Here?s how the go-ahead for pilot badger culls was announced by one national newspaper: England?s pleasant pastures would echo to the sound of badgers being shot by marksmen as early as next year under a scheme to stop the spread of tuberculosis in cattle.

Which tabloid paper do you think ran this ? The Sun? The Daily Mail? The Daily Mirror? Nope. It was the Financial Times (FT), would you believe. Yet the FT is normally known for its dry content and scrupulous accuracy. And to be fair to the FT in this case, the rest of the article continued in a relatively calm and factual manner. Nonetheless, one has to wonder how the FT can justify that opening sentence.

Still, it?s as well not to get too hot under the collar about this sort of thing. As we have seen many times, a lack of a sense of humour is one of the things that characterises the antis ? probably as a result of mineral deficiency due to a vegan diet.

This notorious lack of humour was evident in the outraged reaction to a quip by Lincolnshire-based Conservative MEP Roger Helmer, who tweeted that one benefit of a badger cull might be cheaper shaving brushes. He later explained, ?I was bleary-eyed and having a shave in Brussels. With badger brush in hand I thought I?d tell people why a badger cull would be a good idea. It was meant to be amusing. But, of course, the manic badger-huggers have gone po-faced.?

Certainly, a spokesman for the Badger Trust failed to see the light- hearted nature of Mr Helmer?s remarks, and icily pointed out that, ?any badger hair used in shaving brushes is imported from France.? The implication is that the French, as we all know, do unspeakable things.

Apparently, about half a million badger-hair shaving brushes are imported into the UK annually. If this is true, then there must be a multi- million pound badger hair import business going on. It seems to me that Britain?s hard-pressed dairy farmers, who host so many badgers on their land, should get a slice of any badger revenue. Why import when we could provide British jobs for British workers (to use Gordon Brown?s immortal phrase) to run a home-grown shaving brush industry? Indeed, couldn?t we even start exporting badger hair to other countries?

Badger ham?

When you think about it, this is the ultimate in sustainable farm diversification. It makes use of the pelts of an animal that is going to be culled anyway for animal welfare and economic reasons. It is a rural- based industry. It could involve high value products; some high quality, traditional brushes sell for as much as £300 each, apparently. We should aim for the top end of the market.

Why, even the antis should approve of making best use of animals that have been legally culled. They may not like the idea of killing badgers, but if they are going to be killed then surely the carcases should be put to good use, rather than merely wasted? Besides, even antis shave (well, some of them) and what would they prefer to use ? synthetic, environmentally unfriendly brushes, or the redundant bristles of deceased giant weasels? It seems to me that using the body parts of culled badgers has a faint echo of the moral case for organ donation.

In fact, why not use the entire animal? Surely, the meat could be sold as wholesome, traditional, country fare? ?Free-range badger ham? has a certain ring about it.

Come to think of it, why shouldn?t the Badger Trust itself sell genuine culled badger products in order to help swell its coffers? It could do so through accredited outlets ? National Trust farm shops spring to mind. OK, a few members might protest, but to reiterate, a number of badgers are going to be culled anyway, so why not use them to help fund the ongoing campaign on behalf of their species? Why, it all makes perfect sense.

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