British badgers will be sent to serve with UK forces in Iraq under plans unveiled jointly by the Ministry of Defence and DEFRA today.
For some time Britain has been seeking a credible exit strategy that would allow troops to return home without accusations that the British government was abandoning the war-torn region. It is hoped that a token presence of British nocturnal carnivores would go some way towards countering allegations of ‘cut and run’, while simultaneously mollifying UK farmers demand for action against badgers back at home.
‘British badgers will play their part in supporting American and Iraqi forces in establishing the fragile democracy in Baghdad’ said an government spokesman yesterday. ‘As we are now handing over control of the country to the Iraqi people, the badgers duties will not extend to flying reconnaissance missions, driving armoured vehicles or guarding key installations. Their role will be more focused on scurrying around at night snuffling out worms and stag beetles.’
Animal rights protestors immediately accused the government of caving in to farmers’ demands for a badger cull, which the dairy industry says is needed to prevent the spread on TB in cattle. ‘This is just a cull by the back door,’ said a tearful Annette Crowley founder of Badger-Watch UK. The furry stripy-nosed badgers are not being given a choice about this tour of duty and no date has been set for the badger’s return.’
However government polling has established the badgers would not be particularly missed, with 93% of Britons never actually having seen a badger except squashed ones on the road.
DEFRA had previously dismissed an offer from the Countryside Alliance to hunt the badgers if they were dressed up in little fox costumes.