The Badger Trust has today (23rd August 2016) issued the following press release in response to the government's announcement that it intends to extend the badger cull to five more areas from the autumn.
Badger Trust condemns decision to extend disastrous badger cull to 5 new areas of England
The Badger Trust has condemned a decision by the government to expand badger culling to 5 new areas of the country (South Devon, North Devon, North Cornwall, South Herefordshire and West Dorset), despite the complete failure of the policy over the last 4 years.
Since 2013 the government has licensed the culling of 3,916 badgers in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset at a cost to the taxpayer in excess of £25 million. None of the badgers killed have been tested for TB and many have died as a result of an experimental 'free shooting' method, which has been condemned as inhumane by both the government's Independent Expert Panel and the British Veterinary Association.
DEFRA statistics show that despite killing thousands of badgers the number of cattle slaughtered for TB continues to rise both in and around the culling zones.
Responding to the government's decision to extend the badger cull the CEO of the Badger Trust, Dominic Dyer, said:
"After 4 years of badger culling no one can now doubt that the policy has been a disastrous failure on scientific, cost and humaneness grounds. For the new DEFRA Secretary Andrea Leadsom to ignore the facts and extend this policy into 5 new areas of the country defies belief.
The badger cull is built on three pillars of sand, incompetence, negligence and deceit, and will ultimately collapse because it fails to address the key cause of bovine TB, which is cattle to cattle infection.
We could kill every badger in England but bovine TB would continue to spread in cattle herds, due to inaccurate TB testing, excessive numbers of cattle movements and poor biosecurity controls."
The Chair of the Badger Trust, Peter Martin, said:
"The badger is being used as a scapegoat for failures in the modern intensive livestock industry that have led to a significant increase in bovine TB in cattle herds. Recent changes to the cull licencing regime have made it clear this policy is now just a 'numbers game' based on indiscriminate and untargeted killing of this protected wildlife species. They have abandoned any pretence of science or control.
We now have conclusive scientific evidence proving beyond doubt that badgers actively avoid cattle in pasture and farm yards, and that cattle avoid feeding on grass where badgers urinate or defecate. This effectively means that the likelihood of badgers passing TB to cattle within the farming environment is so low that it is impossible to distinguish it from any other potential environmental vector, including cattle themselves.
By extending the badger culls to 5 news areas of the country the taxpayer is now facing a bill in the region of £100 million by 2020 on a policy which will fail to deliver any significant reduction in bovine TB for livestock farmers.
The government in Westminster is using badgers as a political fig-leaf to mask its total failure to get to grips with bovine TB. They should be looking to Wales to see how they have waged a far more successful campaign against the disease, based on more rigorous TB testing, tighter cattle control and bio-security measures. New TB herd incidents in Wales are down by 14% in the last 12 months and all this has been achieved without culling badgers. And as Ireland is also about to abandon its cull policy in favour of vaccination it is way past the time for DEFRA to do the same."
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