Write to Defra
The consultation states “The Opportunity to Comment (OTC) is not to be used to declare views for or against the Bovine TB policy. If your comment is not regarding impacts to your livelihood or daily activities, you should contact the relevant authority, DEFRA. You can write to them directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website for other methods of contact.
Use your own words to explain why you think badger culling is amoral, unnecessary and unscientific, for example: the Independent Scientific Group concluded from the results of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial that badger culling should form no ‘meaningful’ part of any future bTB policy. Set in this context, the views and opinions of a minority of the farming industry that have demonised badgers should be irrelevant. However, the present badger cull has been driven by an ill-conceived election pledge in the Tory Party manifesto leading up to the election of 2010.
Subsequent evidence from the ongoing culls show that this is a bitterly divisive policy and shows how little the Conservative Party cares about conservation, wildlife-friendly farming practices and animal welfare. Combined with this, there is inadequate monitoring in order to save money. And since the badger culls have not been set up within rigorous scientific parameters, no results can or ever will be obtained that would scientifically stand the test of peer-reviewed scrutiny to say that the badger culls are ‘working’ to reduce cases of bovine TB.
The Government overview appears to contain both misleading and duplicitous statements (according to your own point of view), so you can also use information provided in the notes below.
Here are some corrections to the statements made in the consultation overview:
1. Public safety
Cull operatives have shot over people’s heads, intimidated people in their homes, slashed tyres and smashed windows. In addition, landowners in cull zones have been bullied into taking part.
2. Trespass on non-cull land
Cull operatives have been found trespassing on non-participating land and tenants have joined the cull without the landowner’s permission.
3. Location of the cull
As a signatory to the Aarhus Convention, Britain has agreed to encourage public participation in environmental matters. That participation encompasses, as a central feature, public protest on matters of environmental concern. Whereas here, Government policy on an environmental issue is a matter of substantial debate and concern, the provision of environmental information, including information facilitating protest, is vitally important.
Increased protesting in the cull areas (or better directed protesting) is perfectly legitimate in a democratic society.
4. Impacts on your business or livelihood
Badger persecution has increased exponentially as the result of the badger cull policy. Increasing numbers of badgers are killed illegally all year round. Since the public doesn’t know where or when the licenced culls are taking place, the result could be far more unrecorded and unreported illegal killing.
5. Ecological concerns
To date, despite a court order, Natural England has not released their Ecological Impact Assessment surveys. Due to budget restrictions leading to inadequate monitoring, it’s unlikely that any protection or monitoring is in place – unless publicly proved otherwise.
Badger populations are notoriously difficult to calculate and budget restrictions have led to less effective population estimates being put in place and, obviously, a risk of local extinctions.
Using the RBCT figure of 70% is meaningless since the badger culls have increasingly deviated from the methodology of the RBCT to the extent that the initial cost benefit analysis is useless and the meagre benefits of 12 – 16% reduction in the increases of bTB after NINE years of culling will not be achieved.
Freedom of Information requests have shown that participating farmers are implementing minimal to no biosecurity measures despite this Licence Requirement. In addition, breaches in testing and trading restrictions by farmers are regularly reported in both the local and farming press.
7. Badger vaccination
In at least one cull zone, cull operatives have deliberately targeted vaccinated badgers negating the efficacy of the vaccination programme plus wasting the time and resources of the vaccinators. No measures have been put in place by Government to protect vaccinated badgers. As the cull rolls out to yet more areas, this effect will be exacerbated. And the Government doesn’t support badger vaccination programmes in the High Risk Areas despite the programmes being stated as one of their ‘tools in the tool box’.
8. Who carries out the cage-trapping & shooting
The British Veterinary Authority (BVA) has withdrawn support for ‘controlled’ (or free) shooting since the Independent Expert Panel ruled that it was inhumane. Some contractors have been found to use shotguns to free shoot badgers but this has not been tested as a humane way to free shoot badgers. Thus BVA does not support this methodology either. To reduce costs, monitoring has been subsequently reduced to a minimal amount so the inhumanness of free shooting is in doubt. Obviously, I have no confidence that cull contractors will accurately report the number of badgers they shoot but can’t retrieve.
Cage trapping is only humane if carried out properly and evidence from cull zones shows that, in many cases, cages are set to kill in bad weather conditions and not regularly checked. At least one has been forgotten so if they’d contained a badger, it would have starved to death so many more might not even have been found.