Thursday, March 8, 2012
GRAVE ROBBING BADGERS
Really, there are some post titles that can only be in ALL CAPS.
We've seen before that animals have no respect for the sacred eternal resting places of our human dead, with crows stealing candles from a cemetery and squirrels stealing Memorial Day flags of the graves of soldiers. And of course this blog is an endless chronicle of humans enabling bad animal behavior by making excuses and refusing to stand up to it.
These two themes come together in a particularly gruesome fashion in Britain, where badgers are actually digging up human skeletons - and apparently there is nothing that can be done to stop them.
One cemetery that has the problem, in Swindon, opened in 1881 and is the final resting place of 33,000 people including 100 soldiers who fought in World War I. Another, in a churchyard in the village of Long Clawson, dates back to the 12th century, and stopped taking new burials in the early 1900s because it was full.
In both places, bodies are now being disturbed by badgers digging tunnels. Earlier this year someone noted a skull and a bone on the ground in the Long Clawson churchyard, and it's been going on for even longer in Swindon, according to a source: "Two or three years ago I received a phone call from a distressed person to say vandals had struck," he said. “I visited the cemetery to see the grass completely torn up. I have never seen it so bad. It wasn’t vandals but the very cute badgers.”
The animals have continued to bring pieces of skeletons to the surface, and because of conservation laws there's nothing that can legally be done to stop the desecration. The Protection of Badgers Act, passed in 1992, makes it illegal to interfere with their activities, at the risk of a sentence of six months in jail.
The reverend of the church has been unable to get a permit to relocate the badgers, and the law prevents him from even re-burying the bones in their original places because it would disturb their tunnels. "I have been told to carry out a monthly bone patrol, collect them all up and re-inter them in a new grave," he said.
The reverend blames the people more than the animals: "It lacks any common sense but sadly reflects the bureaucracy of modern life." True, but if it weren't for the badgers' bad behavior, there wouldn't be a problem in the first place. There's plenty of blame to spread around here, so let's not let either species off the hook.
Badger trying to convince you it's a cute sweet thing that likes to smell flowers by Flickr user Tatterdemalion.