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Sad Badgers: Protesting the badger cull in Oxford

Yesterday Protect the Wild joined masked- and badger-suited members of the Oxford Badger Coalition and Oxfordshire Badger Group on the streets of Oxford.

Under sunny skies and humid conditions (which made wearing a furry, cumbersome badger suit very hard work indeed so kudos to Betty and the rest!) we found ourselves in the midst of graduation day gatherings and huge numbers of tourists.

The message (given out on leaflets like the one below) was that the badger cull must stop. And it certainly mustn’t be expanded into another kill zone in Oxfordshire.

 

 

Why were we there?

As we have previously noted, the UK badger population is internationally important and the species is supposed to be fully protected by law, yet in 2022 at least 33,627 were killed nationally. More than 210,000 badgers have been killed with the permission of Defra since ‘culling’ began in 2013.  Few if any were tested for BovineTB after being shot and killed.

Defra aims to kill up to 72% of the UK badger population by 2025. The ‘cull’ has been described as “the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory“, a “national wildlife tragedy”, and campaigners have repeatedly warned that the destruction of so many animals will lead to local extinctions.

As ‘sad badger’ herself pointed out:

Bovine TB is a cattle disease which spreads from cattle to cattle. The chances of badgers having it in the first place and passing it to cattle is minimal. The clue is in the name.

 

On to the images…

The day wasn’t all ‘sad; or downbeat of course. The response from the public was encouraging, and we did get to spend time thinking up puns and slogans for social media. They seemed much cleverer at the time to be honest but included:

We’re joining the Morse Tour – perhaps Oxford’s fictional detective has an insight into #Oxford’s fictional solution to a cattle disease #oxfordshiresbadgershame” (Colin Dexter’s books featuring Inspector Morse are largely set in an apparently (and thankfully exaggerated) murderous Oxford.)

The badgers of Oxford aren’t dreaming of spires, they’re dreaming of not being killed #oxfordshiresbadgershame” (Victorian poet Matthew Arnold called Oxford ‘the city of dreaming spires’ after the stunning architecture of its university buildings.)

Even #LewisCarroll couldn’t dream up something as topsy-turvy as the damn #badgercull. ‘Sad badgers’ outside #christchurch #oxfordshiresbadgershame” (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll and author of the ‘Alice’ books, was a maths tutor at Christ Church College, Oxford.)

The place you fight cruelty is where you find it, and the place you give help is where you see it needed. #oxfordshiresbadgershame.” (From His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, which is partly set in Oxford in a universe parallel to our own and home of the trilogy’s young heroine Lyra Belacqua.)

 

 

 

 Oxfordshire Badger Group are working incredibly hard to stop the badger cull in their county. Please support them if you are able to:

 

(The photos above were taken by Protect the Wild by or outside the Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe Camera, All Souls College, High Street, Oxford Town Hall, and Christ Church College. Please feel free to download and use them on social media using #oxfordshiresbadgershame. If you’d like higher-res or larger images please contact us.)