The natural world is fluffy only for warmth, and generally not far behind the fluff is a gob full of razor teeth and a healthy swipe-full of claw. “Nature red in tooth and claw” is the old saying and it’s everso true. Kill and be killed. As a pagan, apparently, I am supposed not merely to accept that truth, but to honour it totally. I was told so the other day, albeit by an adherent of one of the book faiths who clearly knew me better than I did. So, when it comes to the ongoing badger cull, why am I so opposed?
I do understand the ambiguity within pagan circles of deliberate vegetarianism when we are so obviously equipped for meat eating as well. It’s not about that. I’m not much of a pet person either (although I do have a tropical fish tank). Pets are both too demanding of my time and too subject to my control – the relationship is not one I would seek. So I don’t have an implicit love of animals in a possessive sense. I love the open woodlands and fields of England and I do have a healthy aversion to people with loaded high velocity rifles wandering around in public and semi-public spaces, in the darkness of the night. If they were in other public and semi-public spaces there would be an anti-terrorist armed response! But it’s not that.
It’s the contrary nature of the cull, the incompetence of the process, the lack of insight, and the stagnation of alternatives. It’s the lording (and I use the word specifically) of those who would tame the wilderness, over those who celebrate it. It’s the plain fact that none of this will affect bTB in any more than a minor sense, may increase it locally, and will be used by the dairy industry as an excuse to continue with poor practices that exacerbate the infection vectors that exist between the wild life and the industrial.
As the ultimate predator, humans manage their environment including the other folk who live in it. That’s what humans do. In creating an environment where overcrowded cattle rub up against increasingly constrained wild life, humans have created the TB problem and now, other humans are trying to deal with it. Culling is done all over the place, to reduce populations for many reasons, mostly because we want the space or to reduce predation that doesn’t fit with our own.
Badger culling might have been understandable in human terms if there was any sense, or scientific validation, or even minimal competence to it. But science has proven the inadequacy of a cull in this matter, has offered other options that will not be pursued while the cull is king, and the cull is being carried out without even the most basic of competence. No follow up examination of the corpses for statistical purposes, or for analysis of bTB prevalence. No understanding of how many is enough, or how many is too many..
Just get out there and blast away chaps. And soon, once this fiasco has bludgeoned the protesters into silence, and Joe Public has accepted the rule of the gentry farmer, we’ll get fox hunting back on the agenda and life will be back to normal for the ruling classes.