The government plans to decimate badger populations across the country are ludicrous and pointless. The scientific evidence has worked against this idea for a very long time, with several notable figures coming out against it. These include Brian May, former guitarist for Queen: “We don’t believe it will work, we don’t believe it’s humane.”
The fact that the badgers aren’t human aside, it’s still a bad idea. The government will be launching two pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucester, which will aim to cull 5,000 badgers between them. You may be asking, why cull badgers?
The National Farmers Union is a body which has been pressing for such a cull for years. Farmers can be totally destroyed by the spread of TB to their cattle. Such a scenario is heart wrenchingly tragic, but the solution is not this cull. As a nation, we eat far too much beef anyway. That doesn’t even come into this debate, since the culling will not effect cattle stocks at best, but severely affect them at worst. We need to invest in vaccines and stricter checks on the movement of cattle, not on pointless culls which will hurt badgers and do very little else.
Bovine TB, or Tuberculosis, is an infectious disease which hugely affects the British cattle industry. According to the BBC, “Scientific evidence has shown that bovine TB can be transmitted from cattle to cattle; from badgers to cattle and cattle to badgers; and from badger to badger.” It costs the taxpayer £500m a year to control TB, whereas the planned culls will each cost £100,000 a year, costs which will be met by the farmers in the area.
The culls: “will aim to kill at least 70% of badgers across areas about the size of the Isle of Wight in each zone.” However, the evidence that the plans will make any difference to TB is very much lacking. Social groups will be broken by the culling, forcing surviving badgers to travel to other areas, taking the TB with them. The killing will cause a widespread movement in badger populations, exactly the opposite desired effect when dealing with an infectious disease.
The cull will be carried out in one of two ways, both under cover of night as badgers are nocturnal. Marksmen will either search through an area with a rifle and a flashlight, or bait the badgers and lie in wait for them. The personnel involved will number three men in each team, a shooter, a spotter and additional transport help.
Here’s a video compiled by environmental experts, about the effects of the culling plan. They put it into much better words than I ever could: