Cull is tragic distraction to tackling devastating disease

Tuesday 27th August 2013

Badger photo by Neil AldridgeBadger Cull begins

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.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of 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.

The Wildlife Trusts have considered the evidence and issues related to the role of badgers in transmitting bTB over many years and urge Defra to prioritise badger vaccination programmes and the development of a cattle vaccine. It should also divert the estimated £6m costs of licensing, monitoring and policing the pilot culls into a major programme of badger vaccination. - See more on our dedicated page.

Neil Wyatt, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, added: "Many of our colleagues in neighbouring Trusts are investing in badger vaccination to demonstrate that there is another way. We believe this approach could easily be scaled up and hope that Wildlife Trusts can work with landowners looking for an alternative to culling."

Stephanie Hilborne 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.”

Tagged with: Badger cull, Badgers