Sunday, 25 April 2010

Talks about the badger cull - a report

One of our supporters attended the local meeting on Saturday 24th April 2010 in the Old College, Aberystwyth, about the badger cull, and sent us the following report. Thanks!

"About 50-80 people were there – a great turnout. It was also being filmed by S4C for showing at a later date. There were four speakers: Dr Dan Forman, Swansea University; Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales; Ian from Badger Trust; and Cecilia, a dairy farmer from Pembrokeshire. The speakers were all excellent, and at one point a member of the audience spoke out, saying that he had lived in the countryside for 30 years and had previously supported a cull but what he heard on that day from the scientists has totally changed his mind about the badger cull, and thought that if more farmers were told the truth about what was really going on (rather than the biased information and suppressed facts via WAG) then they would be against the cull. A dairy farmer also spoke at the meeting and she said farmers are being sold the wrong message. They are being promised that culling the badgers will end bovineTB, but as more facts come out it is clear that they are being misled. We're all being misled by the Welsh Assembly Government.

There were some very interesting facts learnt on the day:
  • The cull will cost £9.5 million pounds over 5 years.
  • The cull will be conducted over 5 years, during the spring, summer and autumn and will involve killing as many badgers as possible in the IAPA [Intense Action Pilot Area] zones, which are in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.
  • The cull will involve traps being laid at night with peanuts to get the badgers used to the traps for 10-12 days, then, after c.12 days the next time they use the trap the trap will have been triggered to shut on the badger. In the morning the contractors will remove the trap and badger and shoot it. The dead badger will then be tested for TB.
  • Scientific evidence from a 10 year study shows that there will be only a 6% to 9% decrease in bovineTB from any culling, and this decrease will only last for 2 years after the five years of culling badgers.
  • Badgers are a protected species and special permission is needed to do anything to them. A protected species can only be killed if it will lead to a “substantial” reduction” in the disease. The forecast 6-9% reduction in bovineTB that might result from this five year cull was regarded as a ‘substantial” reduction by the judge in the judicial review and by Elin Jones, Rural Affairs Minister.
  • The cull could start from the 1st May.
  • There is no public map of the proposed IAPA culling areas.
  • There is no public information about the dates or locations of the culling. Contractors with traps and guns will be appear on private land to kill badgers. There is no information as to who these contractors are, what training they have had, or even if they have been CRB checked. There is no way of knowing that someone walking around with a gun is really anything to do with the cull.
  • Although a viable vaccination for cattle is almost ready, if cattle in the UK were vaccinated they could not be exported to Europe because of the ban on moving cattle with TB. It is for callous monetary reasons that certain organisations resist vaccination, they are not concerned with welfare in the slightest.
  • BovineTB is spread by other mammals as well as badgers e.g. mice, voles, rats, deer etc. The biggest spreader of bovineTB is cattle. TB can also be in the slurry farmers spread on fields. Badgers have become the scapecoat.
  • BovineTB can take years to manifest, and in Australia it took 27 years to eradicate it from some cattle herds.
  • The huge 10 year scientific Randomised Badger Control Trial conducted in England (which cost £34million and killed 11,000 badgers) concluded that “badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of cattle TB in Britain” and “We further conclude from the scientific evidence available, that the rigorous application of heightened control measures directly targeting cattle will reverse the year- on-year increase in the incidence of cattle TB and halt the geographical spread of the disease.” This study was led by the Independent Scientific Group (ISG). A follow up study found "the financial costs of conducting the culling substantially exceed the overall benefits accrued."
  • The cost of the cull in Wales is estimated to be three times the cost of the financial benefit of culling the badgers.
  • The judicial review cost Badger Trust £87,000 and they may have to pay up to £10,000 for WAG legal fees.
  • If the cull is ‘successful’ in the IAPAs then it could be rolled out across Wales.
  • If it’s successful in Wales there could be pressure on England and Ireland to re-introduce culling.
  • All the four major political parties support a cull. The Plaid Cymru AM Elin Jones in her position as Rural Affairs Minister got it through the Plaid Cymru/Labour Coalition in the Welsh Assembly Government and both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have said they will support a cull in England if it was to be re-introduced there.
  • The Green party is the ONLY political party which opposes the cull.
So, what can you do? Take action!
Join the badger groups:

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