Opposition Fails To Halt Huge Badger Cull

A major cull of Britain's badgers is to go ahead despite calls from animal campaigners for the plan to be scrapped.

On Wednesday, Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, approved culls in two trial areas in an attempt to control bovine TB. The trials will take place after the Olympic Games next year, after police chiefs warned their numbers would struggle if clashes between protesters and farmers broke out during London 2012.

On Thursday, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh spoke out against the Government’s decision to proceed with the badger cull.

“For a badger cull to work, it has to be cost-effective, humane and it has to reduce bovine TB. The cull will cost farmers more than it saves them and will spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers move out of cull areas.

“We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements and to develop a vaccine to tackle TB in badgers and cattle. Today’s announcement is bad news for wildlife, bad news for farmers and bad news for the taxpayer.”

The badger cull is expected to lead to a 16 per cent reduction in bovine TB, which was behind the slaughter of 25,000 cattle in England last year.

However, animal rights group, Animal Aid, have now hit out at the plan saying the decision by Caroline Spelman represented a "miserable capitulation" to a cattle farming industry that is intent on pursuing "abusive practices" leading to high levels of disease.

Animal Aid claims there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the mass destruction of badgers will not reduce the incidence of bovine TB in cattle.

Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler said: "Caroline Spelman, as expected, has taken the cowardly decision to order the slaughter of badgers. She has done this instead of demanding that farmers deal with the problems of their own making. This wanton slaughter is both vicious and counter-productive. The high level of bovine TB is not caused by badgers. It is the consequence of farming practices that mercilessly exploit cattle for profit – depriving them of everything that makes life meaningful."

The group said a decade-long study, costing £35 million, by the Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB, concluded that badger culling could not ‘meaningfully contribute’ to the control of the disease because it displaces badgers, spreading infection over a wider area. "The disease was almost conquered in the 1960s, without killing any badgers – the incidence stabilising at about 1,000 cases per year for around 20 years. Numbers soared when annual cattle testing ceased in the mid 1980s, followed by uncontrolled cattle movements."

The group added that recent figures from Wales confirmed stringent testing for the disease, coupled with movement controls, can lead to a dramatic decline in the number of cows killed due to bovine TB.

"The underlying causes of bovine TB, and numerous other diseases that kill even greater numbers of cows every year, are the intensive and stressful conditions to which the animals are subjected.

"Given such farming methods, it is little wonder that there are epidemic levels of mastitis, lameness and premature infertility, all of which result in the deaths each year of many more cows than those caused by bovine TB."


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