Tuesday, 5 July 2011

UK badger persecutors again

The press reports that Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, will recommend that badgers be culled in England in a misguided attempt to curb bovine tuberculosis (bTB). However the slaughter of thousands of healthy badgers will not make a significant difference to the incidence of bTB yet will, in some instances, make the situation worse.

There has been conclusive scientific evidence, the result of the near 10-year £50 million taxpayer-funded research programme by the Independent Scientific Group (the ISG), that killing large numbers of badgers would have no meaningful impact on the spread and control of this disease, that culling badgers would have no meaningful effect on the control of bTB and that farmers should concentrate on improved cattle controls. In the last decades of the 20 century bTB began to increase following a marked relaxation of movement controls introduced, the intensification of dairy farms and the growing trend towards large herds and over wintering them in sheds and barns. These are the issues that need to be resolved, and badgers should not be used as a scapegoat.

The Badger Trust has put together a Q&A factsheet here, and Badger Watch have suggested action here.

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