremy, no idea where your first comment went, I assume net gremlins ate it, I did not get it to approve, much less delete it, promise! As for your issue, I think the short answer is ignorance. People have forgotten TB, there is just not enough awareness out there any more. You’re totally right that even potential sufferers need checking out and isolating, the scope for new epidemics has been with us for a while and it may be just a matter of time.

  • Alex Jones

    The good news is the badger cull is suspended until Summer 2013. The present UK Government is hostile to the environment and to science across a range of policies.

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