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Welsh Badger Cull to go Ahead
Posted 10 March 2011
In a move that surprises no one, Elin Jones – the Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs – has announced that a badger cull will go ahead in Pembrokeshire. This is despite the overwhelming opposition to a cull that was expressed via the public consultation. She has, furthermore, ignored scientific evidence, which concluded that ‘badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of cattle TB in Britain’ (see below).
Since 2008, when a stricter regime of testing and cattle control measures was introduced, the incidence of bovine TB has reduced significantly. Although an effective badger vaccine already exists, vaccination has not been included as an option in the Welsh strategy. No credible reason has been given as to why.
Ms Jones has consistently promoted a government-led cull of badgers, even though the science does not support a cull, the public has opposed it via two consultations and the first cull Order failed on legal grounds in July 2010.
Local campaigners also question the cynical timing of her announcement, which was made just after the referendum, and brings the Order into force on 31st March, the final day of this Assembly. This, they claim, denies the public the opportunity to seek better Assembly representation of their views on this issue at the ballot box on May 5th.
Culls Don’t Work
A decade-long study, costing £35m, by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG), concluded that badger culling could not ‘meaningfully contribute’ to control of the disease because it displaces the badgers, spreading the disease over a wider area.
The ISG examined the outcome of licensing farmers to cull badgers and concluded: ‘We consider it likely that licensing farmers (or their appointees) to cull badgers would not only fail to achieve a beneficial effect, but would entail a substantial risk of increasing the incidence of cattle TB and spreading the disease.’
Dr Rosie Woodroffe, a badger ecologist at the Institute of Zoology in London who worked for the ISG, said: ‘I think it is scientifically among the worst options they could have chosen.’
The Welsh Assembly Government has failed to follow good science and it has failed to listen to its people. This leaves little hope for the badgers who will be trapped in cages and shot.
The only meaningful step left is economic – boycott milk. Dairy farmers are largely behind the drive to cull badgers. The milk industry is inherently cruel. By boycotting milk – and writing to the letters page of your local paper to explain why you are doing so – you will be helping to prevent the suffering of both dairy cows and badgers. Send for more info on replacing dairy products.