Badger cull announced

Posted on the 25th March 2009

The coalition government has today announced that it will sanction a pilot badger cull starting in the spring of 2012, which may be implemented more widely from 2013. The unpopular announcement was issued to coincide with the end of the Parliamentary session and while the phone hacking scandal continues to dominate the news.

The government plans to license farmers to shoot badgers at night as they run free. Vaccination has been ruled out as being too expensive. The effectiveness of ‘controlled shooting’, as it is known, has never been evaluated and could even increase the incidence of TB, as infected badgers fleeing from the shooting could take the disease with them. Under current government plans, ‘perturbation’ will not even be monitored.

Shooting free-running badgers will be a welfare disaster. In defence of fox hunting, many Tory MPs argued that hunting foxes was humane while shooting them as they ran for their lives was cruel. But in order to suit its own agenda, the government has now argued the exact opposite in relation to badgers.

Culling badgers is a Conservative flagship policy and its announcement comes as no surprise, even though the public overwhelmingly opposes a cull and it is not supported by sound science. While the Labour Welsh government has recently rejected a badger cull on scientific grounds, the English government remains committed to appeasing farmers, no matter the cost.

Instead of improving welfare conditions for dairy cows, and thereby reducing bovine TB incidence, farmers choose to scapegoat badgers. The government is complicit by continuing to support the increasing intensification of the dairy industry.

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