Yesterday the Badger Trust lost its court appeal against the Government’s decision to cull thousands of badgers in England to halt the spread of Bovine TB. This rally of “Team Badger” organised by the RSPCA, the League Against Cruel Sports, the Humane Society and headed by Queen guitarist Brian May, was an important platform to present their opposition campaign and to explain more about the science behind it the subject.
In an effort to control Bovine TB, this Government has decided that the cruel slaughter of our precious wildlife must go ahead, despite the doubts behind the effectiveness of this policy and the strong resistance against it. Badgers are hard to kill but easy to wound and the marksmen and farmers currently being licensed to exterminate them will chiefly succeed in maiming and wounding these animals leading to a slow and painful death, not the humane death that the Government claims will happen.
Joe Duckworth from the League Against Cruel Sports introduced the speakers which included an impassioned speech by Gavin Grant, Chief Executive of the RSPCA and Steve Jones a farmer and herdsman. I found Steve’s talk useful and informative, after all I know nothing about farming, but his proposal of better animal husbandry, mainly in the areas of stricter water and food hygiene, better ventilation, prompt quarantine of infected animals and reduction in the stress levels of herds all made perfect sense. His support for the cause was un-wavering despite him receiving threats and abuse from other members of the farming community. And figures from the Independent Scientific Group re-inforce his views as they show that in 2009 and 2010 a 15% reduction in bTB was achieved by improved testing and movement controls and better husbandary. This is without any badgers being killed
We were told that Bovine TB effects about 4% of the cows in England, yet because of this, our Government is sentencing thousands of innocent badgers to death. Culls have been rejected by Wales, parts of Northern Ireland and the National Trust and they are turning instead to vaccinating their badgers. Vaccination of cows could be more extensively used once the new Deva test makes it easier to distinguish between a cow with TB and a cow that’s been vaccinated against the disease. Could it be an unwillingness of behalf of the Government to fund these programmes that has led to their decision? Could it be that shooting badgers is a cheaper option and one that may pacify an already disgruntled group of dairy farmers? Are these beautiful creatures being used as scapegoats?
In fact, the science shows that culling badgers could make the problem worse as this will lead to great migration in badgers and therefore spreading any disease further. So if you care about the beautiful wildlife in this country, I ask you to join with the thousands of other voices that are saying “not in my name” and has the backing of Sir David Attenborough, Joanna Lumley, Alan Titchmarsh, George Monbiot, Gilly Cooper and Virginia McKenna. And don’t forget to look out for National Badger Day on Saturday 6th October 2012.