Saturday, 1 December 2012

215: The Killings at Badgers Drift

It all started with an innocent cull and ended up in annihilation.  They said it was necessary for public health, to protect the people.  Apparently those black and white critters could carry tuberculosis and give it to the cows and the cows could give it to the people.

The people all said ‘kill the badgers, save us from TB’ and they did.  They killed a few then a few more and then all of the badgers.  Nobody noticed there were no more badgers left until it was too late.  The badger became extinct in 2014.  Not even zoos were allowed to keep one as an example of an endangered species.

But there was still TB long after the last badger was gone, so they said the badgers had passed it on to too many cows.  So the cows were next.  Cows were easier than the badgers because they don’t roam the woods and hide in the trees.  The cows had to just wait until they came to kill them.  Then they were burnt in pyres, legs with hoofed feet higgledy piggledy in a pile.  The people weren’t allowed to eat cows any more but only a small number really minded.  There were so many other animals left to eat.

And the TB?  That was still there, infecting the people, so they demanded more action to find out why.  Which other animal might be infecting them now?  Reverse Noah’s Ark methods were used, slaying a few of every animal and looking for TB in their dead bodies.  Those that showed any trace condemned their entire breed to an immediate destruction order.  Scores of animals were sent into extinction without further consideration.

They hadn’t realized what would happen if so many species were killed off.  Natural predators were removed, normal food stocks were depleted and the proper order of the food chain was disrupted.  Some species did not host TB.  Some hosted much more deadly things.  And those more deadly things were able to return.  Things that made TB look almost desirable by comparison.

It was the plague that caused the most destruction.  The people had never been exposed to it so they had no natural immunity and no chance against it.  Some survived for a while, but ultimately everyone who caught it died.  Mostly they died in horrible ways and there was no treatment and no cure, not like there had been for TB.

Other animals succumbed to the plague too, leaving rotting, infected carcases littered across the countryside.  The people were too scared to move them or too ill to.  The people called for help but they could not help.  They only knew how to cause this, not how to remedy this.  This was no Hollywood blockbuster and there would be no hero scientist with an estranged son they could call upon for a rescue.  This was real and they caused it.

They tried to find a traditional cure, create a vaccine but there was no species they could find that was immune.  All testing led to frustration and failure.  Whenever it looked like progress was being made, the infectious agent morphed and mutated so it could out-manoeuvre science yet again.

Within a generation, most of mankind had died out.  It was expected that within the following generation it would be almost gone.  There might not be another generation after that.  And somehow TB came back too attacking weakened the people with more virulence than ever before.  Those with both TB and the plague died within hours and in the end there were no people left at all, not even them.

Allowing the killings of badgers to drift into the slaughter of entire species led to the end of the human race.  Shouldn’t they have known something like that might happen?

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