If karma exists - and it surely does, being the only explanation for injustice in the world - then members of the UK government will have reason to be quaking in their boots when karma comes around to visit them - and it will be in the spectre of 45,000 murdered badgers.
The current British government is responsible for sanctioning a badger cull which has, during the past five years alone, seen the slaughter of tens of thousands of badgers across the British countryside in a highly controversial attempt to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle. The badgers are believed to carry the disease and unwittingly spread it to cattle through their dung. Bovine TB is clearly a significant problem for farmers not least because they are forced to slaughter their cattle if they are shown to be affected - even though there is no ethical reason to do so.
But badgers are being randomly killed in huge numbers without any good reason or scientific fact to back up the weak hypothesis that they are the guilty party. According to Wildlife Trusts who are vehemently opposed to the cull, “This is a cattle problem, not a badger problem.... the primary route of infection is via cow-to-cow contact”.
I'm told that the vast majority of the culled badgers have not even been tested for TB so it remains unclear just how many are actually infected anyway, indeed tests carried out between 2002 and 2005 found that 83% of badgers culled in trials were free from TB. This means that the cull is a hugely random act of mass extermination without any genuine justification. Many times it is reported that the badgers suffer lingering, agonising deaths after being shot during the course of the cull.
Opinions are so polarised on this contentious issue that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Some claim that culling the badgers has actually increased the incidence of TB due to the destruction of the badgers' social groups, leading surviving members of one group to encroach on the territory of another, spreading the disease to a previously unaffected population.
Whatever the real facts turn out to be, one statistic that cannot be disputed is that since the cull began, a whopping 45,000 badgers have been killed, significantly reducing the overall population and with no proof that the cull is being effective in any way. The fact that mass extermination of a protected species can be allowed, let alone positively approved, is deplorable.
A simple understanding of basic morality suggests that this slaughter is wrong on so many levels.
The pro-cull lobby has also tried a rather distasteful tactic of pitching one treasured creature against another, suggesting that the badgers are also responsible for the dramatic decline of the hedgehog, going so far as to say that the British hedgehog population may recover if badgers are culled. While there may be a tiny modicum of carefully manipulated 'truth' hidden somewhere in this claim (namely that badgers do occasionally eat hedgehogs), the blame for the demise of the British hedgehog lies squarely with the human population who have embarked on a wholesale destruction of its habitat. To blame badgers for the harm perpetrated by humans is a very cynical attempt at diverting responsibility and doesn't wash at all. Hedgehogs have disappeared in areas of the country entirely devoid of badgers so it doesn't take a genius to work out that we humans are the cause of their decline.
The badger cull is far from over, many thousands more badgers may still be shot in this horrible killing spree which is yet to show significant results in eradicating bovine TB but has already resulted in a widespread decimation of one of Britain's rarest, most loved - and supposedly protected - species.
Quite how the government considers it acceptable to cull a species that is protected by law is open to conjecture but the whole escapade is evidently very confused and chaotic.
Flying in the face of the government's 'green' promises to improve animal welfare and protect the environment, the truth appears to be somewhat contradictory. The government have, albeit belatedly, announced a ban on bee-killing pesticides and have vowed to tackle puppy smuggling - good news indeed - while at the same time they are stubbornly ploughing on, quite literally, with the HS2 railway project which is decimating the countryside and killing all animals in its path.
The same government's wishy washy position on the grotesque practice of fox hunting shows little understanding of what constitutes 'animal welfare', the dictionary definition of which is as follows: "the protection of the health and well-being of animals". Quite how badger culling and fox hunting fit into that definition is difficult to fathom and the government's promises to uphold animal welfare appears to be a nonsense when seen in that context.
Not that the governing Conservatives are alone in their muddled thinking. It was only two years ago that the Labour party were busy extolling the virtues of bird-killing wind farms after accepting a hefty donation from a wind energy mogul, leading some to suggest that money can be painted 'green' and used to fund cloak-and-dagger environmental destruction on a grand scale.
With politicians of all colours making dodgy decisions with regard to our wildlife and environment, is there any hope for the natural world they so glibly and superficially claim to care about?
Rule number one remains 'don't trust the politicians'. While one party condones the mass slaughter of a protected species, their opposition will spout loud words of condemnation, all the while doing their own shifty deals with little or no regard for the preservation of that which belongs to us all – our precious wildlife and countryside.
45,000 dead badgers should be all the proof we need.
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