Over the last decade the debate of culling the Badger Meles meles in Britain has come under great debate. As a main transmitter of Bovine tuberculosis amongst livestock there is a rift in how to deal with the situation. As an outsider, I seek to delve into this debate looking into both sides of this argument before coming to my own conclusion and maybe changing yours.
On 27th February 2013 it was announced that a Badger cull was to proceed this summer, with two pilot badger culls to tackle the spread of bovine TB in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset. TB is an infectious disease infecting cattle and other mammals; it is one of the biggest challenges facing the cattle farming industry today.
The cull is thought to prevent TB spreading, whilst killing the badgers quickly so no suffering occurs. TB can spread to most mammals but cows are most commonly infected through badgers which as a Beef eating country this is a problem especially for farmers. Somerset farmer Edward Haddrell “Why are people living in an urban areas deciding what does not effect them, they don’t know what its like to loose their lively hood” with the average cost of a TB breakdown on a farm it costs the famer around £12,000. Without any further action it will cost approximately £1 billion, The Environment secretary, Owen Paterson stated “These pilot culls are just one part of our approach to control and eradicate this dreadful disease. We are using everything at our disposal to get to grips with TB including new tougher controls on moving cattle, increased herd testing and working to get effective vaccines ready as soon as possible.” The pilots are being carried out to test the chosen method of culling through free shooting of the badgers. The pilots will be independently assessed to check the method is both effective in removing enough badgers using humane approaches. Badgers are seen as a pest to farmers, mice and other vermin are exterminated and people don’t think twice about it, why is culling badgers any different?
On the other hand there is complications involving the cull stated by David Attenborough”Survivors will carry the disease into areas that have hitherto been unaffected. There’s good scientific research available to show that culling badgers can make things worse and not better.”eradicating a set opens space for new badgers to move in. Without knowing whether infected badgers were killed or not, killing the healthy and providing room for the infected; this can cause a dilemma for the species genes and the farmers. Over 70% of the badger population in large areas of the country will be killed, many of them healthy. The method of free-shooting badgers could cause severe problems to the badger population with independent scientific studies showing that culling would be of little help in reducing bovine TB, and even suggest that it could make things worse in some areas. The petition to stop the cull has now passed the threshold of 100,000 signatures leaving the public unsure what is to happen to this gentle giant. Recent work by the BBC showing life in a set we can now see how intimate the badgers relationships are, cuddling up to each other in the darkness and how intelligent they are building the set to avoid flooding from rainfall. If TB is prone in cows it would make more sense to cull those infected, “Nobody likes killing badgers but it’s unavoidable,’ they say, before reeling off numbers on the cost of TB to the taxpayer, and how much misery it is causing farmers, Badger-culling is the most ‘affordable’ way to deal with the problem” says Defra, culling badgers saves money, which seems to be all people care about these days.
From what I have discovered my opinion on the badger cull has fallen to being against it, I sympathize with the farmers who suffer the loss of cattle but from the information I have looked into there is no proof that slaughtering 70% of the population of badgers will reduce the spread of TB, it seems like unnecessary killing to try and save money which should never be the case.
A six week trial of badger culling in Somerset has now ended as it was short of its target of 70% of the population by 10% and have requested more time and opposed methods such as the use of gas, but it has been stared that this tactic will not be put into use unless its proven safe humane and effective. Green party leader Natalie Bennet stated it was ‘inhumane’ and called for a plan for vaccinations and improve biosecurity to reduce transmission amongst the species, cattle and other wildlife.At one time gassing was the preferred method of culling but it was dropped in favour of shooting, which was seen as more humane. The RSPCA said it was “opposed to the use of gas to control badgers on welfare grounds and believes it is not humane as it may cause badgers to suffer prolonged deaths underground”.
For more information here are my sources: