Government slammed for another year of badger cull failure

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Thursday, 18 December, 2014
London, UK

Today’s Government announcement that the second year of the controversial pilot badger cull again failed to reach its target number and will continue next year was condemned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), other NGOs and MPs from across the political spectrum.

In a written statement to the House, Defra Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss announced that while the cull in West Somerset had reached its target, with 341 badgers killed against a minimum target of 316, in Gloucestershire the cull had fallen well below its minimum target of 615, with 274 badgers taken.

IFAW expressed its extreme disappointment that this inhumane and ineffective cull looks set to continue next year and more badgers will suffer unnecessarily despite another year of failure.

Eminent scientists and wildlife experts have stated their opposition to this cull from the beginning because it will not significantly reduce incidents of bovine TB.

Last year’s pilot culls were proved to be both ineffective and inhumane by the Government’s own Independent Expert Panel, yet, surrounded by much controversy and a case in the High Court, this year’s pilot still went ahead without any assessment from truly independent external experts. The cost of the badger cull has been estimated at £5,200* per badger, almost 10 times more expensive than a Welsh Government driven vaccination-based policy in Wales.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Continuing to claim that these culls have been successful is a farce. They failed in year one, they’ve failed again in year two. Countless badgers have been killed unnecessarily and the Government should be looking for science-led approaches rather than continuing this culling circus.

“The solution to bovine TB lies in better control of cattle movement, increased biosecurity and the development of a cattle vaccine. If the wildlife reservoir does need to be addressed, vaccination should be the way forward, not culling.”

The badger cull goes against the views of the overwhelming majority of the UK public who wish to see British wildlife protected. A Guardian newspaper poll found more than 90% of people opposed to such action.

Chris Williamson MP (Labour), said: “Of course bovine TB is a dreadful illness, but the way in which the Government has gone about tackling it is precisely the wrong thing to do and is likely to be making matters worse. I do not understand why they are ignoring the overwhelming scientific view that the badger cull should be abandoned and a different approach taken.”

Adrian Sanders MP (Lib Dem) said: “As a Devon MP I have every sympathy with farmers who have lost stock through bovine TB. No-one should underestimate the devastating impact TB has on cattle and farming communities and it is because of this that we must find the best way to reduce the pain and cost. The evidence does not support this method of tackling bovine TB.”

Anne Main MP (Conservative), said: “We can’t possibly have a roll-out of badger culling after two years of successive failure. Failure by the Government’s own criteria. I believe in learning from our mistakes, and whilst some of the Government measures to tackle bovine TB are to be welcomed, failing badger culls is not one of them.”

Ends

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling in the IFAW UK Press Office on 020 7587 6708, mobile 07917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org

Notes to editors:

* https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-30058872

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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