To say that I leapt out of bed with a song on my lips and joy in my heart would be a gross exaggeration, it was more of a reluctant slide out of bed and a tentative glance out of the window to see what the weather was up to. Outside it was damp and foggy, so up on the Goyt it would be very damp and very foggy. I called out to Lilly. I heard a tail thumping somewhere and looked under the bed. There she was looking at me with pleading eyes, surely its too wet to go to the Goyt, she was saying, lets just go to the park and play football instead.
Twenty minutes later we were in the Goyt lane car park setting off in the fog. A figure with a couple of terriers strolled towards me. Funny looking bloke in a wide brimmed hat. Hello Simon, he said, and the funny looking chap was Tim. I had failed to recognise him not because of his hat but because of my failing eye sight, another sign of aging and infirmity. We exchanges pleasantries whilst the dogs sniffed bottoms and then went on our way. A grumpy farmer drove past on his four wheeled motorised quad bike, with his collie balanced comfortably on the back. It was very foggy. After twenty minutes I cut down off the disused railway track into the valley and began to realise that though I knew where I was, everything looked so different in the fog. I guess that as I had to look at my immediate surroundings in more detail I was noticing things that normally would be ignored. It was unnerving as if I was walking here for the first time and not the thousandth. I guess that we take things that are near to us for granted and only when the wider view is cut off or denied to us do we start to notice things close at hands.
The misplaced ill informed badger cull starts again in Somerset and Gloucestershire. The purpose of the cull is to establish were the kill rate needs to be to have any impact on Bovine TB. Now I don’t support the cull, the science seems to point away from culling as a method of making any significant impact on bovine TB and could well result in an increase in the incidence of the disease. But if DEFRA are going to go ahead then they should at least employ some scientific rigour and try and analyse the results objectively. They have decided not to do this, which renders the whole culling business a mere sop to the NFU and the other farming lobby groups who will not accept that it is their farming methods that are in the main responsible for Bovine TB. The dismissal of annual testing and its effectiveness by the NFU spokesman on the Country File programme a few weeks ago told you all you needed to know about how the NFU view science and the evidence it casts on Bovine TB.
DEFRA at last replied to the e petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting this week. Their reply came at the same time that it was announced that a hen harrier pair had successfully fledged 5 chicks in the Peak District, the first time that this had happened for eight years. This brought the total number of successful nesting pairs to, wait for it 4. Yes 4. DEFRA thinks this is something for them to be proud of. They should be ashamed. The Peak District pair nested on National Trust land and it was on a walked on grouse moor not a driven shoot. Other pairs have been successful on United Utility land. Privately owner driven grouse moors still have no hen harriers nesting on them and in the Peak District Peregrines are also suffering. So DEFRA, its simple. Stop obfuscating and support the upholding of the law, that it is illegal to shoot, kill, persecute, or in any other way harm or cause to be harmed, these fantastic birds. If you don’t, then we (the silent majority) will do everything we can to get driven grouse shooting banned.