Thursday, 3 April 2014

No sense prevails on badger cull


New plans to eradicate bovine TB in England unveiled by DEFRA today. 

There were many experts who warned that the badger cull would not work. An independent report now confirms the worst fears. That many badgers were killed inhumanely with many badgers taking longer than 5 min to die.  The cull failed to reach its effective target. Yet the Environment Secretary Owen Patterson ploughs on regardless. 

A comprehensive Strategy to "achieve TB free status in England by 2038" has been announced by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson today.

This includes continuing to strengthen cattle movement controls, a grant-funded scheme for badger vaccination projects in the ‘edge area’ at the frontier of the disease, and improvements to the four-year badger cull pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

DEFRA say that following recommendations from the Independent Expert Panel that assessed the badger cull pilots last year, a series of changes will be made to improve the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of culling. "These changes will be monitored to assess their impact before further decisions are taken on more badger cull licences next year."

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says:

"The four year culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are pilots and we always expected to learn lessons from them.

It is crucial we get this right. That is why we are taking a responsible approach, accepting recommendations from experts to make the pilots better.

Doing nothing is not an option. Bovine TB is a terrible disease which is devastating our cattle and dairy industries and causing misery for many people in rural communities. We need to do everything we can, as set out in our Strategy, to make England TB free."

But the scientific evidence before the badger cull was at best equivocal and at worst indicated that a cull was likely to make the problem of TB spread worse not better. Owen Patterson with an eye on the farming lobby ignored the evidence and went ahead with the pilot culls. 

He now says:

"Improvements to the pilot culls will include more extensive training for contractors carrying out the cull, better planning by the licensed companies to ensure culling is spread evenly across all land available and better data collection to assess progress. The changes being introduced will help increase the effectiveness of the culls by removing more badgers in a safe and humane way.

There will be a trial of a new service in Somerset and Gloucestershire to provide farmers with bespoke advice on how to better protect their farms from disease. This service will be available to all farmers within the licensed cull areas."

 The truth is Owen Patterson fails to learn from the lesson of the pilot culls. Killing badgers won't work. 

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