Team Badger is a coalition of organisations who have teamed up to fight the planned cull of badgers. The coalition consists of the RSPCA, League Against Cruel Sports, Humane Society International UK, Save Me, Stroud 100, Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, Animal Aid, Network for Animals, IFAW, David Shepherd Foundation, Conservatives against the Badger Cull, Born Free and Peta and is growing daily. We are united in our opposition to government plans to cull badgers in a misguided attempt to control the spread of bovineTB. If the badger cull does go ahead as planned at least 70% of the badger population in large areas of the country will be killed, many of them healthy. We simply cannot let that happen.
Q. WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON THE PLANNED CULL OF BADGERS?
A. A scientifically robust trial of badger culling was undertaken which took nearly a decade, cost approx £50 million 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’, and indeed, suggests that such action could even make things worse in some areas. 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 a cull of badgers will not eradicate TB in cattle in the long term and could virtually wipe out badgers in some areas in the process.
Q. IF NOT A CULL, THEN WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH BOVINETB?
A. This cull will contribute little or nothing to the long-term goal of eradicating TB nationally. We believe that vaccination of cattle and/or badgers, increased levels of testing, improved biosecurity and stricter controls on the movement of cattle are better ways of eradicating bovine TB for good. Our opposition to a badger cull is based on solid science, not sentiment.
Q. WHAT ARE THE DETAILS OF THE PLANNED CULLS?
There will initially be pilot culls in two areas of England in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire though the exact parameters of the culls will not be made public. These ‘pilots’ are supposedly designed to assess the effectiveness and humaneness of culling badgers by free shooting. Importantly, they will not assess the effectiveness of culling as a control of the spread of the disease.
The culls will be paid for and undertaken by or on behalf of farmers who have been invited to put in an application for a licence to free shoot badgers to Natural England, the body who will assess against certain criteria. It is currently unclear how badger wounding rates will be assessed and monitored.
The pilot culls are due to begin at any point after mid-September.
Q. DO YOU HAVE A POSITION ON THE ‘FREE-SHOOTING’ OF BADGERS?
A. The humaneness of using the free shooting method is of grave concern to the group. If a cull is to be carried out, we believe it should be done in the most humane way possible. Because of their anatomy it is potentially more difficult to free shoot a badger in a quick humane way than, say a fox or a deer. This means there may be a high risk of wounding badgers instead of killing them outright, resulting in a slow, painful death for the animals. It is currently unclear how wounding rates will be assessed and monitored.