The Nature Bible


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Badgered to death





Largely harmless and an important part of our ecosystems, human perceptions of these noble creatures has led to large culls and 'badger disposal'. One reason for this is the ongoing debate about whether or not badgers are responsible for the spread of tuberculosis. Some farmers fear that infected badgers are transmitting the disease to their cattle, despite evidence showing that the main source of transmission for bovine TB is cattle to cattle transmission. Furthermore, other species of domestic cattle can catch and transmit TB as well as wild animals such as deer.


Tens of thousands of badgers have so far been killed in what numerous independent scientists and animal welfare organisations, believe is a totally unjustified slaughter of a protected species. TV naturalist and vice president of the RSPCA, Chris Packham has joined wildlife groups in condemning a decision to extend badger culling to 11 new areas whilst re-authorising licences for 33 areas of the country where culling has already taken place, calling it "cruel and ineffective". According to Chris, "The badger cull is not the answer to stopping the spread of bovine TB amongst cattle. The RSPCA and myself have campaigned for many years against this cruel and ineffective method, which very sadly can result in badgers suffering unnecessarily."


Derbyshire Wildlife Trust - which runs a badger vaccination programme - described it as a "staggering U-turn" by the government, saying it had promised to move away from culling following an independent review into its bovine TB strategy. The Badger Trust also said that most badgers being killed were TB-free and extending culling could push the species "to the verge of extinction" in some areas.



A 2014 report by an Independent Expert Panel of scientists appointed by Defra to assess the effectiveness and humaneness of the 2013 pilot badger culls, concluded that Up to 18% of badgers shot were still alive after 5 minutes and at risk of experiencing marked pain, meaning up to 422 badgers at that time may have suffered. Since then tens of thousands more have been shot and the figure is likely to be much higher ...


The group Wild Justice have applied for a judicial review of Natural England's failure to clarify how it sets a benchmark for humaneness and argues that a lack of clarity means that an unacceptably high proportion of badgers could be left to an inhumane death.

In a statement they said: "We're very grateful to over 1,100 individual donors who have funded our legal challenge. Badgers are wonderful creatures and they need all the friends they can get these days. We believe Gandhi was right to say that you can judge the greatness of a nation by the way it treats its animals, and by that measure this government, Defra and Natural England are doing a very poor job."


Brian May, the legendary Queen guitarist and founder of the Save Me Trust also confirmed legal action, whilst calling on the government to halt the badger cull citing the Government's own Independent Expert Panel (now disbanded) who called the cull "ineffective and humane." Dr May said, "We're all hugely disappointed that the Government has decided to continue its cull policy, despite Natural England's Scientific Advisor branding the badger cull 'an epic failure.' The government should quit now and save the taxpayer more fruitless expense."


You can sign the petition which calls for an immediate ban on the shooting of badgers here