Post-Netherlands Backpacking Trip

Getting Involved Locally

In my previous post, I wrote about the need to establish a routine while traveling, to find some sort of purpose in my days.

The way that I choose to travel greatly aids me in this effort. Instead of bouncing around from hostel to hostel, I use hospitality sites as my primary means of accommodation. I’m temporarily adopted into an individual’s or family’s home, lending insight into how they live. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the wealth of castles and cathedrals to visit, I travel much more slowly. I still many of these attractions, but at a more leisurely pace. I become an honorary member of the city – being shown the best pubs, scenic spots, and local events.

I’m eternally grateful to my wonderful hosts, who open up their homes to me, expecting nothing in return. I always learn something new. And occasionally, I’ll be given an inside look into their beliefs and passions. I’ll be introduced to causes that I wouldn’t know of otherwise.

Such was the case in Taunton, England. I met Michelle and Paul, a wonderful couple who picked me up at a train station on the way to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.

Fiesta of Balloons!

During the drive to Bristol, Michelle told me a bit about the imminent threat to badgers in England. The government voted to implement a badger cull, which allows those with a license to kill badgers. Michelle and others in the community are against the cull.

As far as I can understand, badgers are being killed because some have bovine tuberculosis, which can spread cows in the region. Farmers are understandably concerned, as it poses a threat to their cattle, and therefore their livelihoods. And the proposed solution to this problem is to exterminate the badgers.

However, research has shown that the badger cull will not work, and may in fact increase the spread of bovine TB. This disease affects a minimal part of the badger population, roughly 11%. And there’s a vaccine available. Wales, in contrast to England, will be vaccinating badgers instead of instituting a nation-wide call to kill them.

History has shown time and again (think Australia) that radical interventions in wildlife populations spur chain reactions, repercussions for a later generation.

And rather than listen to the scientific research (commissioned by the government), use the available vaccine, or respect the sanctity of animal life; the government has decided it is their place to encourage the killing of an entire species.

While visiting Taunton, I joined Somerset Badger Patrol on one of their walks through the country. The idea is to have a presence in the communities that will be affected by the badger cull. These peaceful walks yield an opportunity for dialogue – to discuss the feasibility and the possible dangers of a badger cull.

The view's not bad, either.

The view’s not bad, either.

Volunteering is one thing I really miss from home – I think of my local Amnesty International chapter, the kids from HANDS, and the City Heights Farmers’ Market. Whenever given the opportunity to volunteer for a worthy cause abroad, I jump at it. It allows me to learn so much more about my hosts and their surrounding communities.

I concede that I don’t know everything about the badger cull. But from the research I’ve done, it doesn’t seem to make sense from an economic, scientific, or ethical point of view.

A horse showing its support for badgers.

A horse showing its support for badgers.

For more information about the badger cull, I highly recommend this youtube video.

This website provides some context for the badger cull, and this article reveals some of the political motivations behind the parliamentary vote.

You can also ‘like’ Somerset Badger Patrol on facebook to show your support. As always, comments are encouraged.

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One thought on “Getting Involved Locally

  1. Pingback: Day 3: Travel Style | Wander. Learn. Repeat.

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