The Scandal of the Badger Cull [Petition]



#Wakeupdefra The disease is spread within the herd – not by wildlife.  

Brian and Anne Brummer at Gatcombe

How can we, a nation that considers itself enlightened and animal-loving, be allowing the slaughter of our precious wildlife by this out-of-control government, under the false claim that it is helping farmers control disease ?

Hiding behind the smokescreen of the pandemic, the Government’s merciless slaughter of thousands of Britain’s badgers continues almost unnoticed. Even if it were achieving its declared aim of controlling disease in cattle, it would be shocking in its cruelty. But in the light of the complete absence of any proof that it is helping farmers, the senselessness of this carnage beggars belief. A series of governments over the last 10 years, ignoring morality, science and common sense, have spent millions in public money pursuing a policy which is failing to protect farmers’ livelihoods, and driving our native badgers towards extinction.

The Badger Cull is a scandal and a tragedy, driven by ignorance and lies.

More than 70,000 mostly perfectly healthy badgers are to be targeted in the next few months in the largest ever annual badger cull. Our figures show that 102,334 badgers have already been slaughtered – roughly a quarter of Britain’s badgers.

The Government’s Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA) say this escalation in killing will ‘help to eradicate the disease sooner’ – an incredible falsehood, since, after SEVEN YEARS of culling, we have seen NO improvement in the incidence of TB in Britain’s cattle, and the disease continues to spread.

This desperately failing Government policy aimed at combating bovine TB relies on two main elements – the killing of wildlife, accused of being a vector for the disease, and the killing of cows which fail the notorious Intra-dermal Tuberculin Skin Test. This skin test is next to useless in identifying infected cows. Its accuracy has recently been rated as no better than flipping a coin. And by the time it identifies ‘reactors’ in the herd, it’s way too late, because they have already spread the pathogen throughout the herd. Trying to eradicate a disease you cannot find is of course doomed to failure. British dairy farmers are losing their livelihood and their sanity, forced by DEFRA into a testing regime that has no logic and no chance of success.

Seven years ago, while most of the rest of the country’s farms were following Government policy and struggling to control TB, Robert Reid on his dairy farm at Gatcombe in Devon, faced with being serially shut down due to TB, began a revolutionary strategy under the leadership of specialist vet Dick Sibley. A system of tracing each infection back to its source, using enhanced testing, and a systematic elimination of routes of infection in the herd, resulted in a TB Free certification within 3 years. During this time not a single wild animal was killed. Even though the surrounding badger families were confirmed to be infected, Robert’s herd was cleared of infection and he was able to resume trading.

The results at Gatcombe are a major breakthrough, and, though the findings need confirming on a larger scale, any government with any common sense or decency would now halt the killing of wildlife, and focus on trying to reproduce the Gatcombe results nationwide. Would’t they ?

A crucial realization from the data at Gatcombe has been that most ‘inconclusive’ reactors at a skin test will eventually prove to be infected. And many of these undetected infected cows will also be infectIOUS – spreading the disease within the farm. Some cattle on the Devon farm passed more than 30 skin tests before being found to be infected. This ‘latent infection’ explains why the DEFRA policy is fatally flawed. Meanwhile these undetected ‘clear’ cattle are traded and transported around the UK, spreading the disease ever more widely.

In 2020 Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire are to join the existing cull zones of Avon, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Lincolnshire bringing the total number of ‘zones’ to 42. The scale of the killing is breathtaking. And, shockingly, utterly pointless.

Environment Secretary George Eustice says :

“Bovine TB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that the UK faces today, causing considerable trauma for farmers and costing taxpayers over £100m every year. No-one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely. That is why we are accelerating other elements of our strategy, including vaccination and improved testing, so that we can eradicate this insidious disease and start to phase out badger culling in England.”

There is clearly some double-talk here. The idea of accelerating culling to reduce culling is absurd and dishonest. Clearly Eustice does want to continue culling as part of his failed policy, in spite of all the evidence. He hasn’t improved testing either. Eustice is not telling the truth, and he is refusing to face up to the bald facts that :

1) The issue is not with badgers – it is the latent infection remaining in the herd.

2) Dairy farming in Britain will never be free of TB until the government abandons this hopeless policy.

We challenge George Eustice to meet us and show us any data that confirm he has used improved testing, or that there has been any statistically significant improvement in bTB incidence in cattle since the cull started.

Seven long years have cost 100s of millions of pounds of tax payers’ money, and the slaughter of thousands of our precious native badgers – a protected Species. And the disease still runs rampant.

The cull is a waste of money and time. It destroys cattle, badgers and farmers, and it simply does not work. It MUST be stopped.


Brian May and Anne Brummer

The Save Me Trust