An open letter to Jeremy Clarkson after he declares his ‘new nemesis’ is badgers

Badger Trust calls out Clarkson for shocking misunderstanding of a serious cattle disease and absolute derision for the plight of badgers

Badger Trust has written an open letter to Jeremy Clarkson, ex Top Gear presenter, ‘celebrity’ and now new-found farmer, after an article in the Guardian in which he displayed a shocking misunderstanding of a serious cattle disease, absolute derision for the plight of badgers, and a declaration that this protected wild animal is his ‘new nemesis.’

The article’s opening paragraph states: Over early morning coffee at his Oxfordshire farmhouse, Jeremy Clarkson is talking about his new nemesis, badgers, and the fact that they constantly urinate, usually on his grass. “If they’ve got TB and a cow eats that bit of grass, then you, the taxpayer, pay for that cow to be killed. A quarter of the world’s badgers live in the UK, causing chaos. But if you say, ‘I’m going to shoot a badger’, you can expect to find your house on fire within 10 minutes. Carrie Johnson is a badger enthusiast, so the government aren’t likely to do anything while she’s running around.”

Badger Trust’s Acting Executive Director, Dawn Varley, stated: ‘Many of our supporters alerted us to this offensive diatribe.

Badger Trust, as the voice for badgers in England and Wales, is pushing back at yet another attempt to make badgers the scapegoats for bovine TB, even though 94% of cattle infections are from cow to cow.

We know that being outrageous and offensive is part of what Jeremy does, but to find amusement in the ongoing senseless slaughter of badgers is a new low.’

She continued: ‘No doubt he will be delighted to have annoyed the animal-loving public, but the continuing demonisation of this iconic mammal is unacceptable and needs calling out. Our open letter to him does just that.

Grow up Jeremy – educate yourself and try to coexist with nature whilst we still have it.’

Dear Jeremy

We write in response to your interview with the Guardian, published on Tuesday, 16th November 2021. In this interview, you make a number of incorrect, and some outright offensive, statements that need addressing. You state that ‘badgers constantly urinate’ (they don’t), that a quarter of the world’s badgers live in the UK (there are several different types of ‘world’ badgers, ours is the European badger, meles meles, with around half in the UK, but nobody is really sure on the numbers, so no, that’s not right), and that they ‘cause chaos’ (when was the last time you saw a badger ‘causing chaos’? Or just saw a live badger, for that matter?). You blame badgers for the spread of ‘TB’ (it’s bTB – bovine tuberculosis, a respiratory disease mainly affecting cattle) and state confidently that the ‘government aren’t likely to do anything’ about this whilst Carrie Johnson, a ‘badger enthusiast’, is around.

Where to begin? The Government, which has been culling badgers since 2013, and with plans to continue mass culling until 2025, are certainly doing something. 143,000 badgers have already been killed to date, with a further 140,000 slated – and for what benefit to cattle? Certainly not impact on the control of bTB. Forget about a badger urinating in a field, what about a herd of cows doing that and more, consistently. And when that herd has to be culled due to an outbreak the new herd are (wait for it) – put back into the same field, complete with bTB loaded ground. Disease controls focused on cattle, and improved farm bio-security would go a lot further than continuing to kill badgers for a problem they are not responsible for. Your understanding and reasoning are, pardon the pun, ‘piss poor’ we think here.

What actually is outrageous is that badgers continue to be the starting point of blame in a seriously misguided attempt to control bTB which, as the name suggests, is a disease in cattle. The continuing and relentless Government cull means the UK will lose half of a ‘protected’ population of badgers at a time when our respect for nature and wish for ecological harmony is supposed to be at record levels. Unless you happen to be a badger.

Badger Trust exists as a charity focused on the protection, conservation and welfare of badgers solely because the animal has suffered centuries of persecution – to the point of needing its own legislation. Not that this does it much good when the Government wants to scapegoat it for a disease it has little to do with, and with people like you who feel the need to invent a ‘nemesis’ out of a wild animal. How sad, both for you, and for the badgers who have already paid the price of a selective disregard for wildlife due to a fake solution for what is ultimately a political problem. Or for a tv celebrity seemingly desperate to find a new angle on an old shtick routine.