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The Cull is About Killing Badgers, Not Scientific Evidence

A Green Party campaign poster against the badger cull
A Green Party campaign poster against the badger cull • Photograph: The Green Party of England and Wales

The controversial badger cull trial has failed to meet its targets, so Tory logic says that the trial should be extended by three weeks in order to ensure those targets are met.

Widely condemned, the six week badger cull being piloted in West Somerset and Gloucestershire attempts to discern how effective, humane and safe a cull would be if later implemented across England. Working on a quota, those who have been granted a license to kill the badgers in Somerset are now to be given an additional six weeks to make sure they kill the right amount.

This is a ridiculous move by the Government. The trial cull has already been riddled with failure, uncertainty and inaccuracies and the questions the government want answered have most definitely been unanswered. Only a short amount of time after the cull was initiated, the Government revised their figures on the number of badgers in the area, reducing them. How can any experiment be undertaken if the full facts aren’t known?

Ludicrously, the government is attempting to blame the badgers for their failure with Owen Paterson saying that the badgers ‘moved the goalposts.’ How have they done this? By doing what nature tells them to do: responding to the weather, moving away from danger and breeding. These are hardly unexpected moves from the enemies, with scientists already having warned the Government of these complications if they were to press on with this disgusting policy.

Yet, the Government believes that this is reason enough to extend the cull, ignoring the fact that it is factors like these that help to determine the effectiveness of their trial. The Government are ignoring the difficulties that a cull faces and are only concerned with the number of badgers are killed. It is more than apparent that when this quota has been met, the Government will claim the cull a success, as they already have done despite not reaching the numbers, and will begin rolling out the programme across England on the basis of this ‘evidence.’

In addition, protest groups in the area have noted that not all badgers have been killed humanely (using the Government’s definition), with some being trapped in cages before being shot at point-blank. The cull requires that badgers are killed while freely roaming. This highlights that another of the requirements of this cull has already been failed, in a closely-monitored trial, suggesting that if it were to be reproduced nationally there would be many more instances of badgers killed by inhumane methods. Furthermore, one of the arguments against vaccinating badgers against bTB was how difficult they are to capture, but if the Government is catching badgers in cages to shoot them, then they can catch badgers in cages to vaccinate them.

The Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, rightly called out Owen Paterson and Defra for continuously ‘changing the rules’ and preferring ‘a scribbled on the back of an envelope, ignoring the facts approach.’

It can only be concluded that the badger cull is a dangerous move for the Government that goes against the will of the public and the expert recommendations of the scientific community. It does not fulfil their requirements and is simply a token gesture to farmers who are worried about losing a bit of capital. Hence, the Government should begin looking at alternative measures to tackle Bovine Tuberculosis, such as the vaccination, which have helped Scotland to achieve its Bovine TB-free status.

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