DEFRA and Natural England appear to have learnt nothing from the previous badger culls!
Ministers have approved the addition of 11 new cull areas and reauthorization of the 29 cull areas from last year. Up to 64,000 badgers could be killed this autumn. Last year’s cull was a maximum of 42,000 badgers with 32,000 badgers killed. The ludicrous thing is there is no concrete evidence that badgers are mainly to blame for the spread of bovine TB in cattle! In fact, DEFRA has admitted to looking at a range of other activities to eradicate bTB by 2038. These include ‘tighter cattle movement controls, regular testing and vaccinations’. But meanwhile, they are hell-bent on annihilating one of our most iconic wildlife species!
Nature & Wildlife conservation groups are up in arms about this ridiculous wanton purge on badgers and the huge waste of taxpayers’ money.
It’s as if the government needs to be seen to be doing something so they have another badger cull! The cull zone in Cornwall covers 83% of the county, in Devon 84%, Somerset 33% and in Wiltshire 90%. It’s a massacre of badgers on an unimaginable scale! Why is the government allowing this protected species in the British countryside to be slaughtered to oblivion?
In two areas of the country tuberculosis levels have risen in cattle where the badger culls have been carried out.
DEFRA have appeared to be working off data to 2015 to support their case for culling badgers. Last week figures confirmed in official data from 2015 was quietly released by the government. It raises questions about the merit of extending the culls. Dr Iain McGill, vet and former government scientist, who helped to expose the Government’s BSE (mad cow disease) cover-up are now leading the call for a public enquiry. The suggestion is that they have tried to hide this data to justify continuing with the culls. McGill is calling it ‘systematic scientific fraud’!
The National Farmers Union (NFU) has in excess of 55,000 members and 300 branch offices in the UK.
This successful representation body says “we are heard when it counts – locally, nationally and internationally. Every single member matters and makes the NFU stronger. A stronger NFU can be more influential, achieve more and give us a more powerful and unified lobbying voice.” Well, it should come as no surprise that the NFU has offices in Westminster literally next door to DEFRA and we believe they are constantly in and out of the DEFRA offices exerting their powerful lobbying voice on government officials. So when the Derbyshire badger cull was overturned by DEFRA at the last minute, a week ago, the NFU responded angrily.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been carrying out badger vaccination in Derbyshire since 2014 and has vaccinated well over 600 badgers to date.
This information about the badger vaccinations should be important to DEFRA and Natural England because it has been acknowledged that it could be an important method of tackling bTB in the future. But when the decision to pull the plug on the Derbyshire badger cull was made the NFU responded in a furious manner saying they would “leave no stone unturned” to find out who was responsible. They reckon culling has been proven to work and their farmers would be “rightly furious and distressed about the decision.” Apparently the finger has been pointed at the Prime Minister whose partner is against badger culling.
Then we have Tony Juniper CBE, leading British environmentalist and writer and now Chair of Natural England since April 2019.
Everyone thought his appointment would benefit our wildlife but they are now increasingly despondent about him. On a blog on the Natural England site last week he now claims he understands the government’s stance on badger culling by gaining “a deeper understanding of Natural England’s work and the extent to which it sits within a wider Government policy decided upon by Ministers rather than by our Board or Chief Executive.” But this is seen as a lame excuse for his previous beliefs back in 2014 when he was against culling badgers. This man has disappointed so many animal activists, naturalists and environmentalists he should be ashamed of himself. He has well and truly morphed himself into the DEFRA mindset. There is no return from that.
Culling badgers is not humane or necessary and without doubt, the government should hold a public enquiry.
But it’s quite interesting that the government has rolled out these culls at the same time they have prorogued Parliament. These badger culls should have been debated on all sides and many people feel that the NFU has had too powerful a say on culling badgers without all the scientific evidence. What is DEFRA and the NFU doing about tighter cattle movement controls and hygiene on farms? What research are they doing into more effective vaccinations for cattle or for badgers? And last but not least WHY ARE THEY NOT CHECKING FOXHOUNDS FOR BOVINE TB when we know they can be fed contaminated meat and moved from kennels to kennels! The Kimblewick Hunt, who tried to cover up euthanizing 97 hounds with bTB out of 164 hounds at the end of 2016, was a dreadful disgrace. Packs of hounds run across farmland across all counties and yet the government hasn’t regulated hunt kennels and checked out bTB in hounds. The public and our badgers deserve better than that!