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October 23, 2012

England’s Badgers Safe for Now, But We Must Kill the Cull for Good

Humane Society International/UK

by Mark Jones

I listened today as environment secretary Owen Paterson announced in the House of Commons that the British government has postponed the proposed badger cull, but only until next summer.

Whilst I am very pleased to hear that England’s badgers will be safe from imminent slaughter, we must continue to work, and use this vital time, to ensure this temporary reprieve is turned into a permanent policy, that plans to cull badgers are ended for good.

HSI/UK is ready to work together with the government and others to support all effective, achievable and humane measures to tackle bovine Tb.

The government’s badger cull proposals have been rejected by scientific experts as a disastrous policy for badgers and farmers alike. So it will be highly regrettable if the government chooses to use the next few months to stubbornly continue to work towards a policy of killing badgers.

Badger culling has no scientific credibility as a disease control tool, and serious questions remain concerning the conservation and welfare implications for badgers. A cull would see badger numbers massively reduced and risk wiping them out altogether in parts of England, without any evidence that it would significantly reduce the incidence of TB in cattle and compelling evidence that it could make things worse.

Ministers must now use the coming months to fully investigate and implement genuinely science-led and non-lethal measures including improved cattle testing and compliance, better farm bio-security, a greater focus on the welfare of cattle and the development of vaccines for cattle and for badgers.

It will be a tragedy if, despite huge opposition from scientists, conservationists, vets, ethologists, disease experts and the public at large, a supposedly protected wild mammal is sacrificed for the sake of political expedience.

Mark Jones is executive director of Humane Society International/UK.