At close of business yesterday, Wednesday 17th December, the House Of Commons entered its annual winter recess.
Network For Animals see it as no coincidence that today, Thursday 18th December, unchallengeable in parliament, Elizabeth Truss and the Conservative government have released the results of their controversial 2014 badger cull.The reported figures make clear that the Gloucestershire cull was an even greater failure than last year, and that in Somerset not even the midpoint of the government’s targets could be reached:
Gloucestershire Badgers Targeted: 615-1091 / Shot: 274
Somerset Badgers Targeted: 316-785 / Shot: 341
Note that all reported figures this year are the government’s own: The 2014 badger cull was overseen by government department ‘Natural England’, rather than hiring back the independent overseers who observed and reported last year’s cull an ‘epic failure’.
The Gloucestershire figure should be of significant concern as the Krebs report states that culling fewer than the minimum target is actually likely to spread any incidence of TB, when badgers move their depleted communities into new areas. Again, with no TB monitoring taking place on the shot badgers, the public remain in the dark as to the true extent of the issue that the government claim to be taking action upon.
It is also reported this year that no badgers took more than 5 minutes to die after being shot (the government’s own measure of ‘humaneness’), however only 63 of the 615 badgers shot at this year were actually monitored by Natural England, and of these 63, six badgers could not be found.
Costs of the cull, and of policing have not yet been announced.
The UK Chief Veterinary Officer has stated that culling should continue in Somerset for the next two years, but acknowledged that it should only take place in Gloucestershire if training, assessment, planning, monitoring and delivery can be improved, otherwise benefits of reducing disease in cattle may not be realised. Based upon this, Network For Animals see absolutely no case to expand the cull beyond Somerset and Gloucestershire during 2015, and without significant measures being made clear in the public domain, Network For Animals see no option but for a further cull in Gloucestershire to be called off.
In the past two years, the actions of the Department for Environment under Elizabeth Truss and Owen Paterson have resulted in the death of 2386 badgers. Network for Animals view each of these lives to be a tragic loss, and call for the rhetoric of culling to be drawn to a close, and vaccination projects seized as the humane, cost effective alternative.