The League was delighted by the news yesterday that the Welsh government will not be going ahead with the controversial badger cull and believes that this decision backs up the League’s view that a cull would also not be the right method for controlling bTB in England.
After years of campaigning, lobbying and legal challenges to the plans to cull badgers, the review in Wales has shown that vaccination is the best method of controlling bTB in the badger population. We are now hopeful that Westminster will look again at the scientific evidence which has shown that culling badgers is not the most effective way of dealing with this problem.
Even if the pilot culls achieve there most optimistic targets then the majority of the TB problem in cattle would remain, and there is no guarantee that the cull will even achieve anything like the targets because the plans are not in line with the original trials conducted by the Independent Scientific Group on Badger TB.
The pilot cull due to begin this autumn is not scientific. It is not randomised or replicated, and there are no controls. Farmers and landowners will be footing the bill for this expensive plan and it has been revealed that it could cost as much as £1.4 million.
In addition to the enormous costs and questionable benefits from the cull there is also a huge concern for the welfare of the culled badgers as there is a high likelihood of wounding when shooting badgers:
'Badgers have a very different anatomy to foxes and body features that might increase the risk of wounding – a thick hide, a layer of fat under the skin, a robust skull and a robust, yet elastic, skeleton. The target area for a lethal shot is different to that in a fox and may be obscured by the badgers’ bony front leg. Additionally, in the field, a badgers’ shallow body shape may present an indistinct outline under a spotlamp'. RSPCA [Taken from the League's submission on the Governments proposals]
Surely in light of this sensible decision by the Welsh government we must now have a review of the plans to pilot a badger cull in England.