The Ecologist


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English badger. Photo: Kentish Plumber via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

England's £100m badger cull extensions condemned

The Ecologist

23rd August 2016

England is about to extend its badger cull policy to five new areas of the country, proving that only that science is a dead letter to May's conservative government as it was to Cameron's. While bovine TB infections in cattle rise in the existing cull areas, Wales has just achieved a cull-free 14% reduction. more...
Badger, seen at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Alas poor Brock! The insanity of the badger cull

Martin Hancox

27th May 2016

The lives of all the thousands of badgers slaughtered in the name of TB eradication have been lost in vain, writes Martin Hancox. The cryptic reservoir of bovine TB is the cattle themselves, and no amount of badger killing will make the slightest difference to the problem. Once we have grasped this reality the solution is astonishingly simple: improved TB testing that picks up all infected cattle. more...
White storks on road near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Many parts of the Chernobyl region have low radioactivity levels and serve as refuges for plants and animals. But other areas are acutely radiotoxic. Birds tend to be especially susceptible to radiation impact

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife

Timothy A. Mousseau, University of South Carolina

27th April 2016

Field studies show that the intense radioactivity released by the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters is seriously and unequivocally damaging to wildlife, writes Timothy A. Mousseau - in stark contrast to theoretical studies that show little or no impact on plant and animal health and populations. more...
Radioactivity warning sign on the hill at the east end of Chernobyl's Red Forest, so called due to the characteristic hue of the pine trees killed by high levels of radiation after the disaster. Photo: Timm Suess via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Blind mice and bird brains: the silent spring of Chernobyl and Fukushima

Linda Pentz Gunter

25th April 2016

Evolutionary biologist Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues have published 90 studies that prove beyond all doubt the deleterious genetic and developmental effects on wildlife of exposure to radiation from both the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. But all that peer-reviewed science has done little to dampen the 'official' perception of Chernobyl's silent forests as a thriving nature reserve. more...
Dairy farm in Somerset, a county with a high bTB incidence. The farm has a certain dilapidated rustic charm, but it's hardly an environment in which strict biosecurity can be guaranteed. Photo: Elliott Brown via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Tall stories: BBC's anti-science support for badger culling

Lesley Docksey

2nd March 2016

A programme to be broadcast on BBC2 promoting badger culling as the answer to bovine TB is praised in the corporation's flagship Radio Times, writes Lesley Docksey. But both are criticised by experts for their inaccuracy and bias. The main reservoir for bTB is, and always has been, the cattle themselves - and that's where the real solutions begin. more...
Why did the badger cross the road? Maybe to get away from an Environment Secretary on a personal mission of death and destruction to Britain's wildlife. Photo: Badger in the Quantock Hills of Somerset by Mark Robinson via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Truss's decision: badger culling will continue, with no evidence it works

Lesley Docksey

5th January 2015

Sneaked out shortly before MP's Christmas recess, the Government's decision to 'carry on culling' badgers with no evidence that the slaughter is reducing the incidence of bovine TB is a travesty of process, writes Lesley Docksey. But it does have one useful outcome - it has exposed Defra's claims that the cull is 'science-led' as arrant nonsense. Science never even got a look in. more...
Badger at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

So badger culls are working? Liz Truss, produce your evidence!

Oliver Tickell

18th December 2015

Environment Secretary Liz Truss told Parliament yesterday that England's badger cull is 'working', and needs to be extended into new areas, writes Oliver Tickell. Yet she and the NFU have refused to release the evidence to back up her claims. Now MPs and NGOs are joining the cry: 'publish or be damned!' more...
Soil is where our food comes from - so why don't we look after it as well as organic farmers? Photo: Soil Association.

It's time to celebrate and protect the soils that feed us!

Peter Melchett

4th December 2015

Almost all our food is grown in soil, writes Peter Melchett. Yet we are treating it like dirt: spraying it with toxic chemicals, depleting vital nutrients, and releasing its carbon to add to climate change. With World Soils Day coming up tomorrow, let's change our ways - and renew our commitment to organic food and farming. more...
Free range, grass fed cattle in the Derbyshire uplands. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA)

The scientific case for badger culling - an organic farmer writes

Charles Mann

9th April 2015

Organic farmer Charles Mann, aroused by The Ecologist's anti-cull stance, makes an evidence-based case for culling badgers in areas of high TB incidence - together with other measures including enhanced testing in apparently 'low risk' areas that present a high risk of disease spread. more...
The voice of the people? Protester on the People's Assembly March Against Austerity 2014. Photo: The Weekly Bull via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Will the badger cull cost the Tories the election? It certainly should!

Dominic Dyer

16th March 2015

David Cameron has called the badger cull is 'probably the most unpopular policy for which I am responsible', writes Dominic Dyer. But unable to break his pledge to landowners and the NFU, he has left Environment Secretary Liz Truss to fudge the issue until election time. Electorally fatal? So events may prove. more...
Photo: Badgers in the wild by Tim Brookes via Flickr.

2014 badger cull failed - but the cull goes on

Oliver Tickell

18th December 2014

England's 2014 badger cull has failed to meet key targets for effectiveness with such low numbers of animals shot that TB spread is likely to be increased. But Defra boss Liz Truss insists the cull will go on regardless. more...
What’s for dinner? Crocodile and antelope. CIFOR, CC BY-NC-ND.

Take bushmeat off the menu before humans are served another ebola

Robert Young

14th October 2014

Ebola and many other diseases have their origin in wild animals, writes Robert Young. The biggest opportunities for infection arises when people hunt and eat diseased animals, exposing themselves to their viruses and bacteria. To keep 'other ebolas' at bay, we must put an end to the bushmeat trade. more...

natural health: 1/25 of 110
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The secret of healthy food is healthy soil - as with these organic potatoes bursting from the ground in early June this year at Sandy lane Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: Sandy Lane Farm.

For healthy food we need living, organic soils

Hannah Bewsey & Katherine Paul / OCA

9th October 2014

Soils are naturally alive with complex 'food webs' of micro-organisms that sustain plants with moisture and nutrients, making them good to eat. But once the biota have been blitzed with agro-chemicals under industrial farming regimes, it's our health that suffers. One more reason to grow, and eat, organic! more...
Badger seen at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr.

Labour will tackle bovine TB - without the mass killing of badgers

Huw Irranca-Davies

18th September 2014

Speaking in Stroud this week, Huw Irrancas-Davies MP delivered a withering attack on the Government's badger cull policy - and firmly committed a future Labour government to ending the badger cull, using measures to control bovine TB that are safe, effective, and humane. more...
Who drank all the water? Dried out 'swamp' just NE of the Everglades National Park, Miami County, Florida. Photo: A Duarte via Flickr.

Florida's sugar barons grow fat on subsidies, diabetes and Everglades destruction

Alan Farago

1st September 2014

Big Sugar is the new Big Tobacco, writes Alan Farago - lethal to human health, wreaking environmental devastation, gouging huge public subsidies, and with the political clout to stop First Lady Michelle Obama from breathing a word against it. Only an alliance of 'green', health and taxpayer campaigners can kill the beast. more...
A mother badger with three cubs to feed looks for food in garden in rural Dorset. Photo: Lesley Docksey.

Carry on Culling - the fiasco continues

Lesley Docksey

28th July 2014

'We need to look at the best scientific evidence' on badgers and bovine TB, says Environment Secretary Liz Truss. But as Lesley Docksey writes, the 'best scientific evidence' appears to mean only that which supports the cull - and there's precious little of it! more...
The social structure of badger families is perturbed by the loss of a single member, and this can cause the spread of any TB they may be harbouring. Photo: Tim Brookes via Flickr.

Badger Trust's High Court cull challenge

The Ecologist

21st July 2014

The Badger Trust will challenge the trial badger culls in the High Court next month, claiming that Environment Secretary Liz Truss and Natural England are acting unlawfully in failing to appoint an expert panel to oversee the experiment. more...
Some 90 miles off the Sao Paulo coast, Ilha da Queimada Grande looks very pretty from far away. But up close, it's terrifying. Photo: Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaém.

Great snakes! Football fans, explore at your peril

Natasha Geiling

15th July 2014

Brazil's Ilha de Queimada Grande is the only home of one of the world's deadliest, and most endangered, snakes, writes Natasha Geiling. Just the place for Brazil's disgraced football team to escape the wrath of furious fans, if they can only get a permit ... more...
These cows on the Kerry Ridgeway in Wales are subject to annual TB testing - key to halving TB incidence over 5 years. Photo: John Clift via Flickr.

Bovine TB - biosecurity works, new Defra figures show

Lesley Docksey

18th June 2014

With the 6th International Conference on Bovine TB under way today in Cardiff, Lesley Docksey reports on Defra's latest statistics. BTB in England is falling - and it's falling fastest where the strongest biosecurity measures are in place, confirming the experience of Wales and Scotland. more...
The social structure of badger families is perturbed by the loss of a single member, and this can cause the spread of any TB they may be harbouring. Photo: Tim Brookes via Flickr.

HSI calls on farmers - 'go badger-friendly' to control bovine TB

Lesley Docksey

10th June 2014

Following new research showing that even culling a single badger from a family can cause a 'perturbation' that spreads TB, a new call has gone out on farmers to give up on culling, and 'go badger friendly' to control the disease. more...
A badger struggles to avoid drowning in the flooded river Saale, 2011. Photo: Margrit via

Cull could put flood-struck badgers 'at risk of local extinction'

The Ecologist

2nd June 2014

Following last winter's severe flooding in SW England, the Government has refused to assess how badly badgers suffered - even though local populations could have crashed. If the cull goes ahead, badgers could be wiped out of some areas altogether. more...
English badgers out in the early evening. Photo: Hugh Warwick /

Britain's vets - it's time to oppose the badger cull!

Lesley Docksey

28th April 2014

You would think vets would take animal welfare seriously, writes Lesley Docksey. So why does the British Veterinary Association (BVA) support England's badger cull - when all the science is telling them it's both cruel, and ineffective against Bovine TB? more...
'Wild Food - a complete guide for foragers' by Roger Phillips - front cover.

The gastronomy of wild food

Humphrey Birley

30th April 2014

Eating wild plants and mushrooms is a pleasure we should all indulge in, believes open air gastronomist Humphrey Birley - and this new edition of 'Wild Food : a complete guide for foragers' is just what's needed to get us exploring woods, hedgerows, meadows and salt marshes in search of edible delicacies. more...
Contented cow at Three Cliffs Bay, Penmaen (near Swansea), South Wales. Photo: Mélanie via

How Wales is defeating bovine TB without killing badgers

Jan Bayley

14th April 2014

Wales has an enviable record of declining BTB in cattle - without having to kill a single badger. Jan Bayley explains how Wales's combination of frequent testing and exacting biosecurity has succeeded - and how England can learn from Wales's experience. more...
Brian May on a badger cull protest outside Parliament, 1st June 2013. Photo: Brian Minkoff - London Pixels / Wikimedia Commons.

Brian May - from rock star to badger champion

Lesley Docksey

10th March 2014

Brian May is best known as lead guitarist for the rock band Queen. But as Lesley Docksey discovers, he is also an astrophysicist, and a committed - and highly effective - advocate for Britain's wild animals, including badgers put at risk by England's cull programme. more...


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