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Bad news for badgers – yesterday (12th July) The Badger Trust failed in its High Court bid to prevent the mass slaughter of badgers in England. The government argues that this measure is necessary to prevent the spread of bovine TB around cattle populations – a fundamentally flawed approach to a problem that has nothing to do with indigenous British carnivorous mammals and everything to do with dangerous modern intensive farming practises.
The Department of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) plan for a trial cull in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset was deemed lawful; this time round the combined agribusiness and shotgun wielding oik lobbies won out against animal welfare concerns and science. The scientific consensus is that a cull is not only unnecessary but could actually exacerbate the problem.
The only bit of good news so far is that the bloodlust seems to be confined to the English – all other parts of the UK – Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have proved considerably safer territory for the monochrome mustelids. Scotland has no plans for badger culls, and both the Northern Irish parliament and the Welsh Assembly have both recently ordered a programme of vaccinating rather than killing.
The government's policy has left observers scratching their heads. DEFRA's own study into the effectiveness of culling, the UK Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), showed that far from reducing incidents of TB a cull can actually contribute to the spread of one, as badger populations disperse when they flee from their hunters, taking any diseases they have to new areas where they may infect new cattle herds. Not only did the government's own study suggest that a cull may not work, but the 'strategy' about to be implemented in England is untested and much more risky to all concerned – whereas in the RBCT badgers were trapped then shot, the policy about to be rolled out, “free shooting”, is exactly that – paying people to shoot badgers as they roam.
The “problem” of bovine tuberculosis, which would disappear overnight if everyone turned vegan, is in reality a problem of modern farming. Disease is spread as cattle are moved around the country as the market dictates, and cows are given feed that is high in calories to fatten them up but low in the nutrients needed to maintain healthy immune systems. But, rather than challenge the beef and dairy industry, UK plc decided to shoot wildlife.
The decision could lead to some 40,000 badgers being killed over the next 4 years if plans are not stopped. The only legal option left is is the European Court. But the badgers' best bet is a campaign of mass direct action to put a stop to this latest bout of biophobic madness that's about to unleashed against one of Britain's very few remaining large(ish) predators.
For updates be sure to check out Stop The Cull http://badger-killers.co.uk/action/
or email them at email@example.com
as well as The Badger Trust – http://www.badger.org.uk/
For the text of the legislation see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/51/contents
Previous SchNEWS articles dealing with the badger cull
Whilst Dorset hunt sabs were gathered on a public road to document the unlawful activities of the hunt, an angered rider rode his horse at speed into a hunt saboteur – knocking her from her feet and trampling over her with his horse, before riding off laughing.
Bovine TB is on the increase in the areas where badgers were shot last year, but the disease is decreasing in the rest of the country.
Seal cull abandoned after Hunt Sabs and Sea Shepherd join forces.
Otis Ferry, son of Bryan, pays thousands in compensation to hunt monitors he attacked
Debbie awaits sentencing after farce of a court process
The badgers aren't out of the woods yet, as the decision whether to roll out culling hangs in the balance.
The state-sponsored crackdown on animal rights activists continues next month, with the opening of the third 'conspiracy to blackmail' trial relating to vivisection giants Huntingdon Life Sciences in Winchester. Although there are three defendants, two are awaiting extradition from Holland, so the the third, Debbie, will stand trial alone.