Badgers as target practice? – Badger Trust release, 19th July 2011

Badgers are to be used as target practice. That, says the Badger Trust, is the effect of Caroline Spelman’s Commons announcement that she plans to hold two pilot culls in the south west.

Nowhere in her Commons statement was there any mention of the culls contributing to a reduction in the incidence of bTB in the pilot areas nor was there any mention of carrying out post mortems to establish whether the badgers are infected. How can it be humane to kill an animal solely to see how long it has taken to die? 

Says the Trust: The Minister claims to be seeking a comprehensive and balanced solution.  What she is proposing is likely to lead to a fragmented and confusing set of facts.  They will bear no relationship to any existing science because the method of killing – shooting free running badgers at night – is untried, untested and its results unpredictable.  The normal idea of a pilot trial is to test a proposal to see what the results are.  The proposed pilot will simply use badgers as target practice to see if gunmen can shoot them, with no regard to whether they are diseased or healthy.  

“The Minister has said that ducking the issue of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is not an option, but what she has done is to submerge the issue in unscientific confusion in a way that is likely to damage the interests of the very farmers she is trying to help.  For example, the Minister uses one set of culling figures (obtained by cage trapping badgers) to forecast the results of a completely different method of culling (free shooting).  This is not science.  It is guesswork. 

“Sadly, she also continues to place undue emphasis on the claimed reduction that badger culling might make to bTB spread.  At best that is estimated to be 16 per cent over nine years.  For far too long, too much effort and time has been devoted to badgers and far too little to the main causes of TB spread – ineffective testing, lax controls over cattle movements, and illegal activities.  She must shoulder some of the blame for that. 

“The Minister also appears to have learnt nothing about the risks associated with perturbation, a behaviour pattern which applies only to badgers.  The very best scientific evidence makes it abundantly clear: disturbing stable social groups carries a serious risk of making the spread of bTB even more of a menace, and the shooting method she puts her faith in will surely make perturbation much worse.  Her claim that this pilot exercise is science led is not sustainable”.

One Response to “Badgers as target practice? – Badger Trust release, 19th July 2011

  1. So we are to have tighter cattle controls and more culling. Test and cull has been tried for some sixty years and has failed. We are told that even with the additional culling, of mainly healthy animals, it will take another twenty years to eradicate bovine TB which has only negligible risks to human health these days. A rethink is needed. Visit http://www.bovinetb.co.uk