An online petition initiated by The Wildlife Trusts’ President Emeritus, Simon King OBE, calling for the withdrawal of licenses that have been issued by Government to cull badgers, particularly in Dorset is being supported by Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT). It argues that badger culling is a deeply flawed method for controlling the spread of the devastating bTB (bovine tuberculosis) disease in cattle.
The wildlife conservation charity, which has its own herd of cattle in west Dorset, believes that alternative methods such as badger vaccination in the short-term, implementing effective bio-security on farms, and in the long-term vaccinating cattle, are viable alternatives to culling badgers. It says killing badgers is a huge waste of public money adding that Gloucestershire and Somerset alone policing costs were more than £4.9 million per year for a method that has been scientifically shown to be unlikely to make any useful contribution to reducing bTB in cattle, and may well increase the incidence of infection.
DWT has already started a vaccination programme on its nature reserves in areas which are close to its livestock in west Dorset and is concerned at the prospects of disturbance to badger populations that culling is known to bring, resulting in possible further spread of bTB in the area.
DWT Chief Executive, Dr Simon Cripps said, “As owners of livestock ourselves, we have every sympathy with farmers who lose cattle as a result of bovine tuberculosis, however culling badgers is not the way to solve this problem and the Government know it. Dorset’s wildlife and our county’s farmers are both too important for Government to be issuing this wrong and ill-conceived advice, and so deserve better. Not only is Government not giving advice based on sound, credible science, they are building up expectations that this could succeed and causing serious divisions within communities.”
Simon continues, “Through the petition we are calling on Government to stick to evidence-based decisions, to stop wasting public money on something that performs no public service, and to give genuine support to the farming industry and wildlife by implementing a cattle vaccine (cattle are already vaccinated for up to 16 other diseases*) and associated trade agreements just as other countries have done. There is overwhelming support from rural and urban communities for stopping this cull and the bad advice that needlessly perpetuates it.”
The online petition asks Government to stop expanding the badger cull across the county. DWT is urging as many people as possible to sign it, sending a strong message that this is no longer acceptable. To sign it visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/165672. To find out more about badger vaccination in Dorset, visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/badgers.