It's a New Year, and it's always at this time that people like me get all pensive - thinking about the year just gone and the year ahead. Although many will be thinking of a host of resolutions and changes, new jobs, new diet and the like, for me and many like me my thoughts always relate to animals...
Figures released by DEFRA on 16th December reveal that almost 1500 badgers were shot under license in the cull zones in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset in 2015. This brings the total number of badgers killed to almost 4,000 over the past three years, at a cost to the taxpayer that's probably in the region of £25 million.
The weight of scientific evidence and expert opinion suggests that badger culling should play no part in bovine TB control policy. Killing badgers is nothing more than an ineffective, inhumane and expensive distraction, and is proving to be a public relations disaster for government and for the farming industry. Unfortunately, it seems that scientific evidence, expert and public opinion counts for little.
The culling of badgers, as part of the Government's strategy for controlling bovine tuberculosis in cattle, has proved extremely controversial and divisive, not least because of concerns over the humaneness of 'controlled shooting' (the shooting by marksmen of free-roaming badgers attracted to bait points at night).
One thing notable about this election, more than ever before, is that it seems that animals and animal welfare are being considered as a real vote winner (or loser, depending on your level of cynicism). So, with that in mind, here's a top-line summary for people that want to make their vote count for animals on 7 May.
This week heralded an all too familiar event in the UK Parliament - a House of Commons debate on the badger cull. With the second year of culling having very recently completed, politicians and animal lovers alike are eagerly awaiting the news of just how many badgers were killed over the last six weeks in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
And so it begins again. In spite of all the evidence and against all reasonable scientific advice, the sound of rifles and shotguns will be ringing out at night across large parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset over the coming weeks, as innocent badgers are indiscriminately massacred whilst going about their nocturnal business
David invited us to his farm to video the tragic events unfolding. The result is an emotionally charged yet shocking video. We make no apologies for that. This is the distressing reality that farmers like David are having to face as bovine TB continues to devastate farming families across large parts of the country.