Badgers are wonderful wild creatures which are loved by the British people and protected under UK law. But they are under threat of being killed because they are blamed by some dairy farmers and farming organisations for spreading tuberculosis (TB) to dairy cows.
Killing badgers would contradict a wealth of evidence showing that such action is unlikely to result in a long-term decrease in TB in cattle - in fact it might even make matters worse. However, the UK coalition Government has stated that it intends to allow farmers to kill badgers and has issued a public consultation on the issue. We must stand up for the badgers by opposing any killing so that they can continue to live in peace.
Cattle infected with TB face serious health and welfare problems and are slaughtered. Although farmers are compensated for the loss of their stock, they lose revenue from milk sales. TB can be transmitted from wild badgers to cattle. However, independent scientists commissioned by the previous UK government to test the efficacy of badger culling found that killing badgers would make no meaningful contribution to controlling TB in cattle. In 2008, the Government decided against further killing, in favour of a trial vaccination programme. Since then, further independent scientific research has found that badger culling is unlikely to be a cost-effective way of helping control cattle TB in Britain. However the new coalition Government has stated that it will allow killing in England, and in Wales, a government-sponsored cull could begin soon unless legal challenges are successful.
The UK Government must change its planned killing policy and instead choose effective non-lethal methods to reduce TB in dairy cattle. A better way to control TB in cattle is better testing, stricter controls on the movement of cattle and the development of a comprehensive vaccination programme for cattle. An injectable vaccine is now available and already in use in a TB hotspot area of Gloucestershire. Vaccination will shortly be used by the National Trust on one of its large estates in Devon. The Badger Trust is also investigating the possibility of having members of its Groups trained and licensed as vaccinators in order that they can assist in extending the vaccination programme.
How we will achieve it
We need to build a strong movement of caring people like you and me to ensure that our politicians get a clear message that the compassionate majority want badgers to be free to live their lives. OneKind recently responded to the UK Government’s consultation, putting a robust case against killing the badgers and instead promoting non-lethal methods.
A Parliamentary motion has been lodged at Westminster to challenge moves towards culling. EDM 1591, lodged by Paul Flynn MP, notes that there is an encouraging downward trend in bovine TB incidence in England and Wales, and urges the government not to put these improvements at risk by culling badgers. It goes on to recall that independent scientific advisers have recommended government to focus on improving and rigidly enforcing cattle-based controls and testing procedures, to bring the disease under control; and calls for greater focus on badger and cattle vaccination as longer term solutions.
Following the election in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has been asked to reconsider the Order made by the previous administration to kill badgers as part of a programme to control bovine tuberculosis (bTB). The Badger Trust is seeking the views of members of the new Government in Wales including newly appointed Minister for the Environment, John Griffiths.
Before the election, solicitors acting for Badger Trust wrote to the WAG setting out its intention to issue judicial review proceedings to challenge the Order, in the absence of confirmation that it would be revoked. The Badger Trust's earlier challenge to a previous bTB eradication Order was successful, and the initial cull was abandoned.
The revised Order has been criticised for serious errors of science and law. If the proposed cull were permitted it would have no significant impact on the control of bTB in the Intensive Action Area. In fact the improved testing and cattle controls that have already been implemented in Wales are showing improvements without a single badger having been killed.
How you can help
If you live in England, please ask your MP to support EDM 1591. You can check on the Parliament website to see who has already signed the Motion.
If you live in Wales, please contact your Assembly members and ask them to support a review of the Badger (Control Area) (Wales) Order 2011. Find out who your representatives are.
If you live elsewhere, join our movement. Simply sign-up to receive regular e-mail updates on our campaigns, tips on living an animal-friendly lifestyle and other great ways to help animals.