“When the UK government talks about the badger cull, it uses euphemisms to hide the fact that it is slaughtering badgers at an unprecedented rate.”
This is the view of Animal Survival International (formerly Political Animal Lobby) spokesman, David Barritt, who was commenting on a recent announcement by the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, that the British government would this year review its 25-year Bovine Tuberculosis strategy.
“According to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 19 274 badgers were ‘removed’ in 2017,” said Barritt, “but euphemisms cannot hide the fact that almost 20 000 wild animals were hunted down and killed across the UK last year. This is more than were killed in the previous four years put together.”
At the same time that Defra announced the review of its Bovine Tuberculosis strategy, it proposed the extension of the badger cull into so-called “low risk” areas. According to the Department, allowing badger control in the low risk area would enable it to tackle outbreaks of Bovine Tuberculosis at the local level and help to preserve low levels of infection in cattle.
However, Barritt maintains that the badger cull is ill-conceived and expensive.
“Badger culling policy has so far cost British taxpayers nearly £40 million, even though there is incontrovertible scientific evidence that killing badgers will not curtail the spread of bovine tuberculosis.”
Barritt is critical of Gove’s initiative to review the 25-year strategy to fight bovine tuberculosis.
“The government should not be reviewing the strategy, it should be scrapping it and banning the badger cull,” he said.
The 25-year strategy outlines a range of interventions to fight bovine tuberculosis, a disease that is estimated to have been responsible for more losses among farm animals than all other infectious diseases combined.
Killing badgers, which are known to carry bovine tuberculosis, is one of the main thrusts of the strategy, even though there is mounting evidence that badgers have little to do with the spread of bovine tuberculosis. According to the latest figures quoted in The Guardian, the number of cows that succumbed to bovine tuberculosis rose in 2017 from 27 474 to 42 000.
According to Defra, the review of the bovine tuberculosis strategy got underway this month and will be completed in April. It is being led by Professor Sir Charles Godfray, a population biologist at the University of Oxford. Godfray is being assisted by a small working group.
“ASI will reflect very carefully on the findings of Godfray and his team,” said Barritt, “and we will be working closely with other like-minded organisations to oppose any expansion of the badger cull. Together with our supporters who abhor cruelty to animals, we will continue to put pressure on the British government to put an end to the cruel and unnecessary bloodbath that plays out in rural England every year and which the government condones and even wants to expand.”