Letter to the Prime Minister

Thursday 18th October 2012

badgerBadger. Credit Margaret Holland

The following letter was sent by Simon King, President of The Wildlife Trusts, to David Cameron MP.

Dear Prime Minister

The Government’s proposals to pilot ‘controlled shooting’ of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset have rightly stirred up a great deal of public concern. A petition calling for the cull to be stopped has attracted more than 156,000 signatures and will soon be debated by MPs.

The Wildlife Trusts are opposed to culling not because of a sentimental tie to badgers, iconic though these creatures are, but because these proposals represent an approach to the bovineTB problem that ignores the scientific evidence that culling is not the solution.

We recognise the hardship the disease causes the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control it. As Professor Lord Krebs, the architect of the nine year randomised badger culling trial, concluded “culling is not a viable policy option.” It is therefore not the answer.

In the long term it is clear that a vaccine for cattle could play a part in the solution. EU regulations currently prevent one from being deployed in this country, but the vaccine is available and being tested abroad. While the blockages to the cattle vaccine are resolved, there are immediate solutions available that do not involve culling. Improved biosecurity and cattle controls can reduce the risk of infection and transmission.

A badger vaccine is available now and The Wildlife Trusts are leading the way on its deployment. Last year Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust became the first NGO to use it, 11 Wildlife Trusts are now working on such programmes, as are other organisations.

It is in nobody’s interest to continue with the controlled shooting policy. We therefore urge you to withdraw the controlled shooting licences, help farmers with improved biosecurity, commit to a badger vaccination strategy and push for changes to allow the cattle vaccine. Only then will we be able to get on top of this disease in an effective way.

 

Simon King OBE
President
 

Tagged with: Badger cull, Letter, Prime minister, Simon King, Wildlife trusts