British like killing their wildlife too

BADGERED: Five thousand
BADGERED: Five thousand "protected" badgers are to be culled each year for the next four years. Contributed

NOT content with swiftly wiping out a serious proportion of native animals in past decades, Britain has embarked on a controversial cull to rid the countryside of annoying badgers.

Five thousand of these "protected" creatures will be killed each year for the next four years in a bid to protect commercially reared cattle.

Badgers, it seems, have the misfortune to spread the virulent bovine tuberculosis disease which is ailing the UK's beef herds.

Like Britain, Australia is fast losing wildlife considered to be of no value when compared to commercially bred or domestically pampered animals.

A prime example of this profit-based preference is the demand in Queensland to wipe out bats in the wake of the hendra horse-killing virus.

To "badger" a person means to pester or harass.

That's derived from the way badgers are persecuted by humans, not vice versa.

Many high-profile Brits, including rock star Brian May and actor Dame Judi Dench, have called for a halt to the current badger cull.

The UK government, predictably, claims the killings will be carried out humanely.

A group called Stop the Cull plans to use vuvuzelas, strobe lighting and loud music to scare the animals away, before taking photos of the marksmen to publish on the internet along with images of landowners who support the cull. Protesters have also threatened to carry out citizen's arrests and camp out to protect badgers. The likely effectiveness of this cull is still under review.

Opponents of the cull have claimed other countries have dealt with bovine TB by controlling cattle movements and that badger vaccination programs would work.

Public, political and scientific opinion seems solidly against the slaughter, according to news reports, yet it goes ahead.

Britain's badgers are supposedly protected by their own Act of Parliament. This hasn't stopped the cull.

I'm disgusted by the lack of empathy for an animal that's trying to survive in an increasingly hostile world populated by dangers like busy traffic, snaring, shooting, gassing and poisoning.

One newspaper story was particularly galling.

Badgers, large animals with strong claws, were accused of burrowing into a gravesite.

The widow of the grave's occupant expressed her "horror" at the desecration.

"The family decided on a plot in a beautiful corner of the cemetery with a wonderful view out over the fields," she said. "We thought it would be the perfect place, but it's turned into a nightmare."

Sounds like a nightmare for the unfortunate fauna that just happened to occupy that particular plot of land before humans claimed it for a burial ground.

The badgers weren't the only wildlife to be prime suspects in the act of vandalism - the bereaved family at first blamed rabbits.

Villagers in the vicinity complained that gardens had been disturbed and tulips "devoured" by the marauding badgers.

Why is it that we humans are so intolerant of wild animals when they encroach on our activities?

We'll happily install bird baths to attract fauna that give us pleasure, while pronouncing a death sentence on animals that eat our tulips.


Oh dear, I feel my "later-life" crisis may be coming on ...

JUST when I thought I'd coped fairly well with mid-life crisis, researchers have discovered a "later-life" crisis.

I'm well and truly in the danger zone for that phenomenon, being aged between 60 and 65 years.

A third of people surveyed in their 60s described going through a period of crisis during which they questioned the meaning of life.

Maybe I'm more curious than most, but I'd been pondering that very issue well before I could collect my superannuation.

Apparently we question the "meaning of life" more at times when people we know and love are sick or suffering from illness.

A comforting conclusion to the research is that many over-60s enjoy life more than they did in the past.

They set new goals to achieve, and appreciate every day they have.

A later-life crisis also often leads to a big change in lifestyle.

The likely downside is a decline in physical and mental abilities, with some "retreating from the world".

Research leader Dr Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich, suggests that some people "in crisis" may need to seek professional help.

Good support networks help navigate the crisis.

The research doesn't touch on the common behaviours associated with the mid-life crisis and whether they re-appear in the later version, like the acquisition of unusual or expensive items such as motorbikes, boats, clothing, sports cars, gadgets, tattoos and piercings.

I must admit, I was salivating over a green Aston Martin the other day. I can feel a crisis coming on...

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