Tomorrow (Wednesday, 8 December) is the deadline for submissions to the public consultation led by the UK government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on its proposed cull of badgers in an attempt to address the problem of TB in cattle. Please submit your comments by tomorrow’s deadline . There are many excellent resources on the Web to help you. Start here with these:
Here is the text of the letter I emailed this morning to Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State, DEFRA.
I totally oppose killing badgers and find it difficult to understand how DEFRA can state that the policy of badger control is science led. If this was the case simple recognition of the results from extensive scientific investigation that saw many thousands of badgers killed, would not support further killing of badgers.
It is well known that the current tuberculin test applied to cattle results with many inconclusive, false positive and false negative results. This unacceptable regime leaves infected cattle to re-infect other cattle, it removes animals for slaughter that are not infected and causes misery to many farmers. This is the most significant area where major improvement can be gained and where significant improvement must be targeted, until we have the long awaited cattle vaccine.
Cattle contract TB from other sources, principally other cattle. This is why TB in cattle is spreading across south-west England and Wales to the rest of the country. Badgers generally do not roam far from their dens. They live within a relatively small area. They certainly do not make long journeys across the countryside. So, it is more likely that the spread of TB-infected cattle is due to the movement of these animals, from farm to farm, from farms to auctions, and from farms to slaughterhouses.
If action against badgers must be included in the policy to reduce Bovine TB in cattle then it should be well recognised that the cost of trapping, killing and disposing of a badger is significantly greater than trapping, vaccinating and releasing the same animal. The advantage of vaccinating is that over a similar time period to killing badgers you would in fact end up with a badger population that was not a risk to cattle. It makes sound economic, political and indeed common sense to vaccinate not exterminate.
I agree with the Mammal Society, which states “that the Government’s proposal is a roll-out of predetermined policy: it is not a controlled, randomised, replicated experiment (as would be required to demonstrate reliably the effects of badger culling). The Government undertook such an experiment – the RBCT – and has chosen to ignore the advice of the eminent scientists of the ISG who ran it. The Mammal Society regrets this.”