Animal Aid

English Badger Consultation: suggested responses

Posted 16 November 2010

The closing date for this consultation is 8th December 2010. Below are our suggested responses to the consultation questions. Please do put these in your own words if possible.

Please note that the consultation is not completed online, you will have to either email or post in your answers to the address given at the end of the document.

Question 1: Comments are invited on the options, costs and assumptions made in the Impact Assessment.

I oppose the killing of all wildlife on ethical grounds. Additionally, the scientific opinion does not support a cull.

Culling badgers could make matters worse. The proposed scheme cannot be effectively monitored and outcomes cannot be assessed. It is deeply flawed, as well as inhumane and unethical.

Bovine tuberculosis is already declining, unlike other painful and debilitating conditions that affect dairy cows, including mastitis, diarrhoea, infertility and lameness. It is cynical of farmers and the government to ignore these conditions, which could be eased significantly by improving the lives and environment of cows, and instead to focus on bTB and blame a wild animal. Farmers need to get their house in order.

Question 2: Do you agree with the preferred option?

No. For all the reasons above.

Question 3: Do you agree that this approach, of issuing licences to farmers/landowners, is the most appropriate way to operate a badger control policy?

No. A more flawed scheme would be hard to imagine. Farmers will be allowed to shoot free-running badgers who could flee and – if infected with bovine TB – infect other animals further afield. This method is likely to increase the spread of bTB, not limit it. Shooting at a free-running animal – who is unlikely to even have bTB – can never be described as ‘appropriate’.

Question 4: Do you agree with the proposed licensing criteria for culling and vaccination?

No. The licensing scheme is a mess: farmers can join together or work solely to shoot or vaccinate badgers. They do not need to kill all badgers, nor do they need to test to see whether the killed badgers have bTB. The effects of perturbation should be limited only ‘where possible’. Badgers will not be tested for bTB. The licensing criteria are meaningless.

Question 5: Do you agree that the proposed methods of culling are effective and humane?

Culling is neither effective nor humane. Many MPs, when writing about the Hunting Act, claim that shooting free-running foxes is cruel. Clearly, this is also true in relation to shooting free-running badgers (unless the government is deliberately cherry-picking arguments to suit its own agenda?)

Alan Haselhurst MP, for example, writes that shooting foxes may not cause instant death and so he feels it can be ‘very cruel indeed.’

Damian Collins MP writes: ‘Where a fox is shot but not killed, it will die in great pain.’

Zac Goldsmith MP writes that the use of guns to kill foxes ‘has increased animal suffering’.

Clearly, shooting free-running badgers is not humane. The scientific research has also shown that culling badgers is not effective.

Question 6: Do you agree with the proposed use of vaccination, particularly its focus on mitigating the perturbation effects of culling?

No. Scientific studies have shown that culling badgers causes perturbation. There is no evidence that vaccination in combination with culling can curtail this. There should be no cull.

Question 7: Should anything further be done to encourage the use of vaccination?

Vaccination on its own would be beneficial. The development of an oral badger vaccine should be a priority. The coalition government’s decision to cut the vaccination programme from six areas to just one is a huge mistake. The full programme should be reinstated immediately.

Question 8: Do you agree with the proposed monitoring?

The proposed monitoring is inadequate and cannot reveal inconsistencies or non-compliance with licensing conditions.

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