Derek Mead: Massive task ahead to rid country of bovine tuberculosis scourge
Not surprisingly the badger-lovers can barely conceal their delight that the NFU's cull has been postponed.
But the reason for the delay should – if they have any true interest in the wellbeing of wildlife – make them stop and think very carefully about precisely where their obstructive policies have now led the country.
Given that the latest survey of the culling areas has now revealed badger populations at twice their previously believed levels, it is safe to extrapolate the figures and arrive at the probability that Britain has more than two million badgers running around.
And two million badgers, given that a large proportion of them will be carrying TB, is not a sustainable size of population by any stretch of the imagination.
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It certainly sweeps away entirely any argument that the badger is an endangered species. In fact, it was only afforded legal protection originally because of the appalling activities of badger-baiters, who in any event only represented an almost immeasurably small risk to badgers generally.
But what we can confidently predict, with that many badgers at large, is that we have a massive task ahead of us to rid the countryside of a reservoir of TB infection – a far bigger one than was previously thought.
Had farmers been allowed to tackle this situation years ago – when it was obvious to all of us that badger numbers were exploding, to the detriment of hedgehogs and ground-nesting birds – we wouldn't be facing the nightmare today.
As it is, those who have campaigned to save the badger have succeeded in creating a huge colony of animals which will have neither sufficient food nor dry living quarters this winter – circumstances which could have been ideally designed to speed the rate at which TB spreads through their ranks.
I'm sure those members of the public who put money in the boxes that the badger "charities" shove under their noses will be delighted to know that their hard-earned and punitively-taxed cash will not be helping badgers in any way, shape or form, merely condemning thousands of them to painful, lingering and miserable deaths this winter from the effects of TB. How well their money is being spent.
If that isn't irresponsible enough, the badger-huggers are refusing to engage in any kind of meaningful dialogue with those of us who believe there is an alternative to the half-baked cull the NFU hierarchy has come up with: a targeted operation relying on field craft to detect those setts most likely to be infected – and taking their occupants out quietly, quickly and humanely.
Those of us who have been advocating this approach have been doing so because we, at least, wish to see a healthy badger population. Clearly in opposing intervention of any kind to deal with the current threat, the RSPCA and its various hangers-on are creating quite the opposite.
Derek Mead is an entrepreneur dairy farmer from Weston-super-Mare