Government needs to stop fixating on killing badgers
As the badger cull start date is officially announced the RSPCA stands firm in calling for the scheme to be scrapped as it will ‘not help farmers eradicate bovine TB’
As the start date for the controversial badger cull is officially confirmed the RSPCA has renewed calls for the scheme to be halted as scientific evidence shows it will not help to stop the spread of bovine TB.
Three counties, Somerset, west Gloucestershire and north Dorset were subject to culls in 2015 and it has been officially announced today (Monday 30 August) Defra will be licensing seven new areas.
Two areas in Cornwall including the northern area, north and south Devon, south Herefordshire, Gloucester in the north Cotswolds and west Dorset have been added to the list with up to 14,874 badgers being killed across the ten areas – despite strong public opposition to the scheme.
The RSPCA has long maintained the only way to tackle bovine TB is through more rigorous testing, improved biosecurity and cattle husbandry – not killing badgers.
MPs are due to debate the culls in parliament next week (7 September) and now the animal welfare charity is urging people to contact their MP to voice their opposition to Defra’s plan.
Assistant director of public affairs at the RSPCA David Bowles said: “We have huge sympathy for farmers and we want to work with them to try to tackle this disease but we are extremely concerned as we believe that culling badgers will not help to eradicate bovine TB.
“The trouble is that the Government has moved away from using scientific evidence as a basis for the scheme and are now killing badgers for the sake of it. Government is fixated on the idea that killing badgers will solve the problem of bovine TB but it is a costly distraction that is not helping anyone.
“As culling can't be selective, many healthy badgers have been slaughtered as collateral damage. As many as six out of seven badgers killed by the cull could be bTB free, but we will never know as none of the badgers killed as part of the cull have been examined to see if they have TB.”
He added: “We believe there is a huge amount of opposition to the badger culls not just from animal welfare campaigners but also the public, scientific experts and from many in Parliament itself.
“Bovine TB is a devastating disease and it is of major concern for cattle and dairy farmers – but we do not believe culling badgers is an effective way to manage the disease.
“Methods should be based on available scientific evidence and expert opinion. Alternatives include stricter controls on the movement of cattle, increased levels of cattle testing, improved biosecurity, and vaccination of both badgers and cattle.”
Anyone who would like to get involved with the RSPCA campaign to stop the culls should visit: www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/badgers
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