Following the sacking of ‘Culler In Chief’ Owen Paterson on 14th July, and the appointment of Elizabeth Truss MP to Environment Minister, Network For Animals have today launched a new petition.
Contrary to popular belief, the badger culls were not cancelled by Owen Paterson, despite public outcry and reports of failure by his own Independent Expert Panel. There is currently a badger cull set to run again in 2014 in the same two counties as last year: Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Prior to Paterson’s sacking, he controversially refused to allow the same Independent Expert Panel to review his planned 2014 badger cull. Instead it was his intention to use two of the government’s own organisations ‘Natural England’ and the ‘Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency’ (AHVLA) to monitor the new cull.
We believe that is it basic common sense and elementary science to keep the scrutinising bodies the same year-on-year. How can the farmers and scientific community take the results of a cull seriously if the government change the monitoring team as soon as they report negative results? It is like a person on a diet trading in their weighing scales for a more friendly set.
Network for Animals believe that if two of the government’s own departments are to monitor a cull in 2014, they will be too susceptible to internal pressure to provide independent, unbiased results. Given this situation, we fear that in 2015, a rollout of the badger cull to further counties is extremely likely.
We urge our supporters to contact the new Secretary of State for the Environment, to immediately reinstate the Independent Expert Panel for the proposed 2014 culls, and if in any doubt about this, for her to accept our Team Badger colleague, Badger Trust’s invitation to meet prior to their August high court challenge against the cull.
Ultimately we believe that tighter cattle movement controls and testing are the solution to TB in cattle. We do not believe badgers play a major role in spreading TB, and believe that vaccination of badgers is the only safe way of removing the small threat which badgers possibly pose to cattle. We consider badger shooting likely to increase the spread of TB in badgers as frightened badgers flee their setts.
It is our hope that after taking the obviously temporary step of reinstating the Independent Expert Panel, Elizabeth Truss MP takes the time to review all available data on badgers, cattle, and TB, and cancels the 2014 cull once-and-for-all. In 2013, Owen Paterson’s cull killed 1771 badgers. A 2014 badger cull will no longer be Owen Paterson’s doing.
It will be the Elizabeth Truss 2014 Badger Cull.