Badger cull 'flies in the face of scientific evidence'

By staff writers
August 28, 2013

Critics say the government's controversial badger cull will prove bad for farmers, taxpayers and wildlife, as well as flying in the face of scientific evidence.

The cull began on Monday 27 August, despite widespread protests and a national petition on the government's e-site containing some 280,000 signatures, initiated by rock guitarist and scientist Brian May.

Campaigners say that over 70 per cent of the badger population in large areas of the country will be killed, many of them healthy.

In October 2012, a coalition of leading animal science experts declared in a letter to the Observer newspaper: "As scientists with expertise in managing wildlife and wildlife diseases, we believe the complexities of tuberculosis transmission mean licensed culling risks increasing cattle TB rather than reducing it."

Baron Krebs, the eminent Oxford scientist who has been involved in badger cull trials, has described the current one as "mindless".

In 2011, 26,000 cattle were slaughtered as a result of Bovine TB, costing an estimated £90 million in testing and compensation.

A £50 million, 10-year study carried out by the previous UK government concluded: "The reductions in cattle TB incidence achieved by repeated badger culling were not sustained in the long term after culling ended, and did not offset the financial costs of culling. These results... suggest that badger culling is unlikely to contribute effectively to the control of cattle TB in Britain."

Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director for the Humane Society International/UK, commented: "We are appalled to learn that the mass shooting of badgers has begun in our countryside. This is a dark day for Britain as science and ethics have been sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

"Thousands of innocent badgers will now suffer and die in a completely unjustified slaughter that will at best have a marginal impact on TB in cattle and could very well make the problem worse."

Opposition MP Mary Creagh, Labour's environment spokesperson, said yesterday: "To bring this disease under control, we need stricter management of cattle movements and to prioritise badger and cattle vaccination. We should be building alliances in the EU to get restrictions on vaccinating cattle lifted.

"The government should stop, listen to the scientific evidence and abandon the cull. Bovine TB is a terrible disease that must be stopped. This cull is not the way to do it," she declared.

Jay Tiernan, a leaders of the Stop the Cull campaign, was arrested on 27 August for trespassing at a Defra site in Gloucestershire.

Protesters say they will do their best to disrupt the cull, which is being accompanied by a protective police operation called Operation Themis, "to ensure public safety".

* Animal scientists oppose badger cull: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18916

* Stop the Cull (RSPCA): http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/wildlife/stop-the-cull

* Facebook action page: https://www.facebook.com/StoptheCullCampaign

* E-petition:

[Ekk/3]

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