Archive for May, 2013


We spent the recent Bank holiday weekend in Somerset visiting many of the sites associated with the legend of King Arthur. Whilst visiting Cadbury Castle (a windswept hillfort and a contender for the fabled site of Camelot) I thought about a tale I’d heard back in Glastonbury; it spoke of King Arthur and his knights “sleeping under a huge mound of a green hill quietly awaiting the call to arms for their beloved country”. It would appear that the great king is quietly biding his time and, when England is at her greatest peril, he will rise up and save the land.

As I trod wearily (and out of breath) towards the summit I wondered if they were indeed sleeping quietly beneath my boots and cursed the fact that I hadn’t brought a copy of MP Nick Boles’ latest announcement on the future of England’s countryside with me to read aloud and possibly rouse them from their turf-covered slumbers.

For, according to Mr Boles (in a tone remarkably reminiscent to the environmental minister’s slamming of anti-badger cull protests as “sad sentimentality”), said “the sum of human happiness that is created by the houses that are built is vastly greater than the economic, social and environmental value of a field growing wheat or rape”.

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DOG EAT DOG?

In my column ‘Crossing the headlines’ in this week’s Dog World (22nd May 2013), I look into what’s really in our dogs’ food…

My Nan always used to say ‘you are what you eat’ and, like most old adages, there is more than a grain of truth contained within those few words.
I’m sure we’ve all been horrified by the recent revelations concerning what is actually in some of our meat products and it was while reading yet another of these frightening exposes I got to wondering, what exactly could be lurking in our dog foods?
Now, I’m a ‘Dachshund man’. My family have owned the breed for over 50 years and all our dogs have been fed on the ‘natural’ or ‘raw’ diet. My wise, old Nan loathed processed dog food and we have simply followed her lead.
Despite owning Dachshunds (bred from show lines and in all coats and sizes) we have never (touch wood) experienced ‘back problems’ and all our dogs have reached their teens with very few visits being paid to our local vet.
Some would say I’ve just been extremely lucky, although I’m not usually a lucky kind of fella having only got three numbers on the lottery twice in the past ten years, but I would prefer to put their long life and health down to their feeding regime combined with liberal exercise.

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In the letters page of today’s Dorset Echo (22nd May 2013), one wonders if the anonymous writer is (or is a friend of) ‘Nick’ who commented on a previous pro-cull article on here: https://leeconnorblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/reply-from-the-pro-badger-cull-lobby/

Yet again, no real points are made…

http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/yousay/yourletters/10435185.Badgers_are_danger_to_cows/

In reply to the two letters which you have printed in defence of badgers, may I reply.

Since the unwise legislation a few years ago which made these animals a protected species, there has been a vast increase in their numbers, they have probably trebled. After all badgers have no natural enemies.

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My personal recollections of watching the brown hare in Hertfordshire and the need for a ‘close season’…

I’ve often wondered exactly what factors are needed to create a naturalist. I mean, what exactly is it that causes that insatiable thirst for information and a life long appreciation of the natural world?

I know a number of those who’ve ‘found’ nature had a sense of feeling ‘different’ from other kids – a sense of isolation. Others with a love of nature suffered bullying as children and a few (like me) had what is often described as a ‘troubled’ background.

This troubled background stemmed from a violent and alcoholic father and it was the need to escape his wrath that pushed me out into exploring our countryside, rootling through hedgerows, splashing through streams and turning over logs and rocks studying the various creepy crawlies that lived underneath.

And, whilst doing so, the memories of the smashed-up living room, broken vases or the cruel words aimed at me lost their power and prominence in my mind. Friday nights were always the most dreaded and it became a ritual to ‘evacuate’ the home and, accompanying me on many a Friday evening ramble through the Hertfordshire countryside, was my little sister (and our dog, Lucy).

It was on one such escapade that we stumbled quite by chance into the ‘Kingdom of the Hares’.

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I thought it would be worthwhile expanding on the discussion relating to controlling apex predators, as brought up in the comments of this previous blog post about the badger cull: https://leeconnorblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/reply-from-the-pro-badger-cull-lobby/

I’ve heard the same argument for ‘controlling predators’ justified by now linking ‘increased badger numbers to a fall in songbirds/bees/hedgehogs numbers’ which I feel is ridiculous. As one can see from my photos, I have badgers in my garden and it is also filled with songbirds, bees and hedgehogs. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that we also have hedges, stands of mixed woodland and pasture around us – for now, that is, as developers are keenly eyeing it up while being urged on by our government.

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CHANGE OF DIRECTION?

There seems to be movement away from the issue of Bovine TB (which I thought was the reason for the cull) to a need to control rising badger numbers.

An interesting theme from the pro-cull lobby is the reference to the badger being an apex predator with nothing to control its numbers. Do these people making these claims drive around with their eyes shut?

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Robert Tuck writes in today’s (17th May 2013) Bournemouth Echo (and Dorset Echo) in support of my letter from last week.

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/yoursay/letterstotheeditor/10426821.Money_wasted_over_cull_issue/

http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/yousay/yourletters/10427015.Badger_cull_a_waste_of_time/

 

Lee Connor (Letters, May 10) is absolutely correct about the badger cull.

This government has spent and wasted £50million of taxpayers’ money on research, the findings of which they are now choosing to deliberately ignore in order to curry favour with their farming supporters, although it has to be noted that a few farmers are not in favour of this cull. Much destruction and cruelty will be caused which could be avoided by a systematic vaccination programme, which is already being trialled in some areas by those who are trying desperately to save the badgers.

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In response to those who have questioned the use of the Blackcap as an example of a migrant to the UK suffering from the effects of trapping and the prevalence/importance of the Blackcap to Cypriot trappers , here are some links, etc to answer those challenges raised against the original article.

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Today (16th May 2013) the Dorset Echo also printed my letter alerting readers to the proposed badger cull in Dorset which has been set aside as a reserve area.

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From the letters page of the Bournemouth Echo (14th May 2013) a reader replies to my article. Interestingly enough, I was willing to put my name to my convictions; this person ‘name and address withheld’ obviously thinks differently…

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/yoursay/letterstotheeditor/10417646.Badger_cull_is_long_overdue/

The badger cull is not a mistake, it is long overdue. I speak as a keen naturalist.

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