Top positive review
36 people found this helpful
on 4 November 2013
It took me quite a while to read Patrick Barkham's book Badgerlands not because it is a bad book but the chapters on the cruelty, persecution and culling inflicted on badgers was upsetting and just made me put it down and try again in a few days. There are uplifting chapters on the descriptions of people being badger watchers and feeders. I am also glad that Mr. Barkham has at last been able to engage with badgers and his descriptions are also uplifting.
One professional reviewer describes Barkham's last chapter as superb. I agree. I was wondering if I was really going to get anything from the book because as an ecologist I was hopefully waiting for a positive dénouement. There it was in the final chapter. In 2006 when we then lived in Somerset we wrote to the National Farmers Union about the poor standards of animal husbandry that we were witnessing in Somerset. The response from the Director of Communications was that the standard of animal husbandry was an area of concern. He also said the NFU "did not normally give advice on husbandry to its members as traditionally that have been the province of Defra." He continues "However, we are actively considering the possibility of introducing a professional qualification for people who describe themselves as "farmers" with the object of raising standards and sorting out the bad apples".
Well seven years later there still seems to be a lot of "bad apples" out there and Barkham quotes six professional vets who insist that intensive dairy-farming has produced "mutant cows" unable to resist TB because of the appalling conditions and breeding they are subjected to. So we have made the badger the scapegoat for a deplorable situation. I have as much sympathy for farm animals as badgers and I don't wish to see any animal destroyed needlessly but the solution is not the random culling of a wild animal. Surely time for supermarkets to cough up some of their profits and pay farmers to ensure the welfare of their cows and raise standards and sort out the "bad apples". Politicians also need to understand this.