Rootling

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Badger rootling in permanent pasture

I can hardly resist a brief note to record the damage caused by badgers on a few of our fields during the last month. In foraging and rootling for worms, they’ve turned over some big patches of turf in several places across the hill. If you were to add all these patches together (as you might during an IACS assessment), this damage probably runs to around an acre of land that has been converted to bare or grubbed-up soil.

You could say that all is fair in love and war, and that badgers are entitled to grub away as they please. It’s a point of near indifference to me since I plan to plough this particular field (pictured) and put it under a break crop of rape next year before reseeding, but it does raise some interesting parallels with the damage caused by wild boar.

I’ve seen plenty of wild boar rootling over the last few years, and while perhaps it’s more dramatic, it’s so sporadic that it might only happen once every eighteen months. Badgers are a good deal more persistent in their digging, and they seem to work the same patches again and again for weeks. So if you were to ask me which does more harm overall, I’d be hard pressed to give you an answer.

And the comparison is interesting because “agricultural damage” has been given as a justification for the proposed eradication of wild boar in this part of Galloway. It seems that we’re prepared to tolerate this kind of impact from badgers, but boar do not deserve even the slightest leeway or tolerance.

I’m a wild boar enthusiast, and there’s a fair place in my heart for badgers – but it’s an interesting little wrinkle to think about how we react differently to two species who are effectively doing the same thing.

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