Badger Cull Decision: Two Sides to Every Story

UK - The recent government decision against a badger cull in England has come under criticism by the farming community, but animal welfare organisations have hailed it as a positive move.
calendar icon 7 July 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

"This would be the right decision based on compelling evidence, particularly because the most authoritative scientific research ever undertaken on the subject recommended against badger-culling as an effective way of controlling TB," said Dr Rob Atkinson, RSPCA's head of wildlife science.

However, National Farmers Union President Peter Kendall has warned a negative decision from the Secretary of State on culling badgers as part of a TB control strategy would be completely devastating to farming families and their businesses.

"Current speculation on a negative decision on badger culling remains just that, speculation, based on a leaked report", said Mr Kendall. "However, in the event the Secretary of State's decision on tackling bovine TB does not include measures for badgers, it is clear this would be a devastating decision for farmers and their families, for their businesses and for the wider rural communities in areas which have been ravaged by TB.

The RSPCA does not agree. They say that evidence indicates that the majority of badgers are not infected with TB. "Our opposition to a badger cull is based on solid science not sentiment", they stress.

"The RSPCA cares as much about cattle welfare as badgers. We are keen to work with farmers and governments to find positive solutions to the challenge of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle."

Mr Kendall eluded to the 28,000 cattle culled with TB last year. "Already in the first quarter of 2008 another 13,500 cattle have been lost. This sort of needless waste of productive animals is unacceptable and calls into question the Government's attitude not only to food security but also to animal welfare.

"A negative decision on badger culling would condemn not only tens of thousands more cattle to death, but also thousands of badgers in areas currently free of TB. It would be nothing short of a disaster."

Mr Kendall said the NFU would seek immediate legal advice to challenge any negative ruling in the courts. He also warned that wider discussions with Government on cost and responsibility sharing on animal disease would be untenable, faced with what could only be described as an abdication of responsibility on the issue of TB.

Meanwhile the RSPCA is calling on the government, farmers and animal welfare groups to work together to build a long-term strategy to fight bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

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