Our countryside could soon be peppered with the bodies of badgers, if the government's proposed cull of badgers goes ahead as planned in large areas of west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.
The cull is the government's proposed solution to control the spread of bovineTB and if it goes ahead as planned, then at least 70% of badgers in large areas of the countryside will be slaughtered. In some areas, badgers could be wiped out altogether with many healthy badgers slaughtered as 'collateral damage'. We simply cannot let that happen.
The largest ever UK study of badger culling was undertaken by the Independent Scientific Group. It took nearly a decade to complete, cost approx £50million and the lives of 11,000 badgers. Following careful evaluation of the results, and information from other areas, the Independent Scientific Group concluded 'badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain'. Even Defra's own advisory body Natural England, has said that it has little confidence in the cull delivering the predicted benefits long term.
We believe that the cull is a wildly disproportionate reaction to the problem of bovineTB and any reduction in the number of affected herds is likely to be extremely small. When extensive scientific studies show that culling badgers would do little to control the spread of bovineTB and could even make things worse in some areas, it's difficult not to conclude that killing badgers is the government's attempt to appear to be acting on this issue and to placate the powerful farming lobby, however fruitless that action may prove and regardless of the numbers of animals who will die as a concequence.
This Tuesday (11 September), the RSPCA, in coalition with a number of other organisations including Brian May's Save Me campaign and the League Against Cruel Sports will take part in the launch of a new national campaign called 'Stop the Cull'.
The Stop the Cull campaign is pushing for the government to rethink the policy and implement a vaccination programme, along with increased levels of testing, improved farm biosecurity and stricter controls on the movement of cattle. The Welsh Government, using the same scientific evidence as Defra, has begun a five-year vaccination programme of badgers in Wales.
The 'Stop the Cull' campaign is a united response by leading animal welfare organisations to the proposed badger cull. Join us at the 'Rally against the badger cull' on College Green (bottom of Park Street), Bristol, from 4.30pm - 7pm. For more details, please visit www.stopthecull.com or the campaign's Facebook page www.facebook.com/stopthecullcampaign
Follow Violet Donohoe on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@VioletRSPCA