FUW calls for scientific logic applied to deer numbers to be extended to badgers

The Farmers’ Union of Wales Council has called on scientists to recognise the huge damage being caused to the environment and cattle herds as a result of a massive increase in badger numbers, following a report by the University of East Anglia which highlights the need to reduce deer numbers to protect wildlife.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales Council has called on scientists to recognise the huge damage being caused to the environment and cattle herds as a result of a massive increase in badger numbers, following a report by the University of East Anglia which highlights the need to reduce deer numbers to protect wildlife.

Speaking after yesterday’s (Thursday March 7) Council meeting, FUW president Emyr Jones said: “These researchers have quite rightly highlighted the damaging impact that an expanded deer population in some parts of the UK is having on woodlands, and the knock-on effect on other animals such as woodland birds.

“Generally deer are not a major problem in most of Wales, but we have a badger population which has grown to unbelievable levels since the 1970s, and badgers are now found living and foraging on mountains and moorland at heights of over 1000ft above sea level – well away from their traditional woodland habitats”.

Mr Jones said that scientists must have the backbone to apply the same logic they apply to deer numbers to badgers.

“We know from a variety of sources that badger numbers in Wales have increased many-fold since the 1970s.

“Some farms have seen at least a five-fold increase, and it is pretty obvious that five times more badgers need five times as much food. They don’t get that food from the local supermarket; a large proportion of their diet is made up of other animals,” added Mr Jones.

Mr Jones said that hedgehogs, slow worms, bumble bees and ground-nesting birds were among just some of the species suffering as a result of high badger numbers, while there was a general scientific consensus that the current cattle TB epidemic could be largely attributed to increased badger numbers and the fact that badgers can carry and pass on TB.

In 2006, Dr Pat Morris warned in ‘The New Hedgehog Book’ that the implications of the increase in badger numbers for hedgehog survival in the UK “…are serious…ignoring the issue or pretending that badgers exist only by harmless drinking of rainwater doesn’t help at all”.

Mr Jones said: “People take a ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ approach to badgers and place them on a pedestal, and many scientists and politicians are terrified of speaking out and acknowledging the truth.

“That truth is that badgers are decimating our wildlife and decimating our cattle herds, and their numbers should be reduced to acceptable and sustainable levels.

“It is legal to control deer to protect cattle from TB and to protect wildlife from damage, and that principle should be extended to allow the humane control of badgers.

“Scientists should not be intimidated by animal rights extremists into keeping quiet about the decimation caused by badgers to our wildlife and livestock.”

 

 

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