Badger issue that conservationists do not want to face

Date: Tuesday 5th September 2017

Sir, I am not sure your recent correspondents on the subject of TB are aware there has been an outbreak on the Isle of Skye where there have been no cattle imports for six years and presumably no import of badgers.

Investigation of this outbreak may shed further light on the spread of what is a very serious disease to human health, and raise new issues about its control.

The devastation it caused before the introduction of antibiotics seems to be forgotten, and with increasing antibiotic resistance perhaps there ought to be more urgency in getting rid of it from cattle and wildlife.

Allowing a reservoir of infection to roam the countryside, unhindered, verges on negligence. Identification of infected setts can be done by the use of internationally validated polymerase chain reactors which are nearly 100 per cent. accurate.

The dormant badgers, which would suffer anyway from the disease, could be fatally anaesthetised by carbon dioxide from dry ice. This gas is already used on poultry and pigs.

There is an implied accusation in the letters from Mr. Dumont and Mr Shearer that all farmers want rid of badgers and wildlife. We were happy to have badgers on our land for more than 50 years, and I have saved both a buzzard and a baby badger in the past.

However, when I applied to take hedgehogs which were removed from a Scottish Island many years ago I was refused permission because, it was said, the badgers would eat them.

In view of the decline of this species and the huge increase in badgers, there is an issue for conservationists which they do not seem to want to face.

I am happy to add some anecdotal evidence otherwise known as experience. Sadly, I have had a powerful creature chew and tear its way into a hen hut and the resulting sight of dead and suffering hens was hugely distressing. I have a photograph of the jaw marks on the hen hut and they were not done by a fox. As we do not have bears in Britain the culprit could only be a badger.

Given this, I can only assume ground-nesting birds and eggs are also taken and the theory that a six stone badger which eats hedgehogs would turn down a good meal for worms and insects is sadly wishful thinking. Yours etc,