Grassroots groups working on the ground to stop the badger cull have joined forces under the South West Alliance for Badgers (SWAB). Sharing skills, resources and information the alliance formed after news that the unscientific, inhumane and ineffective culls from last year will be continued in Somerset and Gloucestershire. News that Dorset will be spared for now is a huge relief for the county and Dorset campaigners have pledged their full support to groups in the cull zones.
A statement released today by South West Alliance for Badgers reads:
The evidence is in and couldn’t be clearer; killing badgers as a means to tackle bovine TB is ineffective and inhumane, yet the government is ignoring the science, the will of the public and that of parliament. It is clearly working to a political agenda rather than a practical or scientific one.
The cull has not only failed to provide the results claimed for it but has proved hugely more expensive to taxpayers and farmers than vaccinating badgers and potentially other alternative methods of controlling bTB in cattle. It has also caused huge divisions within the community and imposed enormous costs and operational problems for the police.
The government has consistently misrepresented the facts and the need for culling, concealing the information that UK herd infections were already decreasing prior to the pilot culls due to improved testing and cattle controls alone. Badgers have been virtually eradicated in some areas of the Republic of Ireland but this has proved no more effective in reducing cattle infections than in Northern Ireland where no badgers have been killed. However, results from Wales, where the new cattle controls have been combined with badger vaccination, have proved that this is by far the fastest, most effective and humane method of controlling bTB in cattle.
As groups concerned with animal welfare and wildlife conservation in the South West we cannot sit by and allow this pointless slaughter to continue. As with the ‘pilot’ culls last year, we will be back in the field saving as many badgers lives as we can, and we will be doing so with increased numbers, and increased determination.
In the meantime we will continue to support the many local and national badger vaccination schemes giving farmers, land-owners and councils a clear choice: either opt for unpopular, unscientific and ineffective killing, or choose a humane, scientifically proven, effective and cheaper route: vaccination of badgers.
This statement will be released by each of the member groups of SWAB and communicated to their members and is the first step in greater cooperation between the frontline grassroots groups in the South West.
South West Alliance for Badgers (SWAB) currently consists of: