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A shot in the dark – badger cull ‘lottery’ starts amid accusations of deceit, negligence and incompetence

A cull of badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire has begun which will lead to the deaths of more than 5000 of the ‘protected’ species, in spite of the fact that experts say the policy simply won’t work.

International wildlife charity Care for the Wild has slammed the decision to go ahead with the cull, which is based on scientific evidence which actually summarises that culling badgers can have ‘no meaningful impact on the disease’.

Philip Mansbridge, CEO of Care for the Wild, said:

“This cull is literally a shot in the dark. They are ‘hoping’ that it will help, but it’s just as likely to make things worse. They are wrapping it up as the only way to stop tb, but it clearly is not. This cull is a lottery which no-one will win.

“I understand that members of the public might hear the arguments put forward by the government and assume that it is justified. The government claim that a cull has worked in Ireland, where half the country’s badgers have been killed for a small reduction in tb – but the same reduction was achieved across the border in Northern Ireland without a single badger being killed. They are just cherry-picking information to justify the unjustifiable.”

Care for the Wild Policy Advisor Dominic Dyer, who has worked with Defra and in the farming industry, described the cull as ‘the worst agricultural policy I’ve seen in 30 years’.

Writing in Politics.co.uk, he said: “The badger cull policy is fatally flawed as it is built on three pillars of sand: negligence, incompetence and deceit.

“Negligence because after the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001, the National Farmers Union restocked herds with untested cattle – leading to a tripling of tb.

“Incompetence because the free shooting of badgers at night will undoubtedly result in huge animal suffering and large numbers of animals being wounded and moving between setts, increasing the risk of spreading bovine TB to wider areas, which is the exact opposite of the what the cull is seeking to achieve.

“Deceit because the government has no plans to test any of the 5,500 badgers to be shot over the next few weeks for TB. This is despite the fact that the NFU and wildlife conservation groups are calling for tests to be undertaken, including the use of new DNA technology to provide a clearer picture of the various strains of TB in badgers and how this impacts on the transmission of TB to cattle.

“Farmers have worked hard to earn the respect of the public as stewards and protectors of the countryside and its wildlife. Over the next few weeks this reputation will be torn apart in the public glare of a hugely unpopular policy, which will result in the needless slaughter of thousands of a protected species. “

Care for the Wild is a charity based in Sussex dedicated to the protection of wildlife in the UK and abroad. For more information or if you would like to support our work, see www.careforthewild.com.

 

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