It has been revealed that the government’s trial badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire has had to be extended because not enough badgers have been killed.
The planned objective was to kill 5,000 badgers, which is about 70% of the population. This figure is critical because it is claimed by those ‘experts’ behind the cull that only killing at least this number would be sufficient to reduce Bovine Tb by a ‘worthwhile’ level of about 16%. The marksmen recruited had killed 3,800 badgers by the end of the trial and unless they can make up the numbers during the extended period the entire trial will be deemed statistically invalid.
Professor Rosie Woodroffe, a badger expert at the Zoological Society of London and a key member of the trial team, said that the failure to kill enough badgers meant the trial should be stopped immediately. She said there is strong evidence that badgers can become more infectious and pose a greater risk to cattle if a cull fails to hit is targets because they are willing to travel further afield. She said: “When you kill badgers two things happen. The first is there are fewer badgers, but you also change the behaviour of badgers so they are more infectious to cattle. They are more likely to travel, they are mixing more with badgers from other social groups. Our evidence from the randomised culling trials was that when culls took longer than a month we saw an even greater increase in the proportion of infected. If this was my decision I would be stopping now.”
The Minister for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, has blamed the badgers for being wild and unpredictable. He told the BBC’s Spotlight: “The badgers moved the goalposts.”
Anti cull campaigners including Brian May, argue that the entire trial was invalid from the outset and it has now descended into a cruel farce. He told BBC Breakfast News: “To be honest, it’s getting more and more ridiculous. This is the third lot of figures we’ve seen, they’re widely disparate. They have no idea how many badgers there are and they keep adjusting the figures to make it look like this is a success. This was supposed to be a two week shoot; it’s already been extended to six weeks; now they want another three weeks. This has demonstrated already that free shooting doesn’t work. The only way they got to 800 badgers was by cage-trapping and shooting. If you are cage-trapping and shooting, you can cage-trap and vaccinate. There is no way on earth that culling badgers can lead to the eradication of Tb.”
BridgeNature.org has been opposed to badger culls from the outset. There was little scientific support for the cull in the first place, and even some of the scientists involved in the cull are now calling for a halt because it has obviously been a failure. We remind readers that if these trials are deemed a ‘success,’ similar badger culls would be initiated all over Britain, including East Kent.