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New badger cull zones cannot be justified, RSPCA claims

By WMNAGreenwood  |  Posted: February 20, 2014

Comments (26)

Animal welfare campaigners have claimed there is “no justification” for the “misguided” badger cull to continue, as they urged supporters to oppose extending the killing to new areas.

Two pilot culls have already been carried out in Somerset and Gloucestershire as part of the Government’s strategy to combat rising rates of bovine TB, which can be spread from badgers to cattle. But the policy has met with huge opposition with campaigners claiming culling is ineffective and inhumane and that efforts should focus on vaccination and farm measures to tackle the disease.

Devon and Cornwall are among nine counties regarded as hotspots for the disease, which resulted in 28,000 cattle being slaughtered in 2012.

The RSPCA said the “farcical and costly badger cull could very soon be extended across the country” and urged its supporters to lobby Prime Minister David Cameron.

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David Bowles, the RSPCA’s head of public affairs and campaigns, said: “There is no justification to continue with these misguided plans, let alone extend them. We care about both cattle and badgers, but science has shown the cull is not the answer to bovine TB in cattle, and the pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire last year were a catalogue of errors from start to finish.

“In total, 1,861 badgers have already been needlessly killed since August. We would urge anyone who does not want more such deaths to contact their MP, vote against the expansion of the cull and urge their councillors to stop local authority land from being used in any cull.”

Last month, Natural England, which has to authorise the culls, asked potential applicants for new licences to begin preparing their cases.

Opponents believe the Government is seeking an “escape plan” after the pilots proved costly and failed to hit kill targets, despite extensions to the time period.

Farmers, who paid for the actual culling itself, are

estimated to have spent £1.49 million, with a further £2.66 million spent on policing.

Just over £3 million was attributed to costs at Natural England, the Food and Environment Research Agency and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Anti-cull protesters also believe their case has been strengthened after it emerged the number of herds of cattle infected with TB had been significantly overestimated after a computer error. Revised figures show the number of herds under restriction last September was 3,417 – almost a third lower than the previous figure of 4,778 herds.

An announcement on possible new cull areas, as well

as governance and funding of the bovine TB strategy, is expected from environment secretary Owen Paterson this spring. His decision is pending a report on the list of culls from a panel of independent experts.

Andy Robertson, NFU director general, said: “TB is devastating farming family businesses across large parts of the country and it is vital it is controlled and eradicated.

“Controlling the spread of disease in wildlife is an absolutely essential part of this and we know farmers in many areas will be keen to see this process rolled out in parts of the country where TB is endemic and where there is a clear reservoir of disease in badgers.

“The decision on any future areas where badger controls will be carried out will be made by the government subject to the findings of the pilot areas. Badger culls will only ever be carried out in areas where TB is a major problem for cattle producers.”

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  • Charlespk  |  February 21 2014, 10:06AM

    And pennineman this has never ever been a matter of Left or Right. . Medicine; particularly veterinary medicine is just not like that. . It's just badgerists and badgerism that has brainwashed the young and impressionable, that have tried to harness the modern 'facebook mentality'. . That's why they used to burn witches and have lynch mobs. . You cannot change the epidemiology of tuberculosis or the usefulness and efficacy of the BCG vaccine by mob hysteria.

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  • Charlespk  |  February 21 2014, 9:49AM

    Badgers and bovine TB. This is the REAL unvarnished science. The INDISPUTABLE, historically accurate, scientific facts. http://tinyurl.com/bw7jpxy (open in a new window)

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  • Charlespk  |  February 20 2014, 8:53PM

    All people like pennineman have now is continual insult mmjames. . I really don't know why we even bother arguing with them. . They just continually try to reinvent the epidemiology of what is probably the oldest and certainly the most difficult to destroy known genus of bacteria on the planet. . This nautilus of the bacteria world, is extremely difficult to even stop growing, let alone kill. . And they have the cheek to criticise Owen Paterson's education; a Cambridge graduate no less. . You really couldn't make them up! Here's a message from William R. Jacobs, Jr., Ph.D. Albert Einstein College of Medicine Michael F. Price Center. 1301 Morris Park Avenue, Room 555 Bronx, NY 10461 M.bovis evolved from M.tuberculosis and as you know there's only a 0.05% genetic difference which is why it could be used to produce the 92 year old and now increasingly ineffective BCG vaccine that badgerists now all talk so much rubbish about. Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology Professor, Department of Genetics Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute http://tinyurl.com/pwtsurd (open in a new window)

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  • mmjames  |  February 20 2014, 7:29PM

    pennineman Thursday, February 20 2014, 6:32PM Anyone who has a modicum of knowledge WRT Zoonotic Tuberculosis would not waste their time reading a badger site set up by Brain May!

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  • pennineman  |  February 20 2014, 6:40PM

    Re Owen Paterson generally, I wrote this some time ago now: It's alarming that we have as minister for the environment a man whose own education in this area seems sadly deficient. Perhaps it's the private education he had. A state comprehensive might have prepared him a little better. And he considers wind energy as "useless". Again, very odd. Why useless? It reduces our dependency on finite carbon-based energy sources. What does he feel about other renewable energy sources I wonder. As for supporting fracking, this is frankly outrageous. Again he seems to lack a comprehensive education. Shale gas is just another finite energy source which to extract means uses incredibly dirty and dangerous methods. Then there's the bee fiasco. Owen seems to favour unrestricted pesticide use. This, as I pointed out to him recently, is something which was shown to be dangerous as long ago as the 1960s when Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring". And yet, 50 years later Owen wishes to take us back to pre-Silent Spring days. Simply, he lacks knowledge or, maybe, prefers not to irritate the big business which produces dangerous pesticides? Badgers? What more to say except he ignores overwhelming scientific evidence which shows a cull will not get rid of bTB on farms. But then he can ignore this, can't he? Why should he listen to the guys who know what needs to be done to get rid of bTB? Then, away from animal welfare, he voted against the smoking ban?! His education really is sadly deficient isn't it? Has he watched anyone dying from smoking-related diseases? Since the ban pubs and restaurants have been much more hospitable places. Why should I inhale someone else's carcinogens with my food and drink? I mean, really!

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  • pennineman  |  February 20 2014, 6:35PM

    And many farmers do not want culling in their area. So it's not just "townies" who oppose the culling. (As though a person's location mattered in our era of instant and global info.) Is all.

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  • pennineman  |  February 20 2014, 6:32PM

    Charlespk More (yes, pro) badger cull info for you to digest. From Dr Brian May's site http://tinyurl.com/mdzcyn7

  • pennineman  |  February 20 2014, 6:28PM

    Charlespk you might want to read this concise history of badgers and bTB I assume you prob have And, yes, it is from a badger group so their bias is clear. The evidence is, however, evidence. http://tinyurl.com/npb9oa6

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  • eponym1  |  February 20 2014, 6:23PM

    Perhaps it would be a sound idea to wait for the report from the independent review body* before entrenched supporters of both sides of the debate get too overheated :) *It will of course be interesting to see just how free of spin the report is.

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  • pennineman  |  February 20 2014, 6:16PM

    Charlespk You quote this (once again) "The INDISPUTABLE, historically accurate, scientific facts. http://tinyurl.com/bw7jpxy (open in a new window)" As though this is an independent body of vets. It isn't. It IS a very Right-wing grouping, so does not peddle the truth, just their interpretation of the facts. Is all. So if you quote them please add that they are not neutral. Seems fair.

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