The Crime of Stupidity


A shocking crime has been committed by a minority of the Welsh farming community, as detailed in the two-part report below.

Following the Welsh Government’s recent decision to vaccinate badgers, Welsh Shadow Agriculture Minister Elin Jones made a disgraceful and irresponsible statement which appeared to constitute incitement to break the law by advocating violence against badgers, a native species protected in primary law.

She said: “Do you agree with me that farmers will now have to consider how best to protect their cattle? I, for one, would not blame them however they choose to do that.”

The inference is clear, and Jones must now be held responsible for the consequences of her statement, which was both callous and ill-advised, . It falls well below the standard one would expect from an elected Assembly Member, who also represents the many Welsh farmers who oppose culling and support cattle and badger vaccination as the way forward.

A group of farmers have taken the law into their own hands and hired a gunman to massacre badgers on their land and according to these reports, have exterminated whole families of the creatures. This behaviour is reckless on many counts.

Firstly, the killing of these entirely innocent creatures is an appalling act of cruelty. Even if it were proven that badgers were the main cause of the spread of Bovine TB, which it is not, all available scientific evidence has shown that culling ‘cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of bTB in cows’ (RBCT report). Morally and scientifically this action is completely unjustifiable, and is a crime under British law, for which the perpetrators must be brought to justice. The complete eradication of badgers in this way, when there is a satisfactory alternative to culling, may breach the European Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife.

But, apart from the tragedy for these ancient badger families, the worst news of all is for farmers. This piecemeal, uncoordinated, criminal killing of badgers is exactly the kind of action which will have the same consequence as reactive culling in the RBCT research – it will make the problem of Bovine TB in cows WORSE and spread the disease.

There is no doubt that severe disruption will have been caused in badger communities, and the prediction is that, because of this ‘perturbation’, the risk to neighbouring farms of breakdowns due to bTB will be substantially increased. In short, this foolhardy act has now put surrounding farmers directly at increased risk. The price is distress for farmers and their families, and an increased bill of compensation, which is ultimately borne by taxpayers.

We call for an apology from Elin Jones, and for the full weight of the law to be brought to bear on all the culprits.

This tragedy also shames the British Government. Their recent insistence on pursuing a course of badger culls flies in the face of both the scientific evidence and overwhelming public opinion. Unfortunately, it also risks giving the false impression that it is now legal to kill badgers without proper cause, and may have encouraged these renegades to take the law into their own hands.

It is time for the senseless vendetta against badgers to stop;
a statement from the Farmers Unions to this effect is now urgently needed.

24th April 2012

S4C’s programme ‘Y Byd Ar Bedwar’ (The World at 4), which was broadcast on April 17th 2012.

This is the link for the program with subtitles Badger Report [Subtitles] S4C Y Byd ar Bedwar 17 Apr 12 Pt1 Badger Report [Subtitles] S4C Y Byd ar Bedwar 17 Apr 12 Pt2