The Neath Port Talbot Badger Group

Protecting Our Local Badgers

THE BADGER CULL - THE REAL FACTS


The pilot badger cull due to start this summer in west and west Somerset is one of the most controversial rural issues of recent years. Some 5,000 badgers are due to be killed in the cull rumoured to be starting this month. While campaigners say the cull is inhumane and want it replaced with a vaccination programme, farmers say urgent action is needed to stop the spread of bovine TB which is destroying livelihoods.

Those opposed to the cull fully appreciate that the disease is devastating to farmers, and that it must be tackled with urgency. However, apart from the scientific evidence that clearly recognises that a badger cull is not the answer, history shows over many decades, which has seen hundreds of thousands of badgers culled (mostly healthy), that this strategy is ineffective.  And... here we are again, in 2013, with a bovine TB problem worse than ever… and yet another pilot cull looming!  With regard to the current cull the public deserve to know the facts, so a few are highlighted below:

Facts (indisputable)

Government science is unreliable. BTB testing is inadequate and gives many wrong results so disease is passed between cattle unknowingly when cattle are moved.

Cattle movements have quadrupled between 1999 (3,373,646) and 2010 (13,690,294) increasing the spread of the disease.

Some farmers themselves have been found to be illegally contravening government bTB control measures, including the illegal movement of cattle around the country, and the swapping  of cattle ear tags - which may result in retaining bTB-positive animals in their herds while sending less productive animals to slaughter in their place.

Government expert Lord Krebs, who originated a 10 year culling trial in which 11,000 badgers were killed stated: “The scientific case is as clear as it can be, this cull is not the answer to bTB in cattle". "People seem to have cherry-picked certain results to try and get the argument they want."

Badgers can spread bTB but so can 30 other mammals including deer and dogs (kill them all?)

Science shows that culling badgers causes them to roam beyond their own territories ('perturbation affect'), making matters worse.

Putting bTB in context, 25,000 cattle were slaughtered because of bTB in 2010 but 300,000 were slaughtered prematurely for other reasons including mastitis and lameness.

Government figures show that the culling of badgers for four years will only result in a 16 per cent reduction in bTB and this will take nine years killing many thousands of healthy badgers.

Ministers say not to cull will cost an extra £1 billion over the next 10 years in farmer compensation, but this isn’t supported by their own statistics (government spin)

Vaccinating badgers will have the same effect but would be cheaper, more humane and produce quicker results.

The costs of the two trial culls planned are estimated to be nearly £5 million, which will exceed the cost of a badger vaccination programme.

Trusted experts against the cull include David Attenborough, Chris Packham, the RSPCA, Wildlife Trusts and Gloucestershire councils.

The Welsh Government scrapped its planned cull and vaccinated badgers instead. The proposed cull is cruel. It is impossible to humanely kill a badger with rifles as they roam at night time, many will be wounded.

The Government confirms that the cull's humaneness will be tested by listening to the cries of badgers shot in the cull. (unbelievable!)

In Government trials only about one per cent of badgers were seriously diseased.

Night time shooting of badgers is untested and is a serious public safety risk for people as the bullets can travel up to two miles. Despite this local people will not be told when shooting takes place.

Defra (Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) has been accused of giving out misleading information and cherry picking scientific evidence in an attempt to support their claims that culling is the answer.   If you find it difficult to believe that a government department would deliberately resort  to such activity, then please read the article below, sourced from http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/defra-cull.html#cr  (the official website of Wildlife Travel magazine)…

HEADLINE - DEFRA ordered to release badger cull information

August 2013: Information Commissioner says DEFRA wrong to withhold information on badger cull suffering
The Information Commissioner has ruled that DEFRA was wrong to refuse animal charity 
Humane Society International/UK access to information about how it intends to assess the 'humaneness' of its badger cull. DEFRA has been given 35 days to disclose information that HSI UK first requested under the Freedom of Information Act in October 2012 about how the suffering of badgers will be assessed during the imminent pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

HSI UK is extremely concerned that the Government's plans for badgers to be shot at night with high velocity rifles and shot guns will result in considerable animal suffering. So in October 2012 HSI UK asked DEFRA to make public information related to its so-called 'humaneness assessment' - one of the key stated purposes of the pilot culls.

‘Delay and time wasting'
After much delay and time wasting, in May 2013 DEFRA supplied a heavily redacted document which withheld substantial amounts of information relating to three of HSI UK's five questions. It cited various sections of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 as its excuse for refusing disclosure. HSI/UK appealed and following an investigation, the Information Commissioner's Office has found in HSI UK's favour, declaring that DEFRA incorrectly applied the EIR and ordering it to disclose the redacted information.

Extensive physical injury
HSI UK's persistence has already forced DEFRA to reveal that it expects many badgers will be shot and mortally wounded but not killed outright during the pilot culls. Official DEFRA documents reveal that these animals are expected to suffer extensive physical injury and die from shock, excessive bleeding and starvation due to physical injury.

Some 240 badger carcasses will be collected for examination, however, DEFRA has consistently refused to answer how these carcasses will be selected for post mortem examination; what examination protocols will be used to determine humaneness; and how shot and wounded badgers who retreat underground to die (and will arguably suffer the most) will be factored in to the humaneness assessment.

Under the EIR, a public authority can refuse disclosure if it would adversely affect (amongst others) public safety and the environment. DEFRA argued that it would but the ICO said it was not justified in doing so, concluding that "the Commissioner does not accept that disclosure would have the adverse effect claimed."

Mark Jones, HSI UK's Executive Director, said: "DEFRA has been stalling for many months, clearly trying to avoid making public this information about how the suffering of shot badgers will be assessed. We are delighted that the Information Commissioner has instructed DEFRA to reveal the information, information that should have been released many months ago so that the proposed methods and criteria could have been examined by independent experts before a single badger is shot. DEFRA has used every trick in the book to prevent disclosure, including delay and misuse of regulations designed to ensure government transparency. In doing so it has undermined its own efforts to defend the credibility of this flawed policy, and the Coalition's grand post-election promises for more open government.

‘We look forward to receiving the withheld information on humaneness assessment without further delay, and call upon Ministers to postpone the badger cull to allow time for its humaneness assessment methods to be scrutinised by independent experts."

DEFRA has 35 calendar days to release the information, or 28 days to appeal the decision.