BADGER CULL ‘COUNTERPRODUCTIVE AND CRUEL’ - MEP
CULLING BADGERS MAY INCREASE SPREAD OF BOVINE TB, WARNS LUCAS
CULLING badgers to prevent the spread of TB in cattle is cruel and could be
counter-productive, Green Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has warned.
The South-East England MEP told a government consultation that more research
into the causes of TB was needed – and that killing badgers could actually
be increasing the spread of the disease.
Dr Lucas, a former vice-president of the EU’s committee of inquiry into the
UK’s foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001, said: “Culling badgers to
control the spread of TB in cattle appears to be completely
“A culling-based TB strategy in South-West England has led to an increase in
cases amongst cattle, and to cases developing in areas that had previously
been free of the disease.”
“We need a rational, evidence-based policy for halting the spread of bovine
TB, 80 per cent of which is caused by cattle-to-cattle infection and has
nothing whatsoever to do with badgers. In the remaining cases, culling
badgers could be increasing the range of neighbouring populations, causing
the disease to spread more widely.”
Dr Lucas said the consultation, which is being carried out by DEFRA and runs
until the end of this week (March 10th), should be put on hold until an
independent review team set up by the Government to investigate the impact
of badger culling on bovine TB reports its findings early next year. Its
interim report, published last autumn, found that ‘reactive culling… cannot
contribute constructively to the control of bovine TB in Britain’.
She said: “I find it surprising that DEFRA has chosen to carry out this
consultation before the full results of the trial are published, giving the
impression that it could be deliberately sidelining evidence that comes down
against a culling policy.
“Badger culling is a distraction – and the uncomfortable truth for the
Government and the supermarkets is that bovine TB is more likely to be
spread between cattle kept in crowded quarters, and the answer is more
likely to lie in improving animal welfare standards.”
Methods commonly used to cull badgers – shooting, gassing and snaring – are
cruel and could contravene the 1992 Badger Act designed to protect badgers
from acts of cruelty, and the Bern Convention, which commits the UK to
conserving wild flora, fauna and their native habitats’, added Dr Lucas.