Badger Cull officially ‘On Hold’
Amid scientific and public opinion strongly against a Badger cull, concerns about the costs involved, public safety, the logistics of carrying out a cull, and animal welfare, on 23rd October, Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Defra, announced the trial culls will not go ahead in 2012.
Although we welcome this announcement and it's good news for the badgers, it's the right result for the wrong reasons! It's not because the government is finally listening to the science or public opinion, this decision comes in light of farmers confirming there is a higher number of badgers than expected and they are unable to complete the cull before the start of winter. (Closed season: Dec 1 - May 31 for both trapping and controlled shooting.)
To add more weight against government plans to cull, on Thursday 25th October MPs voted by 147 to 28 in favour of the motion: “That this House notes the e-petition on the planned badger cull, which has gathered more than 150,000 signatures; and calls on the Government to stop the cull and implement the more sustainable and humane solution of both a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and biosecurity.”
It’s time for the government to listen, scientists oppose the cull, the majority of the public opposes the cull and now MPs have voted against it!
However, the government is not legally bound by the vote which means the cull could still go ahead. So much for living in a democratic society! For this reason it’s now more important than ever to keep up the fight. We must maintain pressure to ensure cull plans are abandoned completeley, not just postponed. You can help by sending an email or letter to your local Member of Parliament to let them know you welcome the postponement and that you feel very strongly that plans to carry out the two trial culls should be abandoned altogether.
The Naturewatch view has not wavered: we call for the Government to focus its resources on the only humane approach. The priority should be on preventing the transmission of the disease on farms through improved bio security to keep cattle and badgers apart, including measures to keep badgers out of farm buildings and feed stores, limiting the transfer of TB between cattle, improved testing methods, and making swift progress towards producing fully functional vaccines for both badgers (oral) and cattle. Although the Government is in the process of developing a cattle vaccine it needs to seek changes to EU law before it can be used. On a brighter note, ministers have announced long overdue improvements to biosecurity measures on farms that will take effect from January.
The official government message continues to be that it's still ‘absolutely committed’ to cull and that the two trial culls will take place next summer.
Recently, the government's claim that its plan to cull is "science led” was shot down by Lord Krebs, who carried out the 10-year (1997 - 2007) badger culling trial at a cost of £50 million, the world’s biggest ever scientific study into the issue that found culling is not the solution. Lord Krebs called it "mindless" and signed a letter with 31 other eminent scientists demanding the government reconsider its plan. However, Owen Paterson continues to insist the Government’s decision to cull “ wholly conforms to the science.”
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