by Paul Cormacain
SOMEONE has brought to my attention, the legal position of badgers.
The Wildlife Order of 1985 has plenty to say about many aspects of wildlife, some of which I had not known previously. Did you know that red squirrels and grey seals are protected at all time? If you play around with those names you could come up with the name !grey up and it has to be recorded that the grey is not a protected species.
The grey is an introduced north American species, thrives here and has a high profile. The red is shy and retiring. Now no one has ever proved that the grey squirrel drives out the red, and indeed many experts are unsure whether this is a true proposition or not. The fact remains that the reds are seldom seen, and if you see a squirrel, chances are that it is a grey.
Perhaps because of this the red gets protection, the grey squirrel gets no protection.
Perhaps slightly like the cow getting protection, and shoot the badgers. While looking at a copy of the Wildlife Order, I was fascinated to see that newts are protected. I can remember one of the children bringing home newts from a sheugh near his school. Must tell him about that, now that he is a barrister. You are not allowed to interfere with lizards, those seldom-seen creatures that only appear in warm sunshine among the heather, sometime in the fields.
Seven types of butterflies are protected, including the small and holly blue. It was my (incorrect) opinion that one was not allowed to interfere with any butterfly.
What is head of the list of animals that are protected at all times? None other than Meles meles, the good old badger which spreads bovine TB. Or in fact does not spread bovine TB.
So that is the legal situation. Under law, the badger is an animal which
is to be protected
at all times. So let there be no mistake about that!
Have you noticed that the larks are still singing their heads off? Every spring, a walk in the fields will reveal a wealth of sound as this delightful male bird sings to attract a lady friend. But spring is now past, yet the lark is as noisy as ever,
My wife says that the larks, who are perhaps even more noisy than in the spring, are singing because they are happy. She is probably correct. The official explanation of the larks' songs in the summer is that they are singing to defend territory, they don't want other larks to intrude.
Soon, the larks will fall nearly silent. We shall miss them. But the occasional bird will rise to the occasion, rise high into the air, and sing. And we shall be glad.
Sundays until August 31: Coney Island Boat Trips, contact Lough Neagh Discovery Centre for more details, phone 028 3832 2205.
Until Thursday, July 31: Wetlands Olympics at Castle Espie, phone 028 9187 4146 for more information.