Badger cull “not needed” in West Yorkshire
Sep 25 2010 by Nick Lavigueur, Hudd Sat
BADGER culling is necessary but not needed in West Yorkshire, a farmers’ union has claimed.
Plans to introduce licences to trap or shoot badgers are currently being considered by the Government amid claims they spread bovine TB.
A public consultation has been launched with people being given until December 9 to express their views.
The announcement has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) who said that the disease led to the slaughter of 40,000 cattle in 2008, up from just 8,000 a decade earlier.
NFU president Peter Kendal branded the problem “out of control” and said the issue cost taxpayers £84m last year.
But many scientists and animal welfare groups – including the RSPCA – have come out against the plan, saying it will do little to solve the problem.
NFU North East spokeswoman, Rachael Gillbanks, said they disputed claims that badgers were not the source of the problem.
“There’s no question that badgers contract the disease and spread it,” she said, “but we certainly won’t be seeing a cull in this region.
“We have seen cases bordering our region but we’re largely TB free. There’s no evidence of any TB in our wildlife populations but it’s reaching endemic proportions down in the south west, West Midlands and Wales.
“We are in favour of tackling these diseases as it is moving north. If it isn’t tackled it’s only a matter of time before we have a much more serious problem than we have at the moment.”
Launching it’s ‘Back off badgers’ campaign last week, the RSPCA said it was firmly opposed to a cull based on independent scientific advice and a 2008 consultation by the previous government which showed 95% of respondents were opposed to a cull.
David Bowles, the communications director for the RSPCA, said: “Now is the time to act. The results of the previous consultation show very clearly that a badger cull is not what people want. It is vital that this new government listens to the same message as the last one.
Scientific evidence has proved culling would have a limited benefit on the disease and in surrounding areas outside the cull it may increase the disease in cattle.
“We are also most concerned that in these austere times the Government may devolve killing badgers to farmers, which would be a recipe for disaster.
“We agree there is a problem with bovine TB. However, we believe a recently-approved TB vaccine for badgers combined with increasing the level of cattle testing, improving biosecurity and imposing stricter controls on the movement of cattle are the ways most likely to be sustainable and effective in reducing the incidence of bovine TB amongst cattle.”
Senior RSPCA scientist Colin Booty said: “Our opposition to a badger cull is based on solid science not sentiment. There is compelling evidence which shows a policy of badger culling is unsustainable, and could even worsen the spread of bovine TB due to a process known as perturbation.”