Badger cull myths exposed in new report

Ill-fated Government pilots could start today

On the eve of a potentially devastating badger cull, Team Badger has published a report exposing the badger cull myths which underpin these misguided plans.

Team Badger’s ‘Mythbusters Report’ has been published to correct inaccuracies and misconceptions being used to justify the killing of thousands of badgers. The group, made up of the RSPCA, IFAW, the Humane Society International (UK), Born Free, Dr Brian May’s ‘Save Me’ organisation, the League Against Cruel Sports and many other national and local organisations, aims to demonstrate that the near-extermination of the badgers will have little or no impact on reducing bovine TB in cattle.

Despite overwhelming scientific, parliamentary and public opposition, the Government confirmed last week that it will still go ahead with a cull of badgers, which could start as early as tomorrow (Saturday 1 June). Alarmingly, Defra have also indicated that the plans could quickly be rolled out further and wider following the six week pilot in parts of West Somerset and Tewkesbury.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said:

“There are many myths in circulation about badgers and bovine TB being used to justify this cull. They are unscientific, dangerously inaccurate and need to be exposed.

“We care about cows and badgers alike. It is time to set the record straight and tell the truth that the cull will not help the cattle or stop bovine TB.

“Only a full vaccination of badgers and cattle coupled with better bio-security on farms can do that.”

The myths busted in the report include:

  • MYTH: Control of wildlife is the only way of getting rid of the bovine TB in cattle
    FACT: Other countries have dealt with the problem by controlling cattle movements
  • MYTH: BTB has spread because of better legal protection for the badger
    FACT: There are many cases of bovine TB in cows where there are no badgers
  • MYTH: Badgers infected with bovine TB suffer so culling them would improve their welfare
    FACT: Few badgers have the disease (less than 15% in one study) and there is no evidence it impacts on the badger population
  • MYTH: It is cheaper to cull than vaccinate
    FACT: When the costs of policing the cull, which the government estimate at over £2 million per area, and the administration costs are added in, the bill could reach £10-20 million if the cull is rolled out as proposed
  • MYTH: Vaccination of badgers is not a practical solution to the problem of bovine TB
    FACT: Badger vaccination programmes are successfully tackling the disease in England and Wales
  • MYTH: Culls in Ireland, USA and New Zealand have proved this method could work in England
    FACT: There are many differences between these countries – in Northern Ireland bovine TB is reducing without a cull
  • MYTH: Many scientists support the cull
    FACT: The government’s own scientific group said culling will make no meaningful difference and many scientists agree it could make things worse

Team Badger opposes the badger cull for both scientific and welfare reasons. We sympathise with farmers dealing with the problems of this disease. We care just as much about cattle as we do about badgers, but agree with the experts that a cull would be of little help in eradicating bovine TB in cattle, and could even make it worse in some areas. We stand ready to work with the farming community to deliver more effective alternatives including the vaccination of both badgers and cattle and improved biosecurity.

Mark Jones, Humane Society International/UK Director & Veterinarian said:

“With the lives of so many thousands of badgers at stake, it is unacceptable for the public and farmers to be hoodwinked into believing that a cull will be effective in tackling bovine TB.

“Political spin is playing fast and loose with scientific facts and that’s got to stop.”

About Nick (EcoLovers founder)

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