Campaigners aim to stop badger cull
Sunday 31 July 2011
A campaign group which helped force the Government into an embarrassing u-turn over plans to sell off forests has set its sights on stopping a planned cull of badgers.
The Government announced earlier this month that it would press ahead with issuing licences to shoot the wild animals in a bid to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (BTb) threatening cattle herds and costing farmers millions of pounds in lost sales.
The move has attracted criticism from animal rights groups and others after it was reported that the Government's own advisors warned that it may not be effective.
Now campaign group 38 Degrees, which got 532,000 people to sign its Save Our Forests petition to derail the coalition's woodland sell-off earlier this year, has joined those fighting the cull.
The group is not opposing a cull outright but questions whether it is the most effective way of tackling the spread of BTb, with 87% of members polled saying they should oppose it. More than 13,000 people have signed a petition in the last few days.
Writing on the group's blog, campaigner Marie Campbell wrote: "Some of us believe killing badgers would be wrong under any circumstances. Some of us believe that if the science really proved that shooting badgers could make a real dent in the cow TB problem, it would be a tragic necessity.
"But 87% of us agree on this: the government's current plans to shoot England's badgers simply don't stack up. The government's own scientific advisers warn that it won't solve the problem of TB in cattle, and could even make it worse."
Environment secretary Caroline Spelman, who shouldered much of the blame for the u-turn over forests, launched the badger cull on July 19, saying BTb would cost farmers in England alone £1 billion over the next decade if action was not taken.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) claims that nearly 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England in 2010 because of the disease, costing the country £90 million.
It is especially a problem for farmers in the west and south west of England, with Defra claiming 23% of cattle farms in these areas were unable to move stock off their premises at some point in 2010 due to being affected by the disease.
There is a vaccine that could be used to halt the spread of the disease but Mrs Spelman said there were "serious practical difficulties" with it.
"This terrible disease is getting worse, and we've got to deal with the devastating impact it has on farmers and rural communities. There's also the effect on the farming economy and taxpayers," she said.
"We cannot go on like this. Many farmers are desperate and feel unable to control the disease in their herds. And we know that unless we tackle the disease in badgers we will never be able to eradicate it in cattle.
"We are working hard to develop a cattle vaccine and an oral badger vaccine, but a usable and approved cattle vaccine and oral badger vaccine are much further away than we thought and we can't say with any certainty if and when they will be ready. We simply can't afford to keep waiting."
An early day motion opposing the cull and asking Mrs Spelman to rethink the plans, tabled by Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn in March, has so far been signed by 82 MPs. The majority are Labour and Liberal Democrats, with Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) the sole Conservative MP to sign it.
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should convert and not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...
£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Engineer is required to...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + £4200 car allowance: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Suppo...