The Badger Trust has challenged the Conservative Party to justify a manifesto pledge that its planned badger cull will be carefully managed and science led.

The Badger Trust has challenged the Conservative Party to justify a manifesto pledge that its planned badger cull will be carefully managed and “science led”. It also described a series of claims made by the party’s shadow environment team as “unsustainable political spin”.

The Badger Trust has challenged the Conservative's pledge on badger culling“The best available science is quite clear,” claimed the trust. “A cull will not work. It is not the answer. More than 50,000 badgers, most of them disease free, have already been killed over the past two decades in futile, state-sponsored slaughter.

“A carefully managed science led cull is one description of what will happen. The reality is more brutal. It could fairly be described as another mass execution in which thousands of badgers are summarily trapped and shot.

“In promising a science-led cull the Conservative Party is actually ignoring  the most authoritative scientific analysis ever of the role played by badgers in the spread of bovine TB. After a near 10-year, £50 million taxpayer funded research project, the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) concluded that a badger cull would make no meaningful impact on the current epidemic. It also questioned the cost benefits, as does new research.”

The Badger Trust claims that, when asked over the past several months to explain their plan for “yet more badger killing”, the Tory shadow environment team said that:

  • TB in badgers is so widespread and severe that badgers are dying in agony and that “a cull should be seen as an animal welfare intervention issue as much as a measure to protect livestock”; 
  • Culling badgers will lead to healthy badgers living alongside healthy cattle;
  • They want to target only diseased setts.

Badger Trust chairman David Williams said: “None of these claims has any kind of scientific or authoritative justification. They are simply an attempt to minimise public anger. Most badgers are TB free. Many infected animals live for years and breed successfully. It is not possible to target only infected badgers, or only ‘infected setts’ so another slaughter will take out mostly healthy animals. It is absurd, therefore, to pretend that somehow culling is a way to creating a healthy pool of badgers.

“The way forward is the raft of improved cattle-based measures recommended by the ISG and the TB Advisory Group and a continuation of the research and development of badger and cattle vaccines.”

The Badger Trust claims it will also continue to oppose and question the Liberal Democrats‘ badger cull policy.

 

Badger image ©iStockphoto.com/Dirk Frede
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