Cull is tragic distraction to tackling devastating disease

Tuesday 27th August 2013

Badger cpt Neil Aldridge

As the first shots of the badger cull are reported, The Wildlife Trusts re-state deep regret that Government is driving forward with a culling policy.

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“It is a sad day for the natural world.  We deeply regret that badger culls are proceeding despite the strength of scientific and public opinion against them.  No Wildlife Trust will allow culling on its land.

“Although we may not agree with this decision, indeed we disagree strongly with it, we shall continue to engage in two way dialogue with everyone on this issue.  Anyone who feels duty bound to protest is urged to do so peacefully and respectfully, to the countryside and to the farming community.

Simon Nash, Chief Executive of Somerset Wildlife Trust, said:

“We are very conscious of the hardship that bTB causes our farming community. However science clearly shows that a badger cull is not the solution to bTB and, in fact, the shooting of badgers could make the problem worse here in Somerset.  This cull is a distraction and gets in the way of implementing the right mechanisms to control this disease through improved biosecurity and the roll out of cattle and badger vaccines – a view shared by many landowners here in Somerset.”

Roger Mortlock, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, the first non-Government organisation in England to launch a badger vaccination programme, said:

"The focus on free shooting badgers at the expense of other solutions to eradicating Bovine TB is polarising communities in Gloucestershire.  We've invested in badger vaccination to demonstrate that there is another way.  We believe this approach could easily be scaled up and are keen to work with local landowners looking for an alternative to culling.”

Paul Wilkinson continues:

“We believe that the Government’s job is to lead, not to follow one part of its constituency blindly and not to ignore the many other constituencies with hundreds of thousands of supporters and decades of experience.  This is not a respectful or engaging way to govern.

“Defra’s flawed badger cull policy is a tragic distraction from tackling this devastating disease.  There are other options in which it should invest.  It is regrettable that longer term solutions to the problem – cattle and badger vaccination, cattle movement controls and biosecurity - do not have wider and more active support from Government.

“Expert scientists, who have studied the impacts of a badger cull in England on bovine TB for many years, have repeatedly stressed it will make no meaningful contribution to the management of the disease.  The evidence demonstrates that culling runs the great risk of further spreading the disease from disrupted social groups of badgers.

“We will continue to do all we can to demonstrate the right solutions, including actively undertaking badger vaccination on our nature reserves and in the wider countryside in partnership with vets, farmers and landowners.”

The Wildlife Trusts urge members of the public who may come across dead badgers not to touch or remove them.  Under no circumstances should people handle injured badgers – they can be very dangerous.  If found, call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

Tagged with: Species, Badgers