The first thing we did when we began to garden here was to put a deer fence around the garden with a cattle grid at the entrance. Without that the garden simply wouldn’t have got going. But while the cattle grid kept out the deer it was useless with badgers, who just waddled over it, and we quite often saw them doing just that when we returned home late at night. This was potentially a problem as badgers forage for worms and can cause havoc in the process. They are large and powerful animals. We then discovered that they were actually living in our garden- their sett was in the fern garden. But we have been lucky- they forage in the woods behind us and tend to leave the garden alone, although they sometimes make a mess of the lawns.
But whilst I can live happily with badgers in my garden I share the antipathy of all farmers towards them. They carry TB; they infect cattle with TB and are responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of cattle each year. On my farm I’ve had two scares, when, after routine tests for TB, cattle have had a positive reaction. In both cases they have been false alarms, but three healthy rare-breed cows have had to be slaughtered and we have been put to immense trouble and expense because of the false readings. In the West Country whole herds of cattle are routinely put down. There is no doubt that badgers are responsible for spreading the disease. Now the new government has had the courage to allow badgers to be killed in the infected areas. The last time this was proposed 47,000 animal lovers complained and the government backed down. This time the government must hold firm.