After months of speculation about when the trial badger culls would begin, the fateful moment finally arrived on August 27 when marksmen armed with high velocity rifles stepped into fields throughout Somerset.
In a letter to NFU members, president Peter Kendall called the pilots – which will see around5,000 badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire culled over the next six weeks in an attempt to control bovine TB – “an important step” for both cattle farmers and the entire farming industry.
But not everybody sees it that way – and you can’t seem to turn on the television or open a web browser without being deluged with outpourings of grief and outrage sparked by the unnecessary deaths of these “beautiful creatures”; while the mainstream media is filled with the ire of organisations like the RSPCA, social media streams have become clogged withcountless pictures of tiny badger cubs and pleas to sign yet another petition to “stop the cull NOW!!!”
Unfortunately, however much this outrage is sparked by those supposedly “in the know”, the true torchbearers in this campaign are those who do not truly understand the plight of UK farmers and their cattle, but simply find the thought of killing a fluffy creature abhorrent.
“Vaccinate cattle” they say, unaware that such a solution is at least a decade away. “Culling won’t work” they say, ignoring the fact that ministers wouldn’t even consider this option if they knew for a fact that this was true (or would they?).
But too many of those who beg for the lives of the Government’s black and white adversaries do so with no real knowledge of the situation other than what they’ve heard on Twitter or Facebook – and what chance do rhyme and reason have against cutesy badger pictures or morality-rousing internet memes featuring Bill Oddie?