Further information relating to government plans to cull badgers
March 2012 - Planned cull abandoned in Wales
Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, announced his decision to abandon plans to cull badgers in Wales opting to vaccinate instead. The Minister's decision came following a careful review of the science.
January 2012 - DEFRA select two locations in England for pilot culls
West Somerset/Taunton Deane and West Gloucestershire / Tewkesbury / Forest of Dean / Malvern Hills/Wychavon (Worcestershire). Farmers and landowners in each of the two areas (each about 350 sq.km) were invited to submit a joint application to Natural England for a licence to take part in the six-week trial to culls. 70% of the land within each pilot area must be available for culling.
December 2011 - Defra gives green light to badger massacre
Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State, DEFRA, presented mass slaughter as the only viable option. Read Naturewatch Press Release here
In 2007, the consensus of opinion was that new, scientific evidence was needed before a cull would ever be sanctioned. The last Labour government accepted this advice but a Conservative Minister, James Paice, went against it, bowing to pressure from a section of the farming community who demand something is done! The Government is simply using badgers as a convenient scapegoat, rather than facing the challenge of implementing the fundamental changes to cattle farming that are necessary to get bTB under control.
Farmers paying for the cull
DEFRA estimates the cost to farmers will be £1.4m within each 350sq km cull zone, though the National Farmers Union (NFU) predicts it could be lower. Badger control licences would be issued by Natural England to groups of farmers and landowners under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 to carry out culling at their own expense.
Farmers that adhere to the legal guidelines will end up out of pocket: On page 12 of Annex F attached to the consultation document it says: "For farmers in cull area, monetised costs exceed expected monetised benefits." Put simply, farmers will end up out of pocket. Currently, farmers are compensated for most of their losses due to bTB.
More indisputable evidence against cull
1. In 1970 bTB was almost edradicated. Eleven years of localised badger culling failed to reduce the toll further. The end of annual cattle testing in the mid-80s, and the devastating effects of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease, when testing was abandoned altogether, meant that many farms lost thousands of animals, and afterward there was a rush to restock. Regulations were relaxed, so cattle were bought and sold and, crucially, moved all over the country. Bovine TB was back and we believe that it was these relaxations of the movement of cattle and testing regimes, not badgers, that were to blame.
2. If cattle are responsible for increasing infection rates, how have cattle remained free of bTB in Scotland, where no badgers have been killed?
3. Why do they have bTB in the Isle of Man, where there are no badgers?
4. Northern Ireland is the only region in GB and Ireland not to have culled badgers. It’s also the only region to have achieved a sustained fall in bTB infection in cattle,. The incidence of the disease has falled from 10.2% to 5.43% since 2002. The success in Northern Ireland has been achieved using bio-security measures implemented by the Deptartment of Agriculture and Rural Development with the co-operation of the farming community. These measures focus on a robust bTB testing programme in cattle, as well as strict controls on their movement to reduce opportunity for infection. By contrast, the Republic of Ireland has suffered a 13% increase of bTB since killing 60% of their badger population by snaring over the same period.
5. Tighter controls in Wales bring incidents down. Stringent testing and movement controls in Wales have resulted in incidents of cattle TB down 37% in Dyfed during the first seven months of 2011. Wales, as a whole saw a 28% fall over the same period. This reduction in Dyfed is too big and too rapid to be ignored - and this was achieved without a single badger being culled. bTB figures for England show a provisional 6% increase for the same period, which indicates how effective the more stringent testing and movement controls have been in Wales.