A new report has found that badger culls are unlikely to be a cost- effective way of controlling bovine tuberculosis in cattle, with any the benefits “disappearing” after four years. BBC
A letter has been published in the Guardian from Hilary Benn, the Secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, outlining the government’s strategy for combating bovine TB. Rather than badgers being culled, which evidence suggests would not control the spread of TB in cattle, they will be vaccinated:
We are . . . trying an alternative approach to the problem, by investing £20m over three years to develop badger and cattle vaccines. We will start vaccinating badgers in six areas of England, working with farmers, later this year. We are also taking steps to try to reduce the incidence and spread of bovine TB, working with the industry and vets through the Bovine TB Eradication Group, and I have accepted all the recommendations of its first report. This includes providing better support to affected farmers.
The controversial cull of badgers in Wales has been given the final go-ahead by the Welsh Assembly, in an attempt to combat bovine TB infections. Meanwhile, the Badger Trust is seeking legal action over the move. The cull is to take place primarily in Pembrokeshire. BBC
This five-day-old badger cub was on the brink of death after being left abandoned in the snow somewhere in Devon. More ridiculously cute photos and the story here
From the excellent badgerland.co.uk:
Badgers have unusual breeding patterns since mating can take place at any time of the year. After mating, badgers exhibit what is known as delayed implantation. They keep the fertilised eggs, in the womb in a state of suspended development until they implant at the end of December. Cubs are usually born during the first fortnight in February in the south and west, but sometimes a little later as you go further north in the UK.
So this cub was born rather early in the year. I wonder if the mother was moving her cubs to a warmer sett and this one got dropped, or did it just remove it from the sett because it couldn’t feed it. Please drop me a mail if you can enlighten me on this.
A sharp drop in the number of hedgehogs in Britain is being blamed on the booming badger population developing a liking for them. The decline is also explained by the fact that both animals compete for the same foods. Researchers have found a strong link between areas where badgers are doing well and declines in hedgehogs. Numbers are falling especially in the south and south west of England, and in urban areas. Another factor may be that the loss of hedgerows and the spread of intensive farming has reduced cover, so making hedgehogs easier to catch for badgers. More
The remarkable BBC documentary Secrets of the Sett filmed badgers making their beds before venturing out for a night’s foraging. Indeed, one of the signs of an inhabited sett is old straw left at the entrance by house-proud badgers. Cornish wildlife artist Dick Twinney has captured this aspect of badger behaviour in an engaging painting, included in the 2100 calendar he’s put together. Take a look at his keenly observed and vividly textured images in the Living Countryside calendar available in a limited number of 500 signed editions.
The attitude of farmers to a £7m badger TB vaccination trial will be crucial in determining its success. Scientists claim injectable badger vaccines are safe and effective, though the nationwide cost is estimated at more than £80m per year. BBC
This BBC documentary is entitled The Man Who Eats Badgers and Other Strange Tales from Bodmin Moor about Arthur Boyt, a retired civil servant, who collects and eats roadkill. Mr Boyt’s freezer is brimming with badgers, barn owls, dogs, cats, otters and foxes. But this is much more than a tale about strange eating habits. It is a portrayal of a small, isolated community on a bleak Cornish moor told through superbly shot filming and an intelligent script full of pathos.
Continue reading Eating badgers
Badgers are possibly the most loved wild animals in Britain and it is unsurprising that there are a number of poems about them. I’ve collected a couple 19th century poems here. The first is by Edward Thomas, who was killed in the Battle of Arras in 1917. The badger, “that most ancient Briton of English beasts” is gone from the sett, killed by baiters. The second poem is by John Clare (1793-1864) who was famous for Continue reading Poems about badgers
Brooks World has this excellent series of tips on watching badgers in the wild. First and foremost remember that badgers are usually frightened of people. If the badgers know you are there, you probably won’t see much of them. The good news is that a badger’s eyesight pretty awful.
Read tips on Brooks World
The Aigas Field Centre in Scotland offer you the chance watch wild Pine Martens and Badgers from their own specially-built hide. It was originally built to watch Badgers, which still visit the feeding station every night, but the Martens also took a liking to the spot, and are a regular visitor.The people who run it say “We encourage the mammals to visit by putting out a small amount of peanuts and a tablespoon of jam. The food is merely to entice them in – by no means do we sustain them or interfere with their territoriality.” They claim that the success rate for seeing Pine Martens during each 2 hour hide visit is a remarkable 95%, all through the year. They also promise prolonged views of feeding and playing Martens at distance of between 6 and 30 feet. The field centre looks a great place to stay offering “Wildlife, Birdwatching, History & Nature Holidays in the Highlands of Scotland”. More on this soon.
Visit the Aigas Pine Marten and Badger hide
The first few days of the RSPB’s new wildlife survey this summer, Make Your Nature Count, has revealed some surprising results. 10% of participants so far have reported regular sightings of the badgers in their gardens, a higher figure than expected.
A plan to cull badgers in Pembrokeshire is criticised here by George Monbiot in The Guardian, claiming that it will not work and amounts to little more than a Welsh assembly effort to secure farmers’ votes.