Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
By the time you read this 100,000 English badgers may have gone to that big animal farm in the sky (or as the Brits might put it, gone for a burton).
In an ongoing British battle, reminiscent of the War of the Roses, it’s badgers vs. cows and every last Brit seems to have taken a firm stand on one side or the other. For a good long time, badgers have been a protected species in the UK. Badger baiting, a really nefarious sport, was banned in 1835. And more recently at the end of the last century the Protection of Badgers Act made it illegal to kill, injure or speak harshly to one of the little critters.
The critters are members of the weasel family which does make one wonder why they’re thought so highly of. They’re nocturnal which suggests there’s not a lot of interspecies contact between badgers and humans – or cows for that matter. Had you forgotten the cows?
It seems that badgers carry bacteria that can cause bovine tuberculosis, which is considered a major threat to the cattle industry. According to the government, 26,000 cattle had to be slaughtered last year thanks to bovine TB. Thus the cull (sounds a lot like kill).
The cull is to take place in the counties of Gloucestershire and Somerset where the government plans to kill up to 100,000 badgers. They will be lured out of their beds during the dead of night with peanuts and assassinated by highly trained snipers from nearby rooftops.
As you might imagine, badger lovers are not pleased and have been raising an ever escalating brouhaha, so much so that police vacations in the two counties have been canceled for fear of impending violence. It sounds a lot like the range wars between sheepherders and cattle barons in our Old West, as portrayed in Shane, The Virginian, and a host of other movies and television shows.
In fact, I’ve been thinking about a movie based on this modern range war. It will feature star-crossed lovers — a boy whose uncle runs cattle and a girl whose daddy runs badgers — and plenty of drama, gunfights, growling, churring, and mooing. I think I’ll call it Badger Dawn.