The badger cull is over for 2016 and we now have the results…
In West Dorset alone the cull company claims to have killed 3000 badgers in just 50 nights of killing operations. That amounts to 60 badgers a night for 50 nights! I am minded to wonder if the killers can count or, perhaps, if they brought in dead animals from outside the West Dorset cull area as happened in other zones in previous years.
However, if the figure of 3000 dead is correct it makes a complete mockery of the original Natural England cull target of between 1282 and 1740 animals to be slaughtered and the original Defra badger population estimates for the area of between 1832 and 2725 animals. Presumably, the cull company didn’t manage to kill more animals than actually existed!
Once again those who hold badgers responsible for the spread of bTB in cattle have shown a total ignorance of the science and a determination to eradicate badgers from the landscape; why else would they extend the cull by 10 days when they had clearly reached the minimum target requirement in the statuary 6 weeks?
During this year’s cull those of us opposed to the killing walked hundreds of miles of footpaths and bridleways, often through farms and farmyards, in an attempt to save badgers from both free-shooting and from cage trapping and shooting. In doing so we saw the disgraceful lack of bio-security in many of our farms.
George Eustace, the Farming Minister, who claims to be “using every tool in the toolbox” in the Government’s ‘25 year plan’ to eradicate bTB (as did 2 previous ‘Secretaries of State for the Environment’), does not even require farmers to show that they have carried out even the most basic bio-security measures.
One farmyard visited was completely covered in slurry (which can support bTB bacilli for many months) and, in previous years, I have seen dairy cattle stand in the slurry for much of the winter. This farm is currently locked down with bTB. The farmer in question took part in the badger cull.
On a neighbouring farm, in the space of one week, I found two newly dead roe deer, each left to rot in a field supporting dairy cattle. Roe deer are also susceptible to bTB and carcasses left to rot attract all manner of scavengers. The farmer at this farm also took part in the badger cull.
I could go on about dead sheep left to rot (two farms), deadstock thrown over a fence into scrub, or, piles of farm bio-hazard waste dumped on a public footpath (all reported to Trading Standards or Police) but this is not meant to be a diatribe against farmers and there are, of course, many very good farms and farmers.
However, if the NFU and the farming community want to be taken seriously when they profess to be fighting bTB they have a mountain of work to do to get their own house in order before they blame the humble badger.
© Ian Mortimer