POLL: Should badger culls be abandoned once and for all?

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The government will extend the to Dorset as part of a drive to limit tuberculosis in cattle, it was announced on Friday. The announcement follows controversial pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset running over the past two years, with Natural England issuing licences to companies that permit six weeks of continuous in the three areas until January.

George Eustice, minister of state for farming, said: “England has the highest incidence of [bovine] TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and protect the future of our dairy and beef industries.

“This includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls, vaccinating badgers in the buffer zone around high-risk areas, and culling badgers where the disease is rife. Our approach of dealing with the disease in cattle and wildlife has worked overseas and is supported by leading vets.”

Animal rights campaigners have criticised the badger cull calling it inhumane and ineffective. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

The decision was widely criticised by animal rights campaigners, who say the cull is inhumane and ineffective. Musician and animal rights activist Brian May announced that he will challenge the decision in the high court.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has supported the cull in the past, but have criticised the methods more recently as being neither humane nor effective. An independent assessment of the pilot culls in 2013 came to the same conclusion. The BVA recommended that badgers should be trapped and shot rather than killed through “controlled shooting” in the wild. Last year’s cull in Gloucestershire missed its target, with the Somerset pilot just making the minimum.

Queen guitarist May, who launched the Save me Trust said: “It’s certain that most of the murdered badgers are perfectly healthy, and free of bovine TB, but since the government has refused to test any of the dead badgers in the pilot zones, this cannot be proved. This is a tragedy for our farmers, cattle and wildlife; the scientific advice has been ignored by ministers with more badgers set to die again this year. This awful policy must be put to bed now, in favour of a policy that really will address the TB problem in cattle.”

The National Farmers’ Union say that bovine TB led to the of 32,800 cattle last year, while the government says it costs the taxpayer £100m annually in the most affected areas of England.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “Bovine TB remains a huge problem for beef and dairy farmers across the south-west, large parts of the Midlands and beyond. Thousands of cattle farmers are fighting a daily battle against the spread of this disease. The NFU believes the strategy – the first comprehensive plan to tackle bovine TB in England – gives us the best chance of controlling and eradicating this devastating disease and it is vital it is implemented in full as quickly as possible.”

Wildlife broadcasters joined activists in criticising the move. Naturalist and BBC broadcaster Chris Packham said: “There are plenty of reasons to oppose the culling of badgers but underpinning them all is the fact that the science says, indeed all the scientists say, that it’s the wrong thing to do.”

This article was first published by The Guardian on 28 Aug 2015.

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Rosalyn Thompson

Have always thought this culling shoud never have started in the first place.

Lynn Mundinger

Stop now~

Vibeke Hansen

mad–sad- heartless for this animal kill- all killing shal stop, now

Kerry Schrader

Bovine TB is a disease primarily of cattle and it is mainly spread from cattle to cattle so killing badgers does not help at all and can make things worse by the perturbation effect (scattering terrified badgers into other territories). Stricter cattle controls and improved testing of cattle plus vaccination of badgers are the ways ahead. Wales, where I live, is leading the way on this. The previous pilot culls have been condemned as inhumane and ineffective plus costing huge amounts of taxpayers money, yet still this Government persists with them to placate the NFU who can only stamp their… Read more »

Hilary Morrison

Yes of course, should have been abandoned long ago.

Duncan Smith

They may have the guns…..but we have the numbers to stop this horrendous slaughter in the name of countryside votes.

David Sedley

No scientific evidence, no moral justification. Vaccination program in Wales, so why not England? The Government is in bed with farmers and out of step with the public. No to the culling of badgers, innocent victims of bad farming practices and shocking standards of hygiene on dairy farms. Farmers need regulating, not wildlife.

Susan Frudd

I second what George has commented. The government will not listen. The badgers are being killed inhumanely, all this after they were told it was not working they still continue with the cull. It is inhumane and cruel they are basically killing badgers randomly, badgers that may be perfectly healthy or have an immunity…kill always seems to be the only answer, it's totally senseless and should be stopped now and for good……

George Holloway

Of course they should end it, not only did independent scientific analysis find that their free shooting strategy was ineffective, inhumane and unsafe, they aren't even bothering to target badgers that are infected, preferring instead to shoot them at random. Which is absurd as many of the badgers they kill could well be perfectly healthy and even immune to the disease. Let's not forget that TB outbreaks are falling all over the country, including Dorset, where the cull is being rolled out. This cannot be a result of culling, as only a very small part of the country has legally… Read more »

Debra Duddle

How is the government allowed to get away with this? The previous trials failed on every level and were deemed inhumane by their own advisors! Plus the ludicrous cost! Just to apease the NFU? Again? Vaccination works look at the evidence and stop the senseless slaughter!

Paul Fassam

Can someone please explain how the NFU has more influence over the Government's decision making than the people who voted them in to power?
The Gov. also has completely ignored ALL the scientific evidence that PROVED that culling does not work, is hugely expensive and is CRUEL!
Mind you, there are so many MPs who think it is perfectly normal to chase Foxes until they are exhausted and have fun watching a pack of dogs tear the creatures apart! WE LIVE IN A VERY STRANGE WORLD.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

another no sh*t sherlock moment….culling is MURDER!!!

Michele Jankelow

In the not too distant future there will be a serious apology for another misguided diagnosis, as there always is!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alan Petrie

Ok then. Who are the 5 people saying NO? David Cameron,Liz Truss,George Eustice.Meurig Raymond and AN Other from the NFU?

Connie Wessel

Yes!

C C Brockhoff

Yes!