England Begins Controversial Badger Cull
The badger cull is still underway despite many protest, threats from activists and Parliamentary debate.
A badger, for those not acquainted with the species, is a mammal about three feet long with gray fur, a mouthful of sharp teeth, and a black-and-white face striped like a zebra crossing. Meles meles, the European badger, is indigenous to the United Kingdom, lives in an underground labyrinth of tunnels called a sett, and feeds on worms and grubs. There are about 300,000 badgers in England.
The badger has been around long enough to have survived two ice ages, but thanks to a Conservative-dominated coalition government plan, some 5,000 will not survive a culling policy that aims to reduce the spread of tuberculosis (known to be carried by badgers) in cattle.
In 1971, a dead badger was discovered in a barn in Gloucester, autopsied, and found to be infected with TB. The concern—that badgers transmit the bacterium to cows, thereby putting a farm at risk of being shut down until the infection has cleared—has enmeshed scientists, politicians, government bureaucrats, and farmers ever since.
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