As the Badger Trust today begins its hearing in the Court of Appeal in a bid to stop pilot badger culls, a leading wildlife scientist claimed the cull policy was unacceptable.
Dr Chris Cheeseman, former head of wildlife diseases at the Central Science Laboratory, which carried out extensive research on badgers, is supporting the Humane Society International UK’s campaign to stop the culls in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset.
In a statement, Dr Cheeseman said: “This Government claims that their policy is science led, but I’m afraid it’s not. It could lead to the deaths of up to 130,000 badgers over a few years to achieve an overall, at best, 16 per cent reduction in cattle TB. Now there are those of us in the scientific community who think the cull will make it worse, and I suggest that’s unacceptable.”
His statement is included in a video released by Humane Society International UK entitled Kill the Cull, Not the Badgers. But a spokesman for Defra insisted the cull was science-led and quoted a document agreed by a group of scientists brought together by former Government Chief Scientist Bob Watson to show the level of scientific consensus.
“The science is clear, and experts agree that provided culling is done in the right way it can lead to a reduction in TB in cattle,” the spokesman said. He added that no country in the world where wildlife carries TB has eradicated the disease in cattle without tackling it in wildlife as well.