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Thursday, July 28, 2011


38 Degrees Logo

Dear Jonathan,

The results are in. 87% of us think that we should work together to stop the government's plan to shoot thousands of badgers next spring. [1]

The government is consulting on their plans now until Sept 20th. [2] That means we could have just six weeks to push them to cancel the badger cull plan.

When thousands of us signed the 38 Degrees petition against England's forests being sold off, that helped persuade the government to cancel the plans. Now we can do the same to protect badgers with a huge petition against these plans to shoot them.

Can you sign the "stop this badger cull" petition now?

There's been a big debate among 38 Degrees members about badger culls. Some of us believe killing badgers would be wrong under any circumstances. Some of us believe that if the science really proved that shooting badgers could make a real dent in the cow TB problem, it would be a tragic necessity. [3]

But 87% of us agree on this: the government's current plans to shoot England's badgers simply don't stack up. The government's own scientific advisers warn that it won't solve the problem of TB in cattle, and could even make it worse. [4]

Please add your name to support a scientific approach to tackling cow TB, and against the government's plan to shoot badgers:

Cow TB is a terrible problem. It leads to the slaughter of thousands of cows, costs millions of pounds, and places terrible strain on farmers and their families. [5]

But the government has scrapped trials of badger vaccines. [6] They fail to compensate farmers for the full impact of the disease. [7] Instead they're proposing to launch a badger-shooting plan their own experts say won't solve the problem.

Together, we can persuade the government to invest in a long-term, science-led approach to cow TB. We can stand up for real solutions not unscientific political gestures. And we can make sure that thousands of wild creatures aren't needlessly slaughtered in the process.

The government is consulting on the plans right now. If we don't stop them, badger shoots could begin in a matter of months. Can you take 30 seconds now to add your name to the petition?

Thanks for getting involved,

Marie, Hannah, David, Cian, Johnny, Becky and the 38 Degrees team

[1] 38 Degrees blog post http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/07/28/badger-vote-results/
[2] DEFRA "key stakeholders" consultation http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2011/07/19/bovine-tb/
[3] 38 Degrees blog post and discussion - http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/07/19/badgers-trial-shoots-to-go-ahead/ and Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/peoplepowerchange
[4] Government scientists say that if a cull isn't carried out "in a co-ordinated, sustained and simultaneous manner according to the minimum criteria, then this could result in a smaller benefit or even a detrimental effect." See article - http://www.meatinfo.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/12950/Ministers_to_back_badger_cull.html and notes from DEFRA meeting April 4th 2011 - http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/bovinetb-scientificexperts-110404.pdf
Oxford academic Lord John Krebs led a government inquiry into the link between badgers and cow tuberculosis. He says of the government's plans: "I can't understand how anybody who's looked at the science would say this is a good idea." See more here: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/07/19/badgers-trial-shoots-to-go-ahead/#update
Dr Chris Cheeseman, former head of the Wildlife Disease Unit, says of the government's plan to cull badgers over six-week periods to try to reduce the chances of making the problem worse - "Where they get the six-week period from is a mystery to me - somebody's just picked a figure out of the air." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14204236
Professor John Bourne and six other members of the expert group set up by the government Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB, 1998-2007 wrote in a letter to The Times on 13 July 2011: "Having overseen a decade-long programme of independently-audited and peer-reviewed research on this topic, we caution that such culls may not deliver the anticipated reductions in cattle TB." http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/letters/article3091989.ece
[5] DEFRA information page on cow TB and its effects on farmers http://www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/a-z/bovine-tb/
[6] Farmers Guardian article "Badger vaccination project scrapped in all but one area" http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/latest-news/badger-vaccination-project-scrapped-in-all-but-one-area/32742.article
[7] Farmers Weekly article "TB compensation falls short of disease cost" http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2010/10/06/123864/TB-compensation-falls-short-of-disease-cost.htm

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1 comment:

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

To be brief, the facts of the matter as these:

1) Bovine TB used to be a huge problem in Britain. Stringent and repeated cattle testing, culling of infected herds and culling badgers in known-infected regions got rid of bTB last time, therefore there is already a known-working and cheap solution to the problem.

2) If you remove culling the wildlife reservoir from the control regime, then it stops working. We know this because this is exactly what has been done, and bovine TB is on the increase. A useful experiment is therefore to re-implement the previously known-effective control strategy, and see if it still works.

3) Money talks, and since DEFRA is currently paying out £80 million per annum (and rising year on year) in compensation alone, the question is therefore being asked if this sum is worth it.

4) By failing to control bovine TB, we are condemning thousands of badgers to a slow, painful and miserable death as TB progressively destroys their lungs, kidneys and eventually causes systemic failure. A failure to stop the disease is therefore not "being kind to badgers", but is rather cruelly allowing thousands of animals to die of a painful and preventable disease.

It is this latter aspect which especially annoys me. So-called Animal Rights activists are by their actions subjecting badgers to far more inhumane suffering and a much more miserable death than would otherwise be the case were they to permit farmers and DEFRA to get rid of bovine TB from Britain permanently.

Do you really want to permit thousands of badgers to die of TB?