Elusive Wildlife in Devon

A look at the Elusive Wildlife in Devon and The Fate of The Badger

Devon is rich in inspiration for an artist. There is so much to explore. The rolling countryside, shaped by farming together with the farm buildings, farm animals, barns and machinery is just one aspect that provides a continuing source of subjects that inspire me to set brush to canvas.

And then there is the wildlife. Birds are the most often spotted but the creatures on the ground are not so visible. Sitting quietly you might hear a rustle and, if you are lucky, catch a glimpse of a scurrying shrew. If you move a large stone a whole lot of tiny toads might be revealed.

An evening walk will, very occasionally, be interrupted by a larger grey shape crossing the lane ahead. Aah! A Badger! Look at that… And then it’s gone.

(Painting – Badger crosses a Devon lane at dusk. Watercolour)

Suddenly you are worried. Who knows there are badgers ’round here? Better not say you have seen one. Could be the kiss of death for the beautiful creature. I wonder, where the sett is and how many are here?

Book: The Fate of  The Badger by Dr. Richard Meyer

Richard is a scientist and artist living in Devon. I met him some time ago and enjoy seeing his work when I get the chance. A joint exhibition of his paintings with ceramics by Eilean Eland, was just such an opportunity. The exhibition unexpectedly coincided with the publication of the new edition his book, first published 30 years ago and Richard was organising the launch at the same time  – everything happening at once.

The Badger Cull

After 30 years, Richard emerged from his sett to find they are still killing badgers with no more justification than they had in the 1980s, in fact far less. His passion is  infectious so I bought and read his book. I hope many more will buy it too.
He has written a new chapter for this edition covering more recent developments as well as two new appendices dealing with Wales and Ireland.

My Review

We, the ignorant townies and blow-ins seldom fully understand the ways of rural life. We try to learn and fit in, accepting many of the practices that are distasteful to us but necessary for the production of food. We are often regarded as stupid or soft if we voice concerns about the ways of the countryside.

In our eagerness to back up those concerns we read and learn more, but the issues are complex. Politics, science and emotions all play their part in the formation plans and directives for farmers and of public opinion.

Richard’s book sets out the the story behind the persecution of badgers for everyone from every side, suggests further reading and does so with humour and passion. It’s not exactly an easy read – so much of it is distressing – but it is easy to read and triggers many a wry laugh – followed by tears.

‘The Fate of The Badger’ should be compulsory reading for the very people who would not give it a second glance.
Perhaps it should be subtitled ‘How To Finally Get Rid of Badgers’ to catch their attention.

This book is an eye opener to more than the badger issue. It provides an insight into how government decisions are made.

You can read more reviews and purchase the book at http://www.fire-raven.co.uk/

For more information and articles about current practice,  just type ‘The Badger cull’ in your search engine of choice.

2 thoughts on “Elusive Wildlife in Devon”

  1. What a great review! Thank you so much for taking the trouble to write it.

    My view of the effects of farming on the landscape are a little different to yours. We have become so accustomed to the patchwork we now respond to it favourably. And it is certainly attractive. But my farmer neighbours cut down trees willy-nilly and never replant. Let’s promote the great re-wilding project which promotes trophic cascading and requires more woodland, more beavers and more lynxes!! Good for our health and for tourism, which seem to be the West Country’s main ‘industry’.

    Trees, trees, trees – we can hide in and dream. Let’s always remember that pre-man a squirrel could in theory travel from Lands End to John O’Groats without ever touching the ground. Yes, I know, some squirrel!

    • I hope my small contribution will help to promote ‘The Fate Of The Badger’ and that concerned and influential people will read the book.

      Regarding farmers and their attitudes. I know a farmer who plants trees for enjoyment on his land and is conscious of the effect his farming has on wildlife. He is not unique.

      My own tree-planting extends a spinny a farmer planted on the land that meets my field.

      Never say never Richie, there is always hope and your work contributes enormously:)

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