Writing on the Guardian's Letters page on Wednesday, scientific experts said the badger cull is flawed, and called for it to end.
Professors John Krebs and John Bourne, and Dr Chris Cheeseman, among many other experts in their field wrote an open letter calling on the government to reconsider its decision to continue and extend the badger culls.
You can read their letter here.
A badger cull has begun today (Friday 4th September) in Dorset, for the first time, and has restarted in Gloucestershire and Somerset for the third year running.
Despite the evidence that the culls so far have been ineffective, as well as inhumane, the cull has been rolled out to Dorset.
An article on the Guardian's website quotes Claire Bass of Humane Society International: “For a third year running these supposedly protected animals will be subjected to a cruel and pointless death, scapegoats of the government’s failed cattle TB policy. We will continue to campaign to end this inhumane and unscientific massacre.”
Campaigners in Gloucestershire have already reported finding a badger with a gunshot wound, which died shortly afterwards.
You can read Damian Carrington's full story here.
Our vaccination programme this year has been a big success so far. With another eight badgers vaccinated against TB at a site just over one week ago, the total now stands at 34, and there is one more site to go.
Our team of qualified vaccinators has done the work free of charge to the farmers who signed up for the scheme. Shropshire Badger Group believes that our badger vaccination approach offers a positive response to a relatively limited problem, in place of the discredited government cull that has indiscriminately killed many perfectly healthy badgers that would otherwise have boosted overall immunity in the badger population to bovine TB.
As an entirely self-funding small local charity, we welcome any offers of financial or practical help from businesses and members of the public in order to further our objectives. For more information please leave a message on our helpline: 01743 271999, or use the contact form on our website.
The Badger Trust has today (3rd August) issued a press release detailing a new short film on YouTube in which Steve Backshall speaks out to oppose further culling.
“Stop ignoring science and killing badgers to keep certain lobbies happy, says naturalist and broadcaster Steve Backshall”As the government prepares to make a decision on the continuation and possible extension of its highly controversial badger culling policy, leading naturalist and broadcaster Steve Backshall has given his support to the Badger Trust in opposing any more killing of badgers. In a film exclusively produced for the Badger Trust Steve Backshall said: "Ignoring science and going back to the dark ages culling badgers to keep certain lobbies happy, is a terrible idea.
Science is how the modern world works , it’s how our cars drive and how our smart phones work. Relying on the scientific method is what makes our world go round.
“The way the government is doing things at the moment, small scale badly organised badger culls, is making the problem of bovine TB worse, this has been proven by science.
“The only way you can really effectively contain bovine TB is not through badger culling, but by improved animal husbandry and through the development of a cattle vaccine."
Responding to the film the CEO of the Badger Trust said: "We are hugely grateful to Steve Backshall for using his expertise and influence to support our campaign to stop the badger cull, which has been a disastrous failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds.
“Two years of badger culling have cost the tax payer in the region of £15 million, the most expensive wildlife cull of its kind on record. However, the real scandal is that nearly all the badgers killed will not have had TB. Defra’s own data suggests just 1.6% are capable of passing on the disease whilst 85% are likely to have been completely TB free*. The government’s continued refusal to test the badgers for TB not only makes this a ‘blind’ cull but also means we will never be able to say whether it has worked.
“The pilot culls were set up to test the efficiency and humaneness of free shooting of badgers at night by trained marksmen. On this basis they have also been a failure, as free shooting has proved highly ineffective and has been found to be inhumane by both the government's own Independent Expert Panel and more recently the British Veterinary Association. “The only way to beat bovine TB is to stop playing the badger blame game and to follow the Welsh Government approach, by focusing on disease control in cattle. “The Chief Vet in Wales recently announced that new incidents of TB in cattle in Wales had fallen by 28% resulting in a 45% cut in the number of cattle being slaughtered for TB. This leaves 94% of the Welsh herd now free of TB, without the culling of any badgers.”
The film can be viewed on this YouTube link.
PRESS RELEASE BY SHROPSHIRE BADGER GROUP
1st May 2015
Building on the significant successes achieved last autumn in their project to vaccinate local badgers against bovine tuberculosis (bTB), Shropshire Badger Group are pleased to announce that they will shortly start the second round of annual badger vaccinations for the seven Shropshire farmers who last year seized the chance to have the badgers on their land vaccinated completely free of charge. The Group now have five fully qualified and licensed vaccinators and anticipate that a sixth will qualify shortly. This will enable them to operate as two teams, allowing more time at each location. Surveying begins this weekend, and the process will continue throughout the next couple of months.
Top scientists conclude that badgers play only a very minor part in the transmission of bovine TB, with a recent radio tracking experiment showing that badgers and cattle actually prefer to avoid each other. But vaccination as a disease control measure in both animals and human populations is a tried and tested procedure. Shropshire Badger Group therefore believe that their badger vaccination approach offers a positive and measured response to a relatively limited problem, in place of the now discredited government cull which has indiscriminately killed many perfectly healthy badgers that would otherwise have boosted overall immunity in the badger population to the cattle disease.
Recent comments by politicians and by a farmer and vet from Gloucestershire, claiming a 28% reduction in bTB in the culling areas, need to be considered alongside the same level of reduction across most of the rest of England, where there has been no culling but where new and improved cattle testing and cattle movement controls have been introduced, as they have in the culling trial areas. The Government chief scientist has himself said that the drop in infection levels could not be due to badger culling.
A spokesman for Shropshire Badger Group explained:
“Having got off to an encouraging start at the end of 2014, this will be the second phase of our 4-year vaccination scheme to protect Shropshire badgers from the threat of cattle TB. Since the vaccinated badgers will pass on the immunity to their cubs, we only need to vaccinate 50% of a badger family to achieve this scientifically proven clan immunity effect.
“We are also delighted that for 2015 a further two locations have been added to our list of free badger vaccination sites, making a total of nine sites.
“As an entirely self-funding small local charity, we welcome any offers of financial or practical help from businesses and members of the public in order to further our objectives. For more information please leave a message on our helpline: 01743 271999, or use the contact form on our website: www.shropshirebadgergroup.co.uk. “
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