"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 16 July 2012

Please help save our Badgers

The Badger Trust's legal bid to block badger culling in England very sadly failed last week in the High Court.

Culling may, therefore, now go ahead in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset later this year.

The RSPCA has launched a "Don't Shoot - Take action for badgers facing a cull" campaign. The RSPCA believes that vaccination, increased levels of testing and improved biosecurity measures are more effective ways of dealing with the problem in the long term.

DEFRA has made u-turns before in the face of public outrage such as over the sale of forests and, more recently, over their proposed "research" programme into dealing with buzzards who "threatened" young pheasants.

So, if you feel as strongly opposed to the proposed badger cull, as I do please visit the RSPCA's website :


and send an email to Caroline Spelman - it will only take a minute of your time and, if enough people bombard her perhaps it will save the lives of many thousands of badgers most of which will be disease free.

Many thanks.


Rohrerbot said...

That is a terrible idea. Who makes these decisions??!!! It's similiar to a trapping campaign going on for wolves in Wyoming. Trapping is terrible to the animal. How is any of this okay?

Ragged Robin said...

Rohrerbot - It is a terrible thing Chris.

I'll try and summarise the situation.

Basically, the Government wish to reduce incidences of cattle tuberculosis (bTB) and, as badgers carry this disease and may infect cattle, the Govt. have decided to implement badger culling by controlled shooting initially in trial areas.

There are many other far less drastic measures that could be taken which would be far more effective e.g.

Cattle mainly catch bTB from other cattle and the risk of the disease spreading is higher when cattle are kept in close proximity to each other in enclosed areas. Therefore, improved husbandry and efficient movement controls and more frequent testing for bTB would help stop the disease.

The farmers could improve biosecurity to reduce the risk of wildlife such as badgers and deer contaminating cattle food and water.

Most importantly badgers can be vaccinated against bTB (they are doing this instead of culling in Wales) and this would seem by far the most humane, cost effective and efficient way forward. In the long term a vaccination for cattle would be even more effective once the test which is being developed which can differentiate between cows infected with bTB and those that have been vaccinated is available.

I am totally against the culling because it is totally inhumane and the cull will be non-selective targeting healthy as well as diseased badgers. There is also the risk of badgers not being killed outright but suffering a long painful death from gunshot wounds. The shooting will take place at night so there is always the risk of members of the public being shot in error!

The European badger is a protected species and only under certain circumstances e.g. to tackle diseas, can culling be approved.

Culling could lead to local badger extinction.

Very importantly, all relevant scientific evidence suggests that culling of badgers is ineffective and will not solve the cattle bTB problem. A culling trial some years ago costing £50 million pounds by the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) demonstrated the ineffectiveness of such culling. In their summary and recommendations they said that "Given its high costs and low benefits we therefore conclude that badger culling is unlikely to contribute usefully to the control of cattle TB in Britain and recommend that TB control efforts focus on measures other than badger culling" This same trial demonstrated that even in bTB hotspots less than 1 in 7 badgers was infected.

Scotland has gained official bTB free status without one badger being culled!

The Random Badger Culling Trial by the ISG discovered in its trials that killing some badgers can lead to "perturbation" i.e. the remaining badgers in the sett will scatter to other areas thus increasing the disease to cattle on the edge of test regions. Under current Govt proposals I don't believe that this peturbation effect will even be monitored.

In 2009 and 2010 when no badgers were culled but there were improvements in the testing of cattle, movement controls and cattle husbandry, there was a 15% reduction in the incidences of bTB in cattle.

I could go on and on Chris.....
but basically I feel that yet again the badger has been made a scapegoat and, in my view, it is a political decision to cull badgers and not one based on sound science!

Sorry for the long comment but this is one issue that I feel really really strongly about!

Rohrerbot said...

No no. No apology needed. I get on these rants as well and thanks for the detailed info. It sounds like some poor decisions over the past decades have really affected the wildlife in your various areas. And this is the same government putting a railway in a protected area full of wildlife? The same one that has made a sparrow seem like a unicorn? I don't understand any of it. It's not right. Are there people that care out there? Taking an animal, bird, insect out of the environment is a huge risk. An extinction will cause other biosystems to fail as well. They are all linked together. But none of that matters.....sad. Maybe the rain has affected their decision making:(

ShySongbird said...

I'm with you all the way on this Caroline. I remember signing a petition against it ages ago and honestly thought that when the Welsh decided against it we would too. So thank you for flagging this up again. I have of course just been over to the RSPCA and signed.

By the way, when I replied to your comment on my Marbled White post, I hope I didn't mislead you by saying you might see them at Ufton next year. They will of course still be around for a while yet. How they are doing at Ufton this year I don't know though. We went earlier in the year and felt the reserve didn't seem as well maintained as when we had visited in the past.

Ragged Robin said...

Chris - Hi again. Thanks for all your support on this and I agree with your comments. Yes, it is the same Govt pressing ahead with HS2 although originally these plans were put forward by the previous Govt! And the current Govt promised to be the greenest ever!!! - you have to laugh really. There are a lot of wildlife organisations that do try and help wildlife and object to various things but at the end of the day I suppose there is only so much they can do.

Shy Songbird - Hi Jan - Many thanks for signing on the RSPCA website. I am just hoping the Badger Trust appeal. I also think there is another application to stop the cull to the European Court by the Humane Society??????It will be a dreadfully sad day for badgers if this cull goes ahead.

Thanks for the info on the Marbled White! No, its ok you didn't mislead me in any way at all! Not been to Ufton - its the usual problem of trying to get someone to come along to these places with me. I noticed from the "Birding Afloat" blog that a MW was seen at Brandon Marsh recently. I am suffering severe withdrawal symptoms from not visiting Brandon but things are still very hectic with mum (so much to deal with) that I am only getting time to visit places local or places that I happen to be passing near to on my travels.