RSPCA condemns new badger cull targets which ignore study based on government's own scientific data
The RSPCA has condemned the Government's decision to expand the badger cull to 11 new areas despite a study revealing that culling badgers has no effect on bTB in cattle. The charity is repeating its calls for an immediate and permanent halt to the programme.
The announcement of new culling targets comes despite the Westminster Government making a commitment to move away from culling badgers in favour of vaccinating, and to develop more cattle-based measures such as a more sophisticated TB testing regime.
The RSPCA's long-held view that the cull is cruel, pointless and ineffective is borne out by a recent study analysing the government's own data which found no evidence that culling badgers has had an effect on bTB in cattle.
Adam Grogan, RSPCA's head of wildlife, said:
We're dismayed that the Westminster Government is persisting with its inhumane and ineffective badger cull despite its commitment to 'government-supported badger vaccination and surveillance'.
A landmark report published earlier this year confirms our long-held assertion that culling badgers doesn't prevent bovine TB in cattle.
We're calling on the Government to immediately end culling, fast track its proposed improvements to cattle-based measures, along with cattle and badger vaccination, which will be the best solution for badgers, cattle and farmers.
The government did announce an initiative earlier this year to simplify the badger bTB vaccination licence, which could help to reduce bTB in badgers. The RSPCA states if the aim of Defra's policy is to eliminate bTB in cattle, then the focus should be on cattle-based measures since research shows that the overwhelming majority of bTB comes from cattle infecting cattle.
The RSPCA has always maintained that the elimination of bTB in cattle requires more frequent and improved cattle testing, better management of cattle movements and incentives to improve biosecurity in herds. We believe that badger vaccination is an important tool that has a role to play in certain situations as an alternative to culling and to protect badger populations but we cannot support its use as an exit strategy from the badger cull which should end immediately.
What is even more appalling is the Government's own acknowledgement that, for Area 54, Lincolnshire, badgers were "originally infected multiple times by cattle" emphasising that badgers are the innocent victims of a policy that fails to stop TB being moved around the country by cattle.
For too long the Government has chosen to look the other way as it determinedly pursues an ill-conceived course of action - culling - with no scientific basis and no success, instead promoting cruelty and wasting time and money. It should now wholly embrace the conclusive study which reveals its culling strategy is futile and put in place a cattle-focused bTB eradication policy that is based on science rather than political expediency.
We're calling on the Government in England to fast-track its proposed improvements to cattle-based measures, along with badger vaccination, which will be the best solution for badgers, cattle and farmers.
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