Badger Trust today submitted its formal response to the Government’s bovine tuberculosis (bTB) consultation with a strong call to stop issuing cull licences now and end the unnecessary slaughter of tens of thousands of badgers. The Government claims this consultation will see it ‘begin the transition into the next phase of the bTB strategy’. However, despite widely publicised claims of an end to culling, a further 140,000 badgers are likely to be killed under these proposals until at least 2026. This horrific number will add to the shocking figure of 140,991 badgers already killed since the current cull began.
Dawn Varley, Acting CEO of Badger Trust said: ‘Whilst Badger Trust welcomes any suggestion of an end to badger cull licences, in the short term this proposal actually represents a continuation and expansion of culling in coming years. We estimate that the total kill figure since the start of culling in 2013 may reach around 280,000.’
‘This means the Government is only halfway through killing badgers. This figure represents almost 60% of an estimated badger population of 485,000. That is not, and will never be, acceptable to us. The killing needs to stop.’
She continued: ‘We are appalled that the Government is ignoring the welfare and suffering of tens of thousands of this protected species. It is not considering the devastating consequences for the national badger population, and associated ecosystems, in the decision-making process. The outcome could be catastrophic for the species, and we have a complaint against the Government under the Bern Convention on this very matter.’
In addition to the call to stop the slaughter, Badger Trust’s response made the following points:
An increased focus, both financially and operationally, must be placed on cattle testing to address the primary cause of bTB outbreaks, cattle-to-cattle transmission. Badgers are not the start or end point of the bTB problem, but the species continues to be blamed and punished for it.
Whilst any improvement in cattle testing to help eradicate bTB is welcomed, using a more sensitive test (IFN-y) is vital. Using the SICCT test alone can leave 20% to 50% of diseased animals undetected within herds. An increase in spending on testing is required, rather than an attempt to spread resources.
Proposed badger vaccination operations look to be ‘pilots’ with limited roll-out and will be evaluated by the Chief Vet – a Government employee. There is no indication of how a full roll-out could or would be achieved Badger Trust questions the commitment to this alternative.
Badger Trust is concerned that vaccination by cull companies will only be encouraged where intensive culling has been carried out – plus in most cases an additional two years of supplementary culling. This leaves little obvious motivation for them to vaccinate rather than cull, even if they were able to undertake the operation.
Badger Trust full consultation response can be read in the download below.
The Government Consultation closes at 11.59pm on 24th March 2021. Badger Trust will also respond to another ‘Call for Views’ from the Government on ‘possible future measures to accelerate disease [bTB] eradication in England’ Government has extended the deadline for this to 21st April 2021.