Badgers – Does it need to be war?


Hi Folks.

We’ve been burrowing deep, looking at ways to try to save Britain’s badgers from a slaughter that will serve no useful purpose.

I’ve written up the results of our ruminations here and on the Save-Me forum. Please join the forum if you want to help prevent this terrible tragedy in our countryside.

But if you want to see what I have been saying, please see below. And THEN join Save-Me!


Here are two organs of opposing views, in latest print. Notice that in one picture, the badgers look all cuddly and attractive, whereas in the other, they’ve caught the badger’s mouth open, making him look like some fierce predating pariah.

It looks like the battle lines are already drawn, doesn’t it. But we are hoping for debate, interaction, dialogue, and a solution which will suit all parties, human and otherwise !

Please help! The government needs to know that you do not want the blood of predominantly healthy badgers all over our countryside. We need vaccination, not slaughter.

Please sign the petitions. And please keep this in your mind.

All the best



We held a Save-Me update board meeting today. I think we made some important decisions. I wanted to share our thoughts with you first, on this forum, since this is where so many of our treasured veteran Save-Me supporters exchange thoughts. Yes, we may need to be warriors again, but very careful thought is needed.

The threat against British badgers is very severe, following the statement by Caroline Spelman in the Commons on the 19th … a very unwelcome birthday present for me.

I have been relatively quiet since then, and so has Save-Me. But only because we have been thoroughly considering our options. We met today, to make plans to ensure that we use the resources we have in the most effective way. There are now a number of organisations lining up to fight against the Government’s tragically ill-advised plan to slaughter thousands of badgers next Summer. We have been in contact with most of them.

The Badger Trust’s plans are confidential, of course, but it’s well known that they are likely to challenge the measures in law. The Trust has a very impressive track record in legal action, notably in Wales – where the second of two Judicial Reviews brought about by the BT stalled the notorious Elin Jones in her tracks, and undoubtedly contributed to the change in the balance of power in Welsh politics – a fact which must give the current British Government the odd sleepless night. John Griffiths, heading up the new Welsh Assembly Government’s policy on farming, immediately instigated the current moratorium in Wales on culling badgers, pending more thorough consultation.

38 Degrees, the well-known action group who operate by organizing petitions, and scored a notable success in mobilizing public opinion against the proposed selling-off of Britain’s forests, have stepped in to campaign against the badger cull.

The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) is also running a petition to stop the proposed plans, pending further research into vaccination. Petioning is a valuable tool for giving the government pause. We ask that all members encourage a big response to these petitions. There may also be a petition on the official government site too. We will keep you posted.

Various other animal-aware groups are mobilising to spread public awareness of the appalling carnage that is under discussion, and they will take various tacks. Of course the heavier messages will be saved until the threat becomes imminent. But the feeling is already out there that the more the general public get to hear about this, the more they will turn against the government and the NFU, who are pushing so hard for this apparently senseless witch-hunt – which all true scientific evidence says will not work.

Of course, the line of least resistance, as things get more polarized, will be to encourage various kinds of sanctions against farmers, boycotting milk and dairy products, and British meat.

While we sympathise with this approach, and most of us are vegetarians anyway, out of choice, we do not think attacking this country’s farmers is the way to go. Of course this forum accepts all viewpoints, and I will be watching with interest what reactions you give. But our decision for Save-Me as a pressure group is that we will seek to solve the bTB issue, in badgers, and in cattle, and in doing so, support farmers in their quest to find answers. This makes sense on many levels.

Firstly, Save-Me now has many farming supporters. As in the case of the Hunting issue, many of them remain quiet publicly, because they are conscious of the pressures that can be brought against small farmers by the NFU. But they communicate privately with us, and the wisdom they bring us is priceless. It would be foolish to alienate these very enlightened people.

Secondly, I pledged to Stephen James (VP of the Welsh NFU) when I entered into this arena at the beginning of Save-Me, that no matter what the outcome of the consultation in Wales at that time, I would make the elimination of bTB a focus in my life. It was not an idle promise.

Thirdly, I have never met anyone in animal welfare who wanted to see cows slaughtered needlessly. Why would we? Yes, many of us regard the whole business of farming animals purely for food to be riddled with cruelty anyway, but there are many within farming who are addressing these issues, and Save-Me would prefer to be helping these people rather than hindering them. It’s looking more and more possible that eating animals will become an untenable idea some time in the future, but evidently the whole world is not going to stop eating meat and drinking milk overnight, so in the meantime, our policy will be dialogue, moderation, and offering all the support we can to the enlightened.

Fourthly, pragmatically – in the reverse of the NFU’s core argument – just supposing all we cared about was badgers, it would make no sense to try to keep badgers disease free while they are still being infected by diseased cows!

As an aside, we will be asking our moderators in this Forum to run a tight ship as regards the rules of discussion. We are looking at opening up the facebook page again, in view of the seriousness of the situation, and facebook is a relatively uncontrollable jungle. But on this forum we will not pass insults from anyone on any side, and we will fail anything which amounts to ‘winding up’ an opposing arguee. It’s essential that we keep this forum constructive.

So what will our policy be? Obviously we are not going to reveal the plans in detail, but our primary aim will be to educate and inform the public, which must be ultimately to everyone’s advantage, since this is a problem which affects everyone in the country – not just farmers and animal campaigners. And we already know that the majority of the public are against a cull. In acting responsibly and moderately, we hope to work towards, and be part of, proper dialogue between opposing sides, and our ultimate goal will be to find a long-term solution to eradicating bTB which will satisfy all parties.

Our belief at present, informed by the considerable weight of scientific advice open to us, is that vaccination is the ONLY action, along with controls on cattle, which can ultimately ensure the eradication of the disease. SO it must be pursued at full speed, not half-heartedly. We believe that much of Ms Spelman’s package makes sense, but that culling should be removed from the agenda, because it is unethical, unsupported by scientific evidence, is a waste of money, and there is risk that it will make matters worse.

This is what we bring to the table, but we feel sensible negotiation is called for and is at present lacking. Perhaps we can start, from our point of view, by clearly acknowledging that ‘something has to be done’.

It is worth noting, and it will be part of the message we hope to get across, that, though the phrase “Pilot Scheme” implies some kind of scientific experiment, NO SCIENTIFIC CONCLUSIONS will be able to be drawn from such a scheme. In simple terms, the reason is that if you change a number of variables in an equation all at the same time, there is no way of knowing which changes brought about which result. If, in a “Pilot Cull” area, the incidence of TB were to go down, there will be no way of discerning whether killing badgers was helpful or not. Of course, for farmers on the edges of any such area, the risks are very great, since the evidence on perturbation effects suggests that these areas will become more prone to infection.

The subject is complex, and is dominated by the frustrating knowledge that it is only the EU regulations, to which DEFRA accedes, that force farmers to kill cattle reactive to a Test. Without this regulation from Europe, we could all be drinking milk from cows who are either technically sick, but have no discernible symptoms, or vaccinated and healthy, or who have a natural immunity to TB. It’s scandalous that the current regime will not even allow cows (assisted by farmers) to evolve resistant strains.

We would like to question Britain’s allegiance to this EU red tape, as part of our campaign.

Links will be found to all campaigns elsewhere on the Save-Me site. [For now on Save-Me Badger News and see links below to petitions.]

We thank all Save-Me contributors very sincerely.



* 38 Degrees Petition
LACS Petition:
SAVE-ME (in process of update)