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Badger cull to go ahead
Posted 6 July 2011
The coalition government is expected to announce in the coming days that a badger cull in England will go ahead. It plans to license farmers to shoot badgers at night as they run free. Vaccination has been ruled out as being too expensive.
Culling badgers is a Conservative flagship policy and its announcement comes as no surprise, even though the public overwhelmingly opposes a cull and it is not supported by sound science. According to one newspaper report, government-appointed 'experts' have said that 70 per cent of badgers will need to be killed in each killing zone and that the estimated net impact would be a reduction in bovine TB (bTB) rates of between just 3 and 22 percent. A different newspaper reported the impact as anything 'up to 16 per cent'.
The government admits that it does not know what the impact will be because of 'perturbation' i.e. when bTB-infected badgers flee from the cull, spreading the disease further. It is not inconceivable that TB rates will increase following a cull. While the Labour Welsh government has recently rejected a badger cull on scientific grounds, the English government remains committed to appeasing farmers, no matter the cost.
Instead of improving welfare conditions for dairy cows - the animals most likely to suffer from bTB - farmers choose to scapegoat badgers. The government is complicit by continuing to support the increasing intensification of the dairy industry.