The Wildlife Trusts are calling for the Government to drop badger culling from its proposed strategy to tackle bovineTB in England.
With an extension period now under consideration for the pilot badger cull in Somerset, The Wildlife Trusts believe the failure to meet required targets should lead the Government to abandon its culling policy.
A failure to cull the target numbers of badgers
Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“Defra’s flawed badger cull policy remains a tragic distraction from tackling this devastating disease.
“The pilot culls have clearly proven that the necessary criteria cannot be met; there has been a failure to cull the target numbers of badgers and a failure to do so within the set timeframe. These failures, combined with huge uncertainties over the badger population’s true size in the cull zones, carry very real implications for remaining badger populations and run the risk of further spreading the disease from disrupted social groups of badgers, known as the perturbation effect. If the applications to extend the pilot culls are granted, this will seriously undermine the Government’s strategy.
“We are now calling on the Government to focus efforts on badger and cattle vaccination, stricter cattle movement controls and improved biosecurity.”
Serious concerns that a wider roll-out is still on the table
The Wildlife Trusts strongly oppose the pilot badger culls and any proposals for rolling out culls beyond this year. This scale of culling of a native mammal, which is a valuable part of the ecosystem, is simply not justified by the small potential reduction in bovine TB incidence in cattle.
Paul Wilkinson added: “We have serious concerns that a wider roll-out is still on the table, despite the obvious failings of these pilots. It is essential that MPs have the opportunity to debate the outcomes of these pilot schemes before such action is even considered.”