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Two badger culls will take place this August near Taunton, Somerset and Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. The government claim these will be followed by another ten new 'cull zones' every year.
This is despite the fact that no scientific case for the cull has been made – even Professor John Krebs (a man with the blood of 11,000 badgers on his hands) says that he “can’t understand how anybody who’s looked at the science would say this is a good idea.” In the trials conducted under Kreb in 1997 they found that badger culling often made the situation worse by disrupting badger colonies and causing further spread of TB.
Even if all badgers were killed (which is not being suggested... yet) whether this would have much, or any, effect on rates of bovine TB is debatable. The Isle of Man has no badgers yet it does have bTB, while Scotland – which has badgers and hasn't culled any – has no bTB. In the UK cattle outnumber badgers by about 40 to 1 – it's more likely that cows are giving badgers TB, but the market for badger steak is fairly limited so it's the badger that's gotta go.
While 30,000 cattle are prematurely killed each year after testing positive for TB, a further 75,000 are slaughtered for not being 'in calf', 7,000 because they are low yield and 120,000 because they are infertile. Though all these figures are dwarfed by the nearly 3 million cattle the UK slaughters for meat production. So TB's hardly a “chronic and devastating disease” for the industry as agriculture minister, Jim Paice claims.
Developing a vaccine and bringing back the strict regulations regarding movement of cattle would be logical ways to help actually stop the spread of TB (or better yet, just all go vegan) – though even this ignores the fact that the disease itself is fairly benign. Pasteurising milk and cooking meat prevents transmission, so unless you're tearing into some raw meat or suckling from an infected cow you should be fine.
It's also not as if the cows are desperate for a cure – even those that are infected rarely develop the actual disease, especially due to their short economic lives. Their premature slaughter at the hands of Defra is currently the only side-effect most infected cattle experience. There are two drivers behind these culls – one is an effort to reassure European markets that we've got it under control and the other is good old fashioned Tory blood-lust.
The exact location of the culls are not being made public because of fears that some pesky spoilsports might throw a spanner in the works, though SchNEWS thinks skulking about in the Forest of Dean might be a worthwhile way to spend your Summer...
Somerset's badgers are in the sniper's sights as activists vow to disrupt the cull.
A member of the Old Berkshire Hunt pleads guilty to assault.
SchNEWS goes on a fishing expedition with co-founder of the Fin Free Cambridge Campaign and finds out about the group's initial success and what's in hold for the future.
Anti-cull travellers and squatters plot land seizures.
Protesters call for the closure of Harlan Laboratories - leading breeders of research animals - and for a government inquiry into animal testing.
On International Taiji Action Day for Dolphins 2013 a demonstration was held outside the Japanese Embassy in Piccadilly, London
Whaling ship Nisshin Maru collides with Sea Shepherd vessels in an all out desperate initiative to take the Whale Navy out of action causing Japan to suspend its annual whaling hunt.
Animal protesters gather in Richmond to demonstrate against deer culling in London's Royal Parks.