The festive season is now well and truly upon us, and with that comes the hotly-anticipated John Lewis Christmas advert.

Animal lovers were delighted to see that foxes, a squirrel, a dog and a hedgehog appear in the advert. But those of us who have been vehemently opposed to the badger cull for years were especially thrilled to see that a badger joined in with the fun too!

Click here to see the advert

It is heartwarming to see the badger; one of the UK’s most iconic species, and indeed a Protected one, being portrayed in such a positive and fun way, after years of them being demonised by the Westminster government, and the right-wing press.

The Conservatives abandoned reason, and all scientific evidence and began culling badgers in 2013, in a fruitless attempt to tackle the ever-growing issue of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB). The clue is in the name, of course: this is a bovine disease, that primarily affects cattle.  The policy of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is to keep culling badgers, and even more worryingly, they keep expanding the cull zones, with no scientific justification. This is not only cruel and inhumane; it also does nothing to solve the problem affecting farmers across England, whose cattle are being slaughtered due to bTB infection.

The government knows that the eminent scientists involved in the Randomised Badger Culling Trials (RBCT), the largest ever study done into badger culling and the effect it has on bTB in cattle all came to the same conclusions:  theres’s “not a hope in hell” of eradicating bTB through badger culling. These are the words of Professor John Bourne, a leading figure in the 50-million pound publicly-funded RBCT. He was scathing towards the government’s culling programme. He described it as a “monstrous” misuse of tax-payer’s money.

Click here to find out more of the scientific evidence DEFRA chooses to ignore

Despite all this evidence and outrage from scientists and animal lovers alike, DEFRA’s stance seems to be to cover its ears and close its eyes and carry  on culling.

Many people, who are unaware of the wealth of scientific evidence the government is keeping from them, now seem to think that badgers are public enemy number one.

This can be evidenced by some of the outrage the heartwarming John Lewis advert incited in some UK citizens.

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Do they know their children could be eating bTB infected meat?

The comments above show just how well the government and the rest of the pro-cull fraternity have infiltrated people’s minds with lies and scare tactics. Yes, bTB is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans. But why are these people so worried about people being infected by badgers? How often does anyone, especially children, ever have the luck of getting up close to these shy nocturnal creatures, let alone be near enough to get sick from one?

The reality is that cattle – who are by far the major carriers of bTB, are much more likely to be in closer contact with humans on a day to day basis.  Especially children on country walks, and visits to farms. Parents are right to worry about children’s health but do they realise that cows infected with bTB are slaughtered and DEFRA allows the meat to go back into the food chain? Many places refuse to accept it due to public health risks but it is often sold to school canteens.

The “results” of the 2016 badger culls are soon to be announced by UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Andrea Leadsom. Network for Animals met with Ms Leadsom and we left that meeting with a hopeless feeling and a belief that she is going to ignore the science and keep on killing badgers. So we have no expectation that there will be any good news for badgers in what she tells parliament. Instead, the public should look beyond the official government line, read what the top scientists say, and refuse to be manipulated by the pro-culling fraternity.

After all, it is public money that is paying for each cull, and millions have been spent so far on a failing policy that flies in the face of reason. The BBC stated last year that badger culling had cost the UK tax-payer 16 million pounds. That figure will now be even higher.

The UK public aren’t fools. But DEFRA is doing its best to treat them as if they are.