Following repeated delays Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for DEFRA, announced plans for a pilot cull of badgers in England next spring. Despite widespread opposition and experts including Lord Krebs, a leading figure on this issue, coming forward to claim that culling will make no significant impact to the spread of bovine TB, the government plans to go ahead with the cull using a policy of ‘controlled shooting’.
The current cull plans form part of a wider approach for tackling bTB by training farmers on biosecurity and enhanced cattle testing to try and eliminate the £100million annual cost of bTB to the economy. Under the proposals, groups of licensed shooters will roam the land in designated areas at night shooting badgers freely. However, despite previous cull trials taking place, the practice of controlled shooting for preventing the spread of bTB remains untested.
While no one is in denial about the financial and emotional burden bTB presents to British farmers, Network for Animals strongly advocates the exploration of alternatives to the cull. We see further research and development of a bTB vaccine for badgers and tighter controls on the movement of cattle as crucial for an animal-friendly approach to controlling the disease.
Andrew Plumbly, Executive Director of Network, says: “The DEFRA decision to allow culling flies in the face of the best available science on the matter and will cause immeasurable suffering for badgers while doing nothing to solve the TB problem”
We are committed to fighting this decision in order to protect a much-loved species. Please contact Caroline Spelman and urge her to reconsider her plans for a cull.
Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP
17 Smith Square
Tel: 08459 33 55 77