Saturday 1 June will rank as a black day in the history of animal welfare.
On that day, unless public opinion or good sense prevents it, the government will begin its assault on the badger population in two selected areas of England before rolling out an intensive slaughter of badgers throughout the rest of the country.
The reason for this inhumane plan? - the grossly simplistic and mistaken belief that a mass cull is the solution to the problem of bovine TB. It is mistaken because, by targeting badgers as the cause of the disease, the government, against all the most reliable scientific evidence, is poised to permit the shooting of 70% of badgers in the cull areas over four years.
At best this will result in reducing bovine TB by a mere 16%. However it is far more likely to lead to the spread of the disease as infected badgers flee to other areas to escape the guns.
It is simplistic because, by demonising the badger, it ignores the unwelcome fact that intensive rearing of cattle gives free rein to the spread of the disease, exacerbated by the lack of adequate movement controls and effective biosecurity routines.
As evidence of its disdain for scientific research the government blithely dismisses the evidence amassed over a ten year period by the previous government which concluded that ‘badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.’ It disregards the humane and effective approach of badger vaccination by the Welsh Assembly.
Successive polls show a large majority opposed to the planned cull and over 215,000 people have signed the e-petition organised by Queen guitarist Brian May.
I urge your readers to add their names to the petition to be found at www.teambadger.org
In the absence of good sense let public opinion halt the cull.