Badger culling will be tried out in two areas of England early next year in an attempt to tackle bovine tuberculosis in cattle.
Care2′s Megan Drake wrote here about the battle against badgers that has been going on for some time. The issue is an increase in the incidence of TB in cattle. Since badgers are known to spread the disease to cattle herds, these cute black-and-white creatures have become a target for extinction.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said a decision would be made after the trials in yet-to-be-decided locations on extending it across the country.
“A Great Strength Of Feeling On The Issue”
From the BBC:
“Evidence shows that unless we tackle the disease in badgers we’ll never eradicate it in cattle”, she told MPs. “We need to stop it spreading, bring it under control and eradicate it.”
Mrs Spelman said she knew there was “a great strength of feeling on the issue” and realised how much opposition there was to a cull, but action had to be taken before the situation got worse.
“We can’t escape the fact that the evidence supports the case for the controlled reduction of the badger population in the areas affected by bovine TB,” she said.
“The impacts of this terrible disease also show us that we need to act now. We cannot keep delaying. Having listened to all sides of the debate, I believe that this approach is the right one to make.”
Government Hopes Badger Cull Will Lead To 16% Reduction In Bovine TB
Spelman told the House of Commons that nearly 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year because of bovine TB, and over the next 10 years the cost to the taxpayer was set to reach £1bn.
The government hopes the cull will lead to a 16% reduction in bovine TB.
Predictably, the National Farmers’ Union President, Peter Kendall, said he commended the government’s decision. The job of his union is to protect cattle, who provide profit for their members, while of course wild badgers don’t have a union to protect them.
Others Disagree Vehemently With The Environment Secretary’s Decision.
Opponents argue that the government is deciding to support a badger cull is cruel and unnecessary, when this has not been proven as an effective method to deal with bovine TB.
As first reported by the BBC, Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “A badger cull is the wrong tool to address this serious and complex problem and a distraction from other measures to tackle bovine TB. An industry-led cull with open shooting in the countryside is untested and these pilots will not provide a scientific evaluation of the impact on bovine TB. The government’s priority should be preventing transmission of the disease on-farm, through improved biosecurity, badger vaccination and making swift progress on a cattle vaccine.”
“Badger Culling Can Make No Meaningful Contribution To Cattle TB Control”
And the long term UK study, Randomized Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) performed between 1998 and 2007 concluded:
“First, while badgers are clearly a source of cattle TB, careful evaluation of our own and others’ data indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain. Indeed, some policies under consideration are likely to make matters worse rather than better. Second, weaknesses in cattle testing regimes mean that cattle themselves contribute significantly to the persistence and spread of disease in all areas where TB occurs, and in some parts of Britain are likely to be the main source of infection. Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed and geographical spread contained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone.”
That sounds like a definitive conclusion that badger culling is an not only ineffective, but also cruel and unnecessary, as a tool to eradicate bovine TB.
Opposition Groups Set To Challenge The Decision
Opposition groups claim to have gathered 100,000 signatures for petitions opposing the policy, and plans have been announced to mount a legal challenge.
Included in these are almost 25,000 Care2 signatures. If you care about saving these innocent animals, please click here to sign our petition asking British Prime Minister David Cameron to save these badgers from slaughter.
Photo Credit: asbimages.co.uk