A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

To cull or not to cull [badgers, deer and hedgehogs (again!)…..]

'A Soliloquy for Margaret à Beckett'
(or 'David Archer on a Tractor with a Hamlet Cigar')
(Even deeper apologies to the Bard than usual)

TO CULL, or not to cull: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler for the farmer to suffer
The diseases and viruses of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a bloat of badgers,
And by gassing end them? To cull; let sleep;
No more; and, by their sleep to say we end
TB and all the thousand natural shocks
That herds are heir to, ‘tis a consumption
Devoutly to be miss’d. To cull, let sleep;
Let sleep: perchance they dream: ay, there’s the grub;
For in their sleep of death no beetles come
When they have snuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes a nonsense of a beastly life;
For who would bear the hog and deer of time,
Jaws of iron, proud eggs eaten contumely,
Vegetation grazed away, the law’s delay,
Introduced insolence that then spurns
The patient merit of our native stock,
When we are badgered day and night
By a bare hedgekin? Who would Pooh bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
And, like a David Archer, fear yet more dread
Of undiscovered cows, reactors showing
In Herefords gross tumours growing,
A farm with no returns and furrowed brow,
Oft many badgers, but no longer cow?
Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their udders turn all dry,
And lose the name of action.

Signed (for the lads at The Guardian), Stotty Shakespeare. I shall now get me to a bunnery for lunch.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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