Our wildlife is better left alone

LETTER PORTER RI Farm

Sir

I wish to respond to the letter from Robert Tucker from Armagh, which was in your paper of October 24.

I read Mr Tucker’s letter with some amusement, and feel I have to set him, and people who may have taken the time to read it, straight. He starts his letter by saying that he thinks badgers are only protected in the UK and ROI…. wrong! Information from the Council of Europe, compiled by Huw Griffiths and David Thomas, states that Albania, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands all protect their badgers against hunting.

Badgers became protected in the UK in 1973 only because of the horrendous amount of illegal badger baiting that was going on.

He then insists that the badger is causing severe problems for ground nesting birds, but what he failed to add was that a huge percentage of these are farm-bred game birds, reared for hunting! We all know that we have lost most of our birds through habitat changes. The RSPB have stated that cats alone are responsible for the loss of 27 million birds every year in the UK!

Mr Tucker states that bTB infects the badgers’ kidneys, whilst re-

search has shown the most frequently affected site is the lungs, along with the lymph nodes of the thorax.

To then state that badger digging can be humane when carried out by responsible people with the right sort of terrier… it is both humane and selective! Firstly, the digging of setts… often structures of great complexity, and age (up to 100 years old), not only adversely affects the badgers, but also a variety of cohabiting species. The use of tunnel dogs, aka terriers, can never be regarded as efficient… or humane. That is a sport… not an accredited form of “pest” control.

Then in his letter he brings up the Kimblewick hounds. Hounds are routinely fed disease-ridden fallen cattle carcases. That story was not uncovered for three months after it happened in 2017. Lord Gardiner of Kimble was Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary at the time… and former Deputy Chief Executive of the pro hunting Countryside Alliance… and an honorary member of the selfsame hunt… Do the words “cover up” come to mind?

The Kimblewicks hunt over land in counties Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Hert-

fordshire, and Oxfordshire. In bTB terms, that territory is in the middle of what is called “the edge area”, between high risk and low risk areas. Hunting carried on anyway using visiting packs of hounds. The story was only uncovered by some observant onlookers who realised that the Kimblewicks always wore mustard jackets, when, in fact, the hunt they were watching was in Grewen.

There are an estimated 3,000 hounds out in the bTB epidemic zones, two days a week, for six months of the year. Is it small wonder a lot of the farmers are banning the hunts from their land!

I would urge all of you to search for a very interesting piece written this week about Dr Brian May’s bTB free status Gatcombe farm.

“A new approach to disease control on a dairy farm in Devon – taking out infective cows and minimising exposure to slurry – has seen the herd attain TB-free status after six years of persistent breakdowns. The farm in question is Gatcombe Farm, run by Robert and Thomas Reed.

“They have been involved in a five-year project overseen by Dick Sibley of West Ridge Veterinary Practice, Tiverton, in partnership with Queen guitarist and animal rights supporter Brian May.”

It’s a long piece of writing, and not my place to add it here.

Finally, I was shocked at Mr Tucker’s closing paragraph… about wildlife “belonging” to farmers and landowners who tolerate, feed and support it! How dare he! Nature isn’t owned by anyone. As landowners and farmers, we are only keepers whilst we have the good grace to own or manage it.

He must think animals were put on this earth for us to do with as we like. They have as much right to be here as the rest of us … maybe more so. As a race we are responsible for so much damage, pollution, loss of species.

And “flat dwellers in Belfast have surely very little legitimate

involvement?”… How condescend-ing of him! Everyone has the right to try to protect our flora and fauna.

From Mr Tucker’s letter, I think he may be one of the people who gets enjoyment from seeing animals terrorised and slaughtered cruelly by hunting.

I own a considerable amount of acres and I vehemently protect all that lives here with me. This ridiculous cull needs to stop.

On the same page as Mr Tucker’s letter there is also the heading “need for wildlife control to reduce TB is reinforced by scientific evidence” … Funnily enough, by the UFU, who are consistently trying to brainwash, and keep the money rolling in, from farmers.

What a sad state of affairs this is! Only when farmers have the best biosecurity, animal husbandry, and controlled animal movement, will we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. As I said before .. “ LEAVE OUR WILDLIFE ALONE “

Yours, etc,

LIz Porter, Desertmartin

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