PM wants to kill badgers to save them


– Cattle Biosecurity, Cameron and Paterson from North Devon Show 8 Aug 2013

Badger Trust logoBADGER TRUST
9 August 2013


The Prime Minister and his friends in the cattle industry are busy trying to brainwash the public about killing badgers. ‘Pilot’ culls are due to begin before the end of the year and there is an increasing barrage of propaganda to soften up public opinion with outrageous and unsubstantiated claims about bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and its impact.

David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “Mr Cameron told BBC’s Radio 4 [1] that there could be ‘…appalling consequences for badgers’ if the culls did not go ahead. The Trust says it beggars belief that he is forgetting the horrific reality of the slaughter he is backing. More than 100,000 badgers, the vast majority disease free, will be slaughtered or maimed. Nothing could be more appalling than that”.

The PM also said the Government could spend “another billion pounds” dealing with the consequences of bovine TB if culls were not carried out, but killing the animals would have only a marginal effect in the long run [2]. But with an eventual benefit of only 12-16 per cent at best the compensation bill will be barely affected. New restrictions introduced this year at the insistence of the European Commission are likely to have a real and lasting effect. They are similar to the successful Area Eradication Scheme of the immediate post war years which did not include any assaults on wildlife [3].

Mr Williams added: “Mr Cameron boasts that the Coalition had the political courage to help the countryside, whereas culling will help no one other than those who wish to kill any wildlife at will anywhere.

“Successive governments should have called the cattle industry to heel 20 years ago when it was resisting pre-movement restrictions, cattle movement monitoring and more frequent testing. In the meantime the number of cattle slaughtered was rising from about 1,000 a year on average to almost 38,000 last year. This tragic outcome followed 20 years of stability with various local badger culling schemes making no difference, and even now the new but long overdue cattle-based policies are not being given time to have an impact before the killing”.

The pre-cull smokescreen has recently included, in the Daily Telegraph:

• June 2: a farmer in Gloucestershire tearful about losing cattle for which he is compensated, a member of the industry that kills prematurely ten times as many cattle for diseases other than bTB;

• June 2: the British Veterinary Association saying the only weapon Britain has against bTB is killing badgers, repeating the myth that no other country has controlled the disease without killing wildlife – forgetting the UK itself which did just that from 1950 to 1990;

• July 28: overblown tales of terror (one farmer) in Derbyshire, where the county council has decided not to allow culling on its land;

Those who see badger killing as a cheap shortcut or even as a salve to their discomfiture at being rebuffed in the past are, like the lady in Hamlet’s play, protesting too much.

[1] please click on number [2] please click on number
[3] [1] W. D. Macrae, MAFF. Symp, Zool. Soc., Lond. No. 4, pp. 81-90 (Published April, 1961).

Jack Reedy
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