The Fate of the Badger by Dr Richard Meyer - 30th anniversary edition


The Fate of the Badger - covers of the original and 30th anniversary editions


What Richard says in this new edition…

"One [ministry pronouncement], asserting that the CP [Consultative Panel] plays a major role in allowing us to demonstrate that all shades of opinion on badgers have been taken into account before we kill them is chilling. I hope it was written by someone with a sense of humour."

"... badgers and hedgehogs have co-existed for millennia – it is humans who screw up the environment."

"Economics' tragically is the key word, not science."

"I believe that if farmers were better businessmen they'd see right through Defra."

"To the cattle industry in this country, badgers are a calamitously expensive and tragic red herring... a digression, an aberration and massively irrelevant."

"While there is nothing wrong with sentiment as a civilising force, this is not about sentiment. My stance would be exactly the same if we were talking about Brock's less engaging relatives, the stoat or weasel."

What others say about this new edition…

"Your badger books will be with me always" Pam Stange, Australia

"Richard has a penetrating insight into the development of this country's policy of bovine TB management having been closely involved, sometimes at a personal level, for more than three decades." Dr Chris Cheeseman 

"The first 2 paragraphs of the introduction told me this is a man after my own heart." Lesley Docksey

"Incisive & heartbreakingly sad read on the tragic route to current badger cull. A must read." Catherine Langton


"Thanks for exposing the truth behind badger cull. Bravo!" Paul Smith

“I particularly liked Mike Rendle's view in "Fate" that in Eire, 2012 a cull of 6939 badgers at a cost of €3.4 million, had no effect on cattle TB, just 55 reactors fewer than 2011 ... so culling badgers doesn't work !" Martin Hancox


Because of the government sponsored slaughter of badgers here is: 

The Fate of the Badger newly told
Grisly exhumations 30 years old



The Fate of The Badger New 30th Anniversary Edition by Dr Richard Meyer

If you have not read the new edition, you might be unaware that my conclusion in 1984-5 is the same now; this strikes us all as completely unbelievable. There was no evidence then that badgers spread bTB to cattle, and there has been no evidence since. In the original edition (on the left below) and in the new one (right) I’ve tried to explain the story in a stimulating and interesting way without shying away from the brutal illegal killing and the insane politics.

From Chapter 10, 'The Politics of Science' (p.93) "Will some farmers be satisfied with anything less than the scalp of the badger now that it has been sold to them as the villain for so long?" [Is it credible I wrote these words over 30 years ago?]

  • So 1971 turned out to be quite a year
  • September: my first published drawing of a Badger (above) appeared in 'The Lady' magazine
  • September: got married in Cornwall
  • April: first tuberculous badger found in Gloucestershire
  • May: Don McLean wrote these lines for his great song about Vincent van Gogh - an inspiration to me throughout my life - which includes the lines:
They would not listen,
They did not know how,
Perhaps they'll listen now.
  • then...
  • 15 years later The Fate of the Badger was published by Batsford 
  • 30 years on, Fire Raven Writing ( reprinted it with new material revealing its relevance today
  • Dominic Dyer, CEO of The Badger Trust wrote:
"Every key issue in Richard’s book is as relevant today as when he put pen to paper 30 years ago. If our political leaders and the farming industry had taken note of Richard’s wise insight, today we would not be seeing tens of millions of pounds wasted on killing mostly TB free badgers, in a cruel culling policy which has no scientific or animal welfare justification."


So, if you haven't read it or you've forgotten because it was SO long ago, here's the first in a series of mini extracts to show just how little has changed in 40 odd years. Only the bigotry of our politicians and farming leaders has hardened.

From Chapter 8, 'Badger in the tongs' (p.65) "...a largely inoffensive animal that just happens to be of manifest size."

"... Some MAFF* trappers were recruited from uncertain backgrounds soon after digging was outlawed: gassing badgers was not a job dramatically to reduce the dole queues. Rural cowboys who once pursued the badger for pleasure now possibly had the chance of doing it full-time, on taxpayers’ money and behind a crown insignia."

* MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food) before Defra.

NB: I hope to exhume more extracts from time to time to show the ineptitude of successive governments' policies and underline how little has changed.