News Release: Thursday, 3 April, 2014
Stop ‘Ineffective and Inhumane’ Badger Cull Now – Brian May and Team Badger Call For End to Killing as Policy Descends into Farce
Queen Guitarist Brian May and founder of Save Me together with many of the country’s leading animal welfare organisations are saying ‘enough is enough’ as the Government announces more badger culls for this year.
Team Badger, the mass coalition of animal groups against the cull, reacted to the statement that the culls will continue in the Somerset and Gloucestershire areas.
Brian May, Queen Guitarist and founder of The Save Me Trust, said: “It’s almost beyond belief that the Government is still trying to continue with its clumsy and ill-advised policy of badger killing. Last year’s culls in Gloucester and Somerset have been condemned by its own advisory panel as inhumane and ineffective, and the scientific community has warned that the result of these culls will most likely be an actual worsening of the bTB problem in these areas. There is no reason to suppose that future culls will be anything other than even more spectacular failures. Millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money are being spent on killing mostly healthy wild animals – money that should now be spent on vaccination, which is the only realistic hope of eradicating bovine TB. It is time for this country to commit to an immediate comprehensive vaccination programme of badgers, and to prioritise the early vaccination of our national herd of cattle. Vaccination can be carried out on a wide scale at www.bacvi.co.uk.
“A total cessation to the cull is clearly the best way forward for farmers, the economy and cattle. The ISG final report (1) (Bourne et al 2007) shows clearly that the detrimental effects of culling on cattle TB in reactive areas disappeared rapidly after culling ended, and (2) Jenkins et al 2010 which showed that detrimental effects of culling on cattle TB in reactive areas disappeared rapidly after culling ended (Jenkins, H.E., Woodroffe, R. & Donnelly, C.A. (2010) The duration of the effects of repeated widespread badger culling on cattle tuberculosis following the cessation of culling. PLOS One, 5, e9090) both support an end to this current cull.
“A growing number of brave MPs defy government policy across the coalition and join those who have long opposed the cull as they see more and more evidence of farce in what should be a serious scientific policy. We know that 32 new areas have applied for a cull, but the Government cannot afford to carry them out. We know that many inside the Government now realise that the pro-cull arguments are fundamentally flawed. It’s time to say enough is enough.”
Anne Brummer, CEO of the Save Me Trust, said: It’s inconceivable that the Government could continue with a policy after such spectacular failure. To continue would be reckless and exposing farmers to a far greater risk. We have a vaccination programme that can start immediately and can be used until cattle vaccine is available. Vaccination is used worldwide to control disease so let’s not re-invent the wheel – just use vaccination.”
Protests against the badger cull – the so-called Badger Army – have been taking place all over the country since last year. Local petitions against the cull have also been set up in around 150 local authorities around the country, including every council in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor to Care for the Wild, said: “We will have to suffer a continuation of the culls this year, when science, common sense and growing evidence all say that these should be stopped right now. Without any impact from culling, we have seen a massive 33% drop in the number of cattle slaughtered with TB in Wales, and a significant 13.6% drop in England in 2013. TB rates in cattle fell by 24% over the last year. So where’s the sense? Better farming practices including controlled cattle movements, better testing and better biosecurity are clearly working.”
Mark Jones, vet, Gloucestershire resident and executive director of Humane Society International UK, said: It truly beggars belief that despite overwhelming scientific consensus that culling badgers can make no meaningful contribution to tackling bovine TB; despite damning evidence from post mortems, Natural England observations and the leaked IEP report that the pilot culls were inhumane and caused unacceptable badger suffering; and despite considerable political and public opposition to further badger persecution, this Government still arrogantly refuses to listen to sense or science. “
Hundreds of innocent badgers have already died in vain, and it is utterly indefensible for DEFRA to condemn even more of these supposedly protected mammals to a senseless slaughter. This Ministerial madness will lead to further chaos, cruelty and community division for absolutely no benefit whatsoever. The killing must be stopped.”
David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, said: “This decision to continue the culls flies not just in the face of parliamentary and public wishes, it also shows the Government is brazenly ignoring the fact that its own trial failed.”
Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “The decision to roll out the badger cull shows clear ignorance, if not defiance, of the Government’s own independent report into the matter. The pilots were deemed both ineffective and inhumane – but despite clear vaccination alternatives, the Government seems determined to go ahead with this unscientific policy. This will be disastrous to both badgers and the farmers the cull aims to help.”
Michael Ritchie of Rethink BTB, which campaigns for the welfare of cattle, wildlife and farmers said: “Badger culling is a costly and counterproductive distraction from the failure of DEFRA under successive governments to get to grips with cattle vaccination. The vaccine and a test to differentiate infected from vaccinated cattle already exist. DEFRA led the development of both, but failed to coordinate the licensing process with the EU. “If Ministers put as much effort into the cattle vaccine as they have into badger culling we would be well on the way to consigning the problem to history, and tens of thousands of healthy cattle would still be alive.”
Lorraine Platt, Founder of Conservative animal welfare group Blue Badger, said: “Blue Badger urges MPs not to support any roll-out (of) badger culling plans – instead, we need to focus on vaccination to tackle the Bovine TB crisis. There should be no further badger culling because it is neither warranted nor justified. Vaccination of badgers and cattle is now the only way forward.”
NOTES: (1) http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/isg/report /final_report.pdf
For more information about the vaccination programme, see www.bacvi.co.uk