Thank you to everyone who has contacted me recently about the recent extension of the badger cull.
I appreciate that bovine TB can have a crippling impact on farmers whose cattle herds have been devastated by the disease. I do, however, oppose the large-scale, indiscriminate culling of badgers. I do not believe it is an effective way of controlling bovine TB and I believe we should end the badger cull and work on non-lethal interventions to reduce the incidence of the disease in cattle.
A recent review of the Government’s bovine TB strategy found that cattle are more likely to catch bovine TB from other cattle than from badgers and that far more emphasis is needed on vaccinations. In fact, a recent study by the Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology found that the badger cull can exacerbate the small chance of badgers spreading bovine TB.
Despite the cruelty of the cull and this recent study, on 11 September the Government announced that it had authorised culling licences for 29 existing areas and 11 additional areas in England for autumn 2019. These new licences will take the number of badgers killed in the cull since 2013 to 130,000. This will push the species to the verge of extinction in many areas.
There must be an immediate halt to this inhumane and ineffective destruction of wildlife and the Government should produce an alternative strategy to tackle bovine TB. In our recent Animal Welfare Manifesto the Labour Party called for an end to the badger cull and we would work on non-lethal interventions. This would include methods such as badger vaccinations, improved cattle testing, restricting herd movement and taking measures to tackle the spread of the disease through farm slurry.
The Government says it is planning to publish a response to the review of its strategy in the near future, and I plan to follow developments on this closely.