Spare a thought for our British badgers today...
Today the second phase of the four year badger cull starts, despite not only all the opposition and evidence against the cull. But also despite the independent monitoring of last years phase showing that it was ineffective and inhumane!
So what is different this year... well, this year they don't have the independent monitoring!.. I'll just let that sink in for a bit..
Yep, you read it right, last years independent monitoring reported that the cull was ineffective and inhumane. So the answer?... Continue this year anyway, but don't have the independent monitoring!
The cull is a hugely controversial topic, and I won't bang on about the reasons why I think it shouldn't go ahead/won't work... If you want to see that, go back through the archives to around about March last year I believe. But for those unsure on what has happened since the first trial, here is a brief outline.
Last year as part of the trial, nearly 1,000 badgers were culled in each of Gloucestershire and Somerset. Neither of these numbers reached the 70% target deemed necessary to help reduce TB in cattle herds in those areas.
The cost per badger culled was estimated at £4,000... that is per badger!
The independent monitoring reported that the cull would be ineffective in controlling TB in cattle, and that the cull was inhumane with many badgers suffering.
This year the cull will not have the independent monitoring, although it will be monitored by Natural England.
Last week the government announced plans to trial some vaccination of badgers in areas around the cull zones in an attempt to create buffer zones.
Now don't get me wrong. Britain has the highest rates of bovine TB in Europe, and it is a huge problem resulting in over 26,000 cattle being slaughtered last year resulting losses into the many millions of pounds! But surely it can be seen that culling badgers is not the answer.
Arguments are there that New Zealand has greatly restricted bTB with culling, but they also have tighter movement and control regulations.
Ireland has reduced bTB with culling, but bTB has also reduced in Northern Ireland where currently no culling has taken place.
Wales has reduced cases of bTB by nearly 50% with tighter testing, and are trialling vaccination for badgers.
Previous trials in England showed that in most areas where badgers were culled, an increase in bTB was shown with the increase of infected badgers moving. In those areas where bTB was decreased, it was such a small percentage it was thought negligible.
Recent DEFRA reports show that tighter bio-security measures do reduce the risk of bTB spread in cattle.
And last years independent monitoring has reported that the cull is ineffective and inhumane!
But something does have to be done... An effective vaccine for cattle which is recognised by the EU is still believed to be about ten years away, and this is a the farmers livelihood at stake! Farmland is responsible for a vast amount of our countryside, and is vital habitat for many of our animals. People talking about boycotting farmers and their produce winds me up as much as the controversy over the badger cull.
They do need our help, and something does have to be done, it is just that all scientific evidence leads to the badger cull being ineffective and yet the government choose to ignore this and continue to go ahead with it.
Anyway, think of it what you will, but this is what our badgers think of the cull...