Chief vet under fire for badger cull advice

Royal College members say extending cull could extend suffering and further spread TB

Environment Editor

A A A

The Government’s beleaguered badger cull suffered a further blow to its credibility today after 10 members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons accused Britain’s chief vet of bringing their profession into disrepute.

Nigel Gibbens, the Chief Veterinary Officer, advised the Government to seek an extension to its six-week trial badger cull in Gloucestershire this month after marksmen killed less than half the animals they had targeted in the allotted period. Natural England granted an eight-week extension to the cull which will now continue until 18 December, despite advice from the chairman of its science advisory committee that the shooting should stop.

Mark Jones and nine other members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons wrote in a letter to Mr Gibbens: “We are concerned that the advice you are giving in relation to the results of the pilot badger culls and their extension could result in increased suffering of badgers, and place both badgers and cattle in and around the cull zones at greater risk of contracting bovine tuberculosis.”

Badgers are widely believed to help spread bovine tuberculosis between cattle. However, opponents of the cull – and, in turn, its extension – argue that it will be counterproductive as fleeing badgers will help to spread the disease their eradication was intended to reduce. The longer the killing continues, they argue, the more time there is for the so-called “perturbation effect” to spread the disease.

Mr Gibbens defended his position in a letter to the vets, saying the benefits of an extended cull were  “likely to outweigh the perturbation impact of leaving a higher badger population”.

Mr Jones, who is also the executive director of Humane Society International, said: “My real concern is that the advice the chief vet is giving doesn’t take into account the full gamut of the evidence available and I think it should. He’s also advised that the cull should be extended without waiting for the results of the expert panel for the initial six-week period.”

The concerns raised by Mr Jones and the other vets come after the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, this month accused badgers of “moving the goalposts”, after he announced that another trial cull – in Somerset – had failed to reach its initial target, because it turned out that the local badger population was much lower than previously estimated.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
News
people
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced