Friday, July 29, 2011

How Much Does Badger Culling Pay?

I have now reached that point in my cold where my voice is hoarse and ragged; the point where people think you are very, very ill. In my experience the voice bit occurs just past the point where you actually feel worst: that must have been about 2.30 a.m. this morning when I was awakened by a relentless sore throat and impelled downstairs for a cup of green tea.

Three a.m. found me working on my latest science feature which deals with the recent excitement in finding the Higgs boson (will be published on Monday). I was expanding the bit where I deal with the shape of the Higgs potential and spontaneous symmetry-breaking when the cat-flap banged and in came Shadow. I kind of ignored him, working away as I was, until his nipping of my ankle could no longer be endured, at which point I went to get him some food.

On the kitchen floor, next to the cat-flap was a large furry vole, quite dead. I threw this natural delicacy out into the bushes and gave him some kitty junior chicken instead, which he wolfed down, if that's the right metaphor. I sometimes think that cat is spoiled.

Apparently the Government is going to invest in a widespread badger cull to avert bovine TB, alleged to cost farmers a fortune every year. The approach will be to have sharp-shooters lurking in the midnight countryside, dressed head-to-foot in camo with high-powered sniper rifles. The targets will, of course, be free-ranging badgers.

This got me thinking. Will they pay by the night or is it per-badger? Do they transport you to the area or must you make your own way? Is the kit provided or do you have to buy your own? So many questions.

I reminded Clare that I was a marksman on the Lee-Enfield 303 when I was in Army Cadets back in school, and I did pretty well on the longbow at a camp we attended once. Should be a shoo-in: I get to write during the day and cull during the night, with pay for both. What's not to like?

Excuse me, why are you all looking at me like that?