Signing in support of badgers really matters

Demonstrators at the recent march in London organized to protest the badger cull.Every signature counts.

It’s easy to say, but sometimes this means much more than usual.

One such time is now.

Badgers in England are under threat; not like the threat poachers pose to elephants in South Africa; not like the threat hunters pose to wolves in Northern Europe; not like the threat global warming poses to polar bears in the Arctic.

The threat English badgers are under comes from the current UK Government –and more specifically from DEFRA. This Government seems determined to cull badgers for reasons that not only animal protection organisations do not accept as valid, but most independent experts who have looked at ways to solve the problem of Bovine TB in cattle do not either. And if the threat comes from the Government, the message from those opposed to this irrational cull should be directed at the Government.

Click here to read more on IFAW's recent efforts to combat the badger cull.

Since we are all lucky enough to live in a long term democracy we know what politicians like the most: votes. We also know what the closest thing to a vote is in non-election time: signatures for a policy or cause. We are not naïve, though, and also know that there are many ways to gather signatures that do not necessarily show a true representation of the population regarding a particular issue.

But there is one way that does it better than most: official e-petitions. These are “official” signature systems set electronically by the Government which guarantee that only UK residents can sign, and only one signature per person is recorded. In the UK, e-petitions are run by Parliament, and they may lead to a Parliamentary debate which could end up changing a policy.

When the legendary Dr. Brian May started an e-petition against the badger cull, it did not take long to reach the first milestone: 100,000. IFAW, like many other members of Team badger, helped it to reach that point, which led to the issue being debated in Parliament, and at that time most MPs showed their opposition to the cull.

A further Opposition Debate on the issue saw us lose the majority, as the parties in Government “woke up” to the avalanche of public opinion against the cull and used everything they had to stop it –a parliamentary “three-line whip” was unleashed, which is the strongest “instruction” a party may give to their MPs to vote in a particular direction. 

But the avalanche did not stop, and a second milestone was reached a few days ago: 250,000 signatures. A quarter of a million signatures is something to be reckoned with.

We now need everyone to help us to reach the third milestone. If we manage to gather 258,271 (not that many more to go, only 7,000 or so), we would have achieved the most signed e-petition ever since the Government started to use this democratic tool.

That record would be really something.

It would be something to tell the Government, using their own “tools” that cannot be blamed as “unreliable” or “irrelevant”, that the issue the UK public have cared the most about from all those which their opinion has been sought, is the irrational and unnecessary culling of badgers.

We should remember that the proposed cull of a protected mammal in the UK, in a mistaken attempt to solve a problem caused by the cattle industry, could in fact be solved completely by the cattle industry itself (vaccinations, biosecurity, better control of cattle movements) if the farmers opposing the cull were listened to, and the UK Government followed the step of other more enlighten ones –such as the Welsh Government, which chose the route of badger vaccination instead.

So, if you haven’t signed yet, please go to the epetition site, and do so, because by September the e-petition will no longer be active; if you have already signed it, find someone that has not (friends, relatives) and persuade them to do so; and if you don’t know anyone that hasn’t signed it, use all your social networks to spread the word as widely as possible, because in this instance, truly every signature counts.

We may not be able to stop the imminent badger cull trials (shooters have already been licensed to shoot badgers in some areas in Gloucester and Somerset since 1 June), but through increasing the explicit and vocal opposition to the cull, and showing it in “numbers” that politicians care about, we may actually manage to stop the spreading of the cull to other regions, which could end up killing over 100,000 badgers.

That really would be something.

-- JC

Click here to sign the e-petition, and bring us one step closer to stopping the badger cull.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime