Full-scale badger cull set to get government go-ahead

Comments Off on Full-scale badger cull set to get government go-ahead

First licence expected to be issued in policy that could lead to a third of the animal’s national population being shot

Protesters at a rally against the proposed badger cull in Bristol earlier this week. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The Government is poised to give the go-ahead to the first full-scale cull of badgers in England, under a policy that could soon mean as many as 100,000 of the animals – a third of the national population – are shot dead by farmers in an attempt to protect cattle from bovine tuberculosis.

According to Whitehall sources, the first of two licences is expected to be issued as soon as Monday for a large pilot cull area in Gloucestershire, which is a hotspot for bovine TB.

Previously, there have been localised trials to test the science behind such culls. Yet despite the mixed results of the tests, ministers have decided to push ahead with the national scheme after winning an appeal-court battle brought by campaigners last week.

In 2011, 26,000 cows were slaughtered because of the disease, which can also be carried by badgers.

A decade-long scientific trial of badger culling concluded that such killing could make “no meaningful contribution”, and was “not an effective way” to control the disease. But the government is going forward with the plan under intense pressure from British farmers.

A Defra spokesman said: “We will continue to work with the farming industry so badger control in two pilot areas can start as soon as is practical.”

As yet, no badgers have been killed as part of the cull, but with only straightforward administrative steps required after the granting of the licence, culling could begin within days.

Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, is a fervent supporter of the cull, having tabled a record 600 parliamentary questions on the issue while serving as environment spokesman in opposition.

In an interview with the Farmers Guardian on Friday, Patterson appeared to cast the proposed cull as being of benefit to badgers: “I find the attitude of those who want these wonderful animals to die of this disgusting disease [bovine TB] completely incomprehensible.”

But Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, said: “The cull will cost more than it saves, put a huge strain on the police, and will spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers are disturbed by the shooting. Ministers should listen to the scientists and can this cull – which is bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.”

A source in Paterson’s department said the controversial policy was causing great anxiety: “The panic among senior officials outweighs anything since foot and mouth. It makes The Thick of It look tame and gentle.”

The government has refused to release numerous documents under freedom of information rules, including advice from the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir John Beddington, and communication with the National Farmers Union. The latter was blocked on the grounds that it was “internal communication”.

Natural England, the licensing body, said: “We are working flat out with licence applicants on processing their applications. We will issue licences to enable control activity to commence in the pilot areas as soon as is possible.”

The licence will be issued to a group of farmers and landowners who will commit to killing at least 70% of the badgers on their land for at least four years in a row.

The government’s own impact assessment concluded that it would cost farmers more to carry out the cull than to do nothing and suffer any losses from bovine TB.

The licence area must also have “hard boundaries”, such as rivers, to prevent badgers fleeing and potentially spreading the disease and making the situation worse.

The government pointed to the 16% cut in bovine TB found at the end of the 10-year trial but the new culls will use a different killing method. Instead of trapping then shooting – considered expensive – the badgers will be “free shot” by marksmen. The deaths have to occur before 1 February, when the close season for badger shooting begins and runs till 31 May.

But the start of the cull could be halted by a legal challenge to the licence. The Badger Trust, which unsuccessfully challenged the government’s cull policy in the appeal court last week, stated: “We will continue to pursue all legal means to stop culling. We will closely study any licences issued by Natural England.” The trust was successful in a previous legal action against badger culling in Wales. Campaigners are also pursuing a complaint against the government in Europe under the Bern convention, which governs wildlife and habitat protection.

A licence for a cull in Somerset is thought to be taking longer to process due to a legal issue involving the crown estate, but sources said they did not expect that to prevent the licence being granted in due course.

Animal rights campaigners are determined to halt the trials through protests at the cull sites, whose location is not being made public. Volunteers plan to patrol the zones and stop the badgers coming into the open.

The Gloucestershire and Somerset culls are trials meant to test whether free shooting is as effective as trapping and shooting.

Critics say the short time of the trials will be insufficient for comparison with the decade-long trial, but if the government calls the trials a success, killing will happen across affected areas in England and is expected to end the lives of 70,000 to 105,000 badgers – from an entire UK population estimated at 300,000.

A badger vaccination plan is replacing the Welsh cull. Vaccination is also being tested in Devon by the National Trust, and by the Wildlife Trust in Gloucestershire.

The last Labour government said an oral badger vaccine would be ready by 2015. The coalition cancelled five of six trials of injectable vaccines, and said a viable oral vaccine was “years away”.

News Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/16/badger-cull-government-go-ahead

Petition:-https://www.e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=122&ea.campaign.id=12310

Petition:-http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2214

Petition:-http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/wildlife/badgers

More Info:www.backoffbadgers.org.uk

More Info:-http://badger-killers.co.uk/

Advertisements

Brian May heads to Bristol for badger cull rally

Comments Off on Brian May heads to Bristol for badger cull rally

Queen guitarist to front event that marks launch of national campaign called ‘Stop the Cull’ led by animal welfare charities opposed to cull

Queen guitarist Brian May will be in Bristol next week as part of a rally against government plans to introduce a cull of badgers.

The rally marks the launch of a national campaign called ‘Stop the Cull’ – led by animal welfare charities opposed to the cull, including the RSPCA, League Against Cruel Sports, Save Me and Humane Society International (UK).

Campaigners will wear badger costumes at the free event. The charities are urging local people to come along and demonstrate their opposition to the cull.

The pilot culls are designed to reduce tuberculosis in cattle. Farmers and the government say the disease, which can be spread by badgers as well as among cattle, has become a huge cost to the industry. In 2010-11, nearly 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England at a cost of £91m in government compensation.

But the charities say scientific studies have shown that culling would be of little help in reducing the disease and even suggest that it could make things worse in some areas.

Research undertaken by the Independent Scientific Group that took nearly a decade, cost approximately £50million and the lives of 11,000 badgers concluded “badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain”, they say.

The Stop the Cull campaign is pushing for the government to rethink their policy and implement a vaccination programme, along with increased levels of testing, improved farm biosecurity and stricter controls on the movement of cattle rather than culling 70% of the badger population, the vast majority of which are disease free.

Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA said: “The RSPCA and many other organisations oppose the cull of badgers for both scientific and animal welfare reasons. The campaign is rapidly gaining public support and over 100,000 objections to the cull have been recorded to date. The Government should look at the science, the results achieved in Wales and change their policy to one of vaccination – let’s cure and not kill.”

Meanwhile, their campaign has drawn cross-party support from Bristol, including leading Conservatives. Bristol24-7 reported in March that the Conservative Party spokesman in Bristol West had urged the coalition government to scrap its controversial plans.

Graham Godwin-Pearson’s statement came after Conservative think-tank the Bow Group unveiled a major paper saying the culls were likely to be more costly and less practical to conduct than ministers believe.

Mr Godwin-Pearson, the principle author and Tory spokesman in the Bristol West constituency, added the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) focus should be on vaccination instead.

The rally on Tuesday will take place at College Green from 4.30-7pm.

News Link:http://www.bristol247.com/2012/09/07/brian-may-heads-to-bristol-for-badger-cull-rally-81576/

HM Government Petition:-http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

Kill the Cull, Not England’s Badgers

Comments Off on Kill the Cull, Not England’s Badgers

Published on 5 Sep 2012 by 

Time is running out for England‘s badgers — 7 out of 10 are slated to be shot in two trail areas; if the full policy is then rolled out up to 130,000 badgers in England could be killed. Not only is the government’s policy misguided, HSI is greatly concerned that many thousands of badgers could be injured and left to suffer a slow and painful death. Live in the UK? See how you can help

http://www.hsi.org/issues/badger_slaughter/?utm_source=desc090412&utm_med…

What can you do?

badger cullHundreds of supporters attended the successful badger cull public meeting hosted by the League in Taunton on Friday 20th July read more>>. A second successful meeting followed on Wednesday 25th July in Tewkesbury.

Sign our petition against the cull. You can alsodownload a paper version of the petition to get your friends and family to sign.

If you can help out the campaign by joining one of our local groups, holding a street stall, talking to your MPs or writing letters to the press then please get in touch with our campaigns team.

If you live in one of the cull areas of west Gloucestershire or west Somerset then please sign our declaration stating that you will not allow the cull on your land.

 sign up

 Why are they going to cull badgers?

The trials are part of government efforts to tackle the spread of bovine tuberculosis amongst cattle. The disease has a devastating affect on farmers and tens of thousands of cattle are slaughtered each year as a result.

Badgers were discovered to be infected with bTB in the mid 1970s and they have since been implicated in the transmission of infection to cattle.

Following a ten year study in which 10,000 badgers were trapped and culled to establish whether localised culling of badgers helps to reduce bTB the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) who carried out the experiment concluded that ‘badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain’.

Read some of the scientific arguments from both sides about the effectiveness of badger culling.

What will happen in the trials?

The trials are designed to test the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the controlled shooting of badgers. If after a year free-shooting is ruled out, then farmers will be legally obliged to continue the cull on a much more costly ‘trap and shoot’ basis for the remaining years of their licence.

If the trials go ahead then shooting will start in autumn in two areas the first in west Somerset, partly in Taunton Deane and the second mainly within the Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury, and partly in the districts of Wychavon, Malvern Hills and west Gloucestershire. The trials will take place over six weeks.

The shooting will take place at night, and will be carried out by trained marksmen using high-powered rifles. Their remit will be to kill at least 70% of the badgers in each of the trial areas. The killing will be non-selective, but the majority of those killed will be healthy. Of the small percentage of badgers which may be carrying bovine TB, very few will be infectious and therefore capable of transmitting the disease.

News Link:-http://www.league.org.uk/content/643/Badger-Cull

Petition from The League Against Cruel Sports:-https://www.e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=122&ea.campaign.id=12310

Can you help the Badger cull ? YES YOU CAN…

Please only sign this declaration if you live in the pilot areas of west Gloucestershire and west Somerset. 

You can Downloadable materials that can help you, help them!

There’s plenty of other things you can do to fight the badger cull, write to your MP (find out who represents you here), collect petition signatures or even display a window poster!

Download some of our materials using the links below.

Petition:- Urge David Cameron To Stop The Cull:http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/wildlife/stop-the-cull?source=CAMP_Badgers_030912%20remainder&utm_source=Campaigns&utm_medium=email&utm_content=ButtonTakeAction&utm_campaign=CAMP_Badgers_030912%20remainder&spMailingID=4750847&spUserID=MTQ2MTQ0OTMwOTkS1&spJobID=285750438&spReportId=Mjg1NzUwNDM4S0

%d bloggers like this: