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The UK Government has today revealed plans to microchip walkers in a bid to cut down on the time it takes to return lost hikers to their families. The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP, told us that

The number of walkers becoming disorientated and lost is on the increase. When they are found, many of the lost walkers are dazed, confused and have no idea where they are, they are often suffering from amnesia. Reuniting them with their families takes time and uses up resources.

Studies have shown that walkers can easily lose their way when out on the hills and up mountains. This may be down to poor navigational skills and a lack of experience in using a map and compass. Sometimes bad weather closes in, reducing visibility. One of the most common scenarios is when walkers come off a mountain on the wrong side of the valley and are unaware that they have made a mistake. In many cases the lost walkers have compounded the problem by drinking excessive quantities of real ale or scrumpy in traditional pubs that are frequently found in countryside.

Microchips will be implanted into Walkers.

Microchips will be implanted into walkers. The microchips used will be smaller than those shown above. Source: Flickr by Gaetan Lee.

Microchipping Walkers

The government’s plan is to microchip walkers so that they can easily be identified and returned home. The scheme will be voluntary, so if you know that you are susceptible to getting lost you can apply for a free microchip. The microchip will be implanted into your neck, in the same way that pets are routinely microchipped these days.

Walkers Say Get Lost!

Walker and Human Rights groups have slammed the idea as another way in which the government is trying to control our lives. A representative from the pressure group Walking & Hiking In Freedom (WHIF), who wishes to remain anonymous was outraged:

First its ID cards, now its microchipping! This won’t stop with walkers and hikers, the government will want us all microchipped, you’ll see. And they’ll make us pay for the privilege!

The government denies that they have plans to make the scheme compulsory to walkers or to the general public. They also maintain that a mandatory fee will not be applied to walkers who wish to be microchipped.

Cats can jump a long way and they easily become lost. Source Flickr by Gail S

A black and white similar to Kofi, who became lost. Source: Flickr by Gail S

Lost Cat Returned After 3 Years

It seems that microchipping is not all bad, however. A lost cat which has been missing for three and a half years has been found and reunited with its owner because of a microchip.

Kofi the missing cat was last seen in Nottingham in 2005. The cute black and white moggie who turned up in Ipswich, Suffolk, on April 6th 2009, was identified by his microchip.

Have Your Say!
Should Walkers be Microchipped?

What do you think? Is it a good idea?

Do you go out walking, get lost and find yourself not knowing who and where you are? Would you benefit from being microchipped?

Or are you a walker who thinks that this is an attack on our civil liberties? Do you think that the government is planning to microchip the general public?

Let us know using the “comments” link below.

Useful Tools to Help Avoid Getting Lost

Nothing can beat good map reading technique and experience. There are useful on-line mapping tools that are worth looking at before you go out walking, but you should always take a map and compass with you when you go out walking. And maybe go easy on the real ale and cider. 😉

You could easily become lost walking across featureless moorland.

You could easily become lost walking across featureless moorland. Source Flickr by Binary Ape.

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