Fury over cull to wipe out a third of badgers
The Wildlife Trusts are angry that the Government has, again, extended its badger cull in an attempt to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle.
And the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside continues to join Wildlife Trusts across the country in opposing the cull which aims to kill more than 70,000 healthy badgers this autumn. That is believed to be a third of England’s population of this iconic mammal.
Campaigns Manager Alan Wright said: “This cruel and misguided cull is getting closer to our borders. There have already been culls in Cheshire and Cumbria and I find it difficult to believe that a cull will take place in Derbyshire, where the local Wildlife Trust has done so much to ensure they have a pioneering and successful inoculation programme for badgers.
“Scientists are overwhelmingly convinced that the badger cull is not the right way to deal with bovine TB, inoculation appears to be the best and cheapest way to deal with it, according to experts. And yet we hear that we could lose 35 per cent of Britain’s badgers this year.”
Culls will take place in Avon, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Somerset, Shropshire, Wiltshire and Warwickshire. They were previously carried out in Avon, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire and Wiltshire.
The move comes despite the government’s promise just six months ago to support badger vaccination and move away from shooting this protected species. The cull will result in the deaths of badgers which have been vaccinated by volunteers in government-funded programmes.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust leads the country’s most extensive vaccination programme Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s CEO, Dr Jo Smith, said: “This is a staggering government U-turn and one which will result in thousands of healthy badgers being shot across England this autumn.
“In March — following a review by Professor Godfray — the government promised to move away from lethal control. However, after seven years of badger culling, the government has failed to act on its own advice and is expanding its culling programme into new regions in what will be the biggest cull yet.
“We are at a critical turning point for our natural world and this latest U-turn should set alarm bells ringing — culling is an outdated policy that seeks to eradicate protected wildlife rather than addressing the real problem which is the main cause of bovine tuberculosis (bTB): cattle-to-cattle infection.
“Recent news that investment in a cattle vaccine is underway is welcome — but it is not enough. Moving the culling into areas where badger vaccinations have been taking place will also undermine this vital and under-funded work.”
The shock decision to destroy more than a third of England’s badgers has rocked the conservation community. The North West does not have as a big a population of badgers as other areas, some of this is due to historic persecution by badger baiters.
Alan said: “Badgers have long been targeted by cruel and ruthless people, but recently officialdom has turned against them with a programme that is ineffective and inefficient causing suffering as the animals are killed.
“In Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside we will continue to back an inoculation programme to protect our badgers. We will also support our colleagues around the country who now face heartbreak as these wonderful animals are slaughtered.”
The trust has campaigned against the culling of badgers and advocates the development of a cattle vaccine instead, along with DEFRA-funded badger vaccination and incentives aimed at improving biosecurity on farms and during the movement of cattle.
Alan added: “With the vast majority of the population against this cull, we must all write to our MPs and to Boris Johnson and demand that it ends and funds are channelled into an inoculation programme that will prevent bovine TB in both badgers and cattle.”