Renewed badger cull meets with anger from welfare groups

Animal welfare and wildlife protection groups have reacted with “sadness and anger” to the re-start of the badger cull, which is now underway.

While plans to roll out the culls nationwide have been shelved, the government committed to a further two years of culling in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

A Care for the Wild statement expressed its disappointment at the continuation of the cull “despite huge question marks over the effectiveness and humaneness of the 2013 pilot culls from its own Independent Scientific Advisory Committee and from the Chief Scientific Advisor at Natural England, who has called the policy an ‘epic failure’”.  

Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said: “This is a triumph of politics, pride and persecution over common sense and science. Potentially, almost 2,000 badgers could die – that’s more than last year – and for what? These culls are ill-conceived and incompetently managed, and will contribute nothing to reducing bTB in cattle. Here we have a government and the National Farmers’ Union pushing ahead with a policy simply because they don’t have the guts to admit that it is wrong, and a complete and utter disaster for the farming industry, tax-payer and the protection of our native wildlife.”

The Badger Trust applied for a judicial review to challenge the legality of Defra’s decision to continue the badger cull, which the organisation said had now failed.

Dyer added: “The same discredited arguments are being wheeled out. They say no country has beaten bTB without culling wildlife – not true, the UK did it in the 1960s and 1970s. They say falling bTB rates in Ireland show that culling works – but the same reduction has been achieved in Northern Ireland without any culling. They say that ‘closed’ herds are being infected, so it can only be the badgers spreading the disease – but the bTB skin test misses 20% of infected cows, meaning they never know for sure that a herd isn’t hiding a sick cow.

“To cap it all, the chief veterinary officer for Wales told the Badger Trust Conference recently that, in the past five years, the Welsh Government has achieved a 48% drop in the number of cattle slaughtered due to bTB, purely by increasing the amount of testing and thus ensuring sick cattle are less likely to be moved around. The answer to this mess is self-evident – focus on the cattle - but the government is too stubborn to back down.”

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