A badger isn’t just for Christmas but…

snowbadgerCOLOURRalph Underhill and I have got together to bring you this set of three highly festive and wildlife-friendly Christmas cards.

xmasgasCOLOUR-1We thought that you might like to send them to the following people:

Peter Kendall

The National Farmers’ Union

Agriculture House
Stoneleigh Park


Owen Paterson, Secretary of State

George Eustice, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Farming

Dan Rogerson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs

Lord de Mauley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Science

Bronwyn Hill, Permanent Secretary

Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Advisor


Nobel House

17 Smith Square

London SW1 3JR


David Cameron

10 Downing Street

London SW1A 2AA


Packs of six cards (two of each of the three designs) can be purchased at a price of £12 inc postage.  Contact mark@markavery.info for details.

Profits – there won’t be many – from sales will go to The Badger Trust.



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31 Replies to “A badger isn’t just for Christmas but…”

    1. The adverts that appear on the right of my screen seem to reflect topics I have recently been searching on google... for example my wife's car is dying on its backside, hence the adverts seems to include a multitude of car finance offers etc. Boring I know, however this does beg the question, what sort of sites has 'M Parry' been recently searching for on google ? ....Wink, wink, nudge, nudge

      1. "what sort of sites has 'M Parry' been recently searching for on google ?"
        Or Amazon - who usually let me know about some desirable boots or a tyre pump after I have made a purchase.
        Google +1 and Google Analytics are trying to track you as you read this. In total there are 15 requests for information from this site. If you don't like this kind of surveillance use Firefox and install Do Not Track Me and Disconnect. All you'll see then are some blank yellow squares.

      2. I defence of M Parry. The Asian women advert may have originated, in a roundabout way, from the RSPB advert (which I can see even if all other readers of this blog can't). A few weeks ago, during the bad storms, i clicked on my local RSPB reserves blog. The blog was not there however several non-bird and non-rspb items came up, and among them was an Asian Woman advert. The RSPB said the wires had got crossed in the storm. Maybe M. Parry also looked at the rspb blog on that day and the tracking systems on his/her computer remembered it?

  1. Well it isn't funny if like the young farmer just started renting a farm with very limited capital bought 60 cows which had to be tested before coming from farms to him then in the first year losing 20% to BTB,where else could it have come from but Badgers.Farmers desperately need something doing whatever it is to solve this problem.
    Really cannot believe the flak farmers take without pointing out certain things.What a lot of whingers we have in some of the community considering they are
    A (very well fed with cheap food)
    B (What a massive difference there is between what farmers contribute to the U k economy compared to what conservationists contribute to U k economy).
    C (What is the point of whinging about paying taxes for U K farming subsidies when as I see it you are paying far more of your taxes which you say nothing about to farmers in the other EU countries who claim far more of the total subsidies like the following).
    France 17%
    Spain 13%
    Germany 12%
    Italy 10%
    Think the UK get 7%
    What do all these moaning people actually produce.
    Some bright spark once said that all the wealth in the world really comes from farming,fishing and mining and that is about the truth.

    1. Dennis - A - almost half 'my' food comes from abroad - why am I paying for it through the CAP?

      B - what's that then?

      C - those farmers abroad are mostly farming in ways that protect wildlife better than British farmers - at least according to the evidence of bird declines across Europe.

      But this is about badgers, and an unscientific approach by Defra, driven by the NFU, which won't solve the problem of bTB.

  2. Comment from Dennis Ames "where else could it have come from but Badgers" (referring to bTB). Well Dennis, it's not called Bovine TB for no reason. It comes from cows silly, and it is spread by poor husbandry on the farmers part. Badgers do carry bTB, but so do dogs, cats, deer, rats. Let's get this straight. The cattle infected the badgers. Not the other way round. "Farmers desperately need something doing whatever it is". Well I suggest that you stop killing badgers and start practicing proper biosecurity on your farms. That would be a start. Oh, and if you have a spare minute in and amongst your pathetic whining - look up what perturbation means on Google.

    1. Kate, does it really matter where it came from? I sense a horse and stable argument here. Let's just agree that if birds could catch it I don't think there would be such an issue with a cull. It makes clear sense to me that no matter how regimented we make farming in the UK, a residual pool of bTB in our wildlife would always be ready to haunt us. Vaccination, I hear you cry - absolutely, but remember, where it's needed most, in bTB hot spots (which are also high badger population areas), vaccinating a diseased animal has zero effect. It's also interesting that of the ten leading EU nations the UK has by far the highest bTB national herd reactor stats at 6.8%. Spain, our nearest league table neighbour, has 1.1% and the others have no bTB if one considers sub 1.0% as a mark of 'No bTB'. Strangely only the UK and Eire protects the badger. In all other EU countries they are either openly managed or under license. As you allude to, bTB isn't the sole disease of badgers and cattle, I wonder whether we'll all be throwing eggs should the cull be suspended if it migrates and become endemic if deer, cats and dogs say...I think the argument might change somewhat then.

    2. "It's called bovine TB for a reason. It comes from cows silly."

      I'm rather unconvinced by that argument. The way I see it is that BTB is an infectious disease and it's spread from animals that have the disease to animals that don;t because the animals that have the disease exude the germs that cause it.

      It's actually a highly zoonotic (is that the right word) condition.

      I suspect that it was given the name Bovine TB because the way the disease first came to our attention was that it was found in our cattle herds. If we farmed badgers in a similar way and had wild cattle wandering round it presumably would be called Meline TB.

      Disease epidemiology is a complex subject and I'd question the science behind drawing conclusions about either a disease's origin or direction of spread from it's name.

      In fact I'd go so far as to say to do that is rather silly.

      For example would we infer from the name 'Spanish flue' that that disease originated in Spain or indeed that it was generally spread from people of a Latin origin to other races/ethnic groups? Surely such an approach would be mistaken and dare I say it somewhat unscientific.

      Moreover to say "The cattle infected the badgers. Not the other way round. " may or may not be true WRT BTB in the UK however it is perhaps slightly beside the point. Any solutions should surely not be directed at where the disease may or may not have first originated but where it currently is.

      For example there is I beleive a theory that HIV/AIDS originated in African monkeys. Going after them as some kind of punishment would seem to me not to be an effective way of combating the spread of AIDS - we should rather try and treat those with it and take and encourage actions which prevent and reduce its spread.

    3. "it's not called Bovine TB for no reason."

      Surprisingly enough, infectious bacterium don't really take much notice of semantics, but thanks for pointing that one out to us.

  3. Kate,it is completely irrelevant that it may have come from cows first.
    I have waited for years for someone to explain how it is spread by farmers poor husbandry and must point out I have never killed a Badger as you suggest,rather the reverse have looked after them in cases when they needed it.
    Have also waited years for someone to explain how biosecurity on farms can be improved to improve matters.
    Unless you can provide those answers then I will think you are unable to back up your remarks.
    I have spent 45 years with cattle and Badgers on the same land so think I do know something about these two problems that I hope you answer.
    Rather than look up a long word like that if I looked back to when we had a sensible culling policy I would find that for culling a small number of Badgers we needed to cull less than 10% of the cattle we are having to cull now.

    Mark,I never understand why the conservationists who constantly give farmers flak never seem to help solve the problem by buying a field and showing farmers what they can achieve.It is not rocket science you just save a bit of money and buy a field,it is really simple.After all there are lots of relatively well off. conservationists

  4. Kate, Dennis is only pointing out that there are two sides to this Btb tragedy. To often it's only seen from the conservation side but there is a massive human cost to a community which frankly deserves better. It's unfair and I might say grossly impolite to accuse Dennis of being "pathetic" when he seems to be showing some concern for the human element in this.

    BTB is transmitted both ways and if you fully understood the perpetuation argument this would of course be self evident.

    Personally I feel immensely sorry for livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, who not only have to deal with this crippling disease but also have to suffer a triad of scorn and disapproval for both a policy and problem well outside their control.

    Dennis you are right, the postcards are deeply unfunny.

    1. Well said that man.

      305,000 – approximate number of cattle slaughtered for TB control in GB in decade to 2012. £500 million – the amount it has cost the taxpayer to control the disease in England in the last 10 years. £1 billion – estimated cost of TB control in England over the next decade without taking further action. £34,000 – the average cost of a TB breakdown on a farm, of which around £12,000 falls to the farmer. The costs don't include any accounting for the carbon emissions for this waste of production and its disposal, and the indirect emissions of the food used to replace its loss.

      All this while a succession of feeble ministers blocked roads with their caravans, played politics, ate a lot of lettuce and sat firmly on their thumbs, terrified of their own shadows.

      Can we have a cartoon of a month's worth of dead cattle for the Solstice?

  5. Filbert,you always put things better than I can.
    What is never explained to those that are not affected by it is the fact that farmers cannot sell any cattle except for slaughter until clear of BTB which may be a long time and this is just as bad as losing a percentage of the herd.
    We have loads of people suddenly expert on BTB who have hardly any experience of Badgers and certainly no experience of cattle.
    It is next to being impossible to keep cattle and Badgers apart they both feed in fields.
    Very difficult to see how farmers can do any more as cattle except for slaughter have to be tested before going to another farm.
    It is so easy for someone to say improve biosecurity and it is poor husbandry on farmers part but the explanations I have asked lots of people for have never been forthcoming.
    That says everything.

  6. "the young farmer just started renting a farm with very limited capital bought 60 cows which had to be tested before coming from farms to him then in the first year losing 20% to BTB,where else could it have come from but Badgers"

    One possibility: the cows already had bTB. Its well known that the test is not 100% reliable. Then there is the ear tag swapping, possible transference at cattle markets where 'strict biosecurity' is not what it should be.....

  7. Sing!
    'On the Twelfth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me! ...
    12 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers drumming
    11 Spoon-billed Sandpipers piping
    10 Natterjacks a leaping
    9 Hen Harriers Sky dancing
    8 (TB Free) Cows a milking
    7 lead-free Mute Swans a swimming
    6 White Fronted Geese a laying (out of season but who cares, they're laying)

    5 Golden Ringed Dragonflies! ...(again, out of season, doesn't fit but, it's My version so who cares - they're rather nice ) ....

    4 calling Black birds
    3 Free Range Hens
    2 virtually non existent & almost extinct Turtle Doves

    And a Patterson hiding up a Pear tree ... surrounded by Badgers.

  8. Neil,have you tried swapping ear tags,that went out with the dinosaurs if a tag is lost in any way then you have to send for a replacement with the same number.This tag swapping is a red herring put out by our detractors which is disgusting.
    Cattle market biosecurity has to be very good.
    Some people question the test but it has worked very well for a long period of time.
    Of course what you suggest about the markets is probably irrelevant in practice those cows probably came from one farm to another and in that case would not have been able to be moved unless the selling farm was completely free of BTB.
    In fact if as you suggest it was not Badgers then other wildlife comes under suspicion.
    Things are getting worse and worse unless we make a big effort to clear this disease up then it seems likely it will get in all wildlife and pets.
    Lets make it plain cattle farmers who spend their life tending sick animals almost every day have no death wish for Badgers but they cannot keep having their animals slaughtered.Lets get clean cattle and Badgers.

    1. Hi Dennis I think bio security can be a misunderstood subject. Last winter the anti cullers put out a video of some cattle in a barn. The cattle actually looked very clean and well fed however many people in the comments section were shocked that their was manure on the floor and were commenting about the appalling bio security.

    2. Llamas and alpacas and that are kept in appalling conditions by evil farmers in crowded dark barns knee-deep in dung and never allowed out to graze in natural conditions it's a disgrace and something should be done to stop it before they infect all our badgers with tubercleosis probably shoot them all is best because I hate all farmers and their evil leaders and that Paterson whatever his name is.


  9. I support farmers and want them to rid cattle of Tb. It really is a terrible disease. It is a shame though that the NFU have tracked everyone down this blind alley of killing badgers. The science says 16% improvement over 9 years of killing 70% of Britain's badgers. To most people, this is not justifiable. If there was a sicentific consensus stating that killing badgers would significantly improve tb, then most people wopuld agree with it, but there isn't. The fact that there isn't a scientific consensus is completely ignored by the NFU and all you people do is get angry when peiople question it. Yes we know all about the numebrs killed and so on, but we all know why tb has increased over the last 10 years, and it is to do with the fall out from the foot and mouth crisis. People can see straight through the NFu argumenet and they are simply not happy to accept that killing as many badgers as possible, for a 16% potential improvement in tb, with all the costs involved as wellm, is justifiable. It just doesn't add up ok? I don't think anybody would object to testing badgers for tb, then shooting them if they have it, after all, this is what wildlife rescue centres do all the time. Why then aimlessly kill all badgers, the vast majority of whom are completely healthy? Pro cull farmers - people are very very angry about this, ok.

  10. Would it not be better for farmers who have concerns about btb on their land, and feel that badgers have brought this terrible disease, work with the conservation groups and work together. I know that wildlife rescue centres only release healthy badgers free of btb back into the wild any badger that has this disease are put to sleep. Also working together the farmers would get the strongest of support from the public. As at the moment farmers are quite low down on the food chain. May remind us all great things were achived by working together than fighting each other. As for letting MP's making decisions even after experts have strongly been apposed to the cull, well I would trust them to organize a sock draw of two colours.

    1. That is the obvious thing. There is an army of volunteers who would vaccinate badgers and work WITH farmers to help them. If badgers are cage trapped and tested, if tb free (about 90% likelihood), then vaccinate them. if they have tb, then put them down (I know not ideal but no alternative). This process makes about a million times more sense, on a multitude of levels, then killing as many badgers as possible, and is also cheaper. It is utterly crazy that the Nfu are embarking on the cull at all costs, in the context as it is "shakes head".

  11. "Mark,I never understand why the conservationists who constantly give farmers flak never seem to help solve the problem by buying a field and showing farmers what they can achieve.It is not rocket science you just save a bit of money and buy a field,it is really simple.After all there are lots of relatively well off. conservationists"

    Dennis, have you ever heard of Hope Farm? - http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/projects/details/255987-hope-farm

  12. And Dennis - don't you recognise that there are plenty of non-farmers out here contributing to this country that don't get government subsidy hand-outs or compensation when their animals die from disease that in so many ways is only present because of the practices that famers adhere to :- http://www.bovinetb.co.uk/article.php?category_id=32&article_id=140

  13. Mark. I totally agree with you, 100%. I've actually spent a day working along side the staff at a wildlife rescue centre in somerset and they would not release any badger that was not healthy or if it was not able to fend for itself. There are a hell of a lot of farmers who are also against the cull and do as much for conservation as anyone and I believe that pressure has been on other farmers to vote for the cull. If other MPs follow "The Patterson theory", for example: just say we have an 18yr old thief on a housing estate, so we take every 18yr old or anyone who looks that age, off that estate and lock them all up or better still we should cut their hands off, that would solve the problem. Would that be acceptable. NO IT WOULD NOT. So why is this. I wonder what will Patterson's next target be. rats: cats: dogs: foxes: or maybe anything with 4 legs and a pulse.


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