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TV stars back opposition to badger cull with e-petition

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 19, 2012

Badgers
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Celebrities and animal lovers have rounded on the Government over sanctioning a cull of badgers to tackle the spread of tuberculosis in cattle that is rife in the far South West.

Government agency Natural England announced on Monday it has awarded a licence to kill badgers in Gloucestershire that could last for four years. A second cull is likely to be given the go-ahead in Somerset within days, with both poised to start in a matter of weeks.

But the decision has been condemned by wildlife expert Bill Oddie, Queen guitarist Brian May, and broadcaster Chris Packham. A Government e-petition, which could trigger a debate in the House of Commons, has attracted almost 44,000 signatures as it receives endorsements from high-profile names on social media website Twitter.

If the night-time culls prove to be safe, efficient and humane after a six-week “pilot” period they will be extended to four years, and pave the way for up to ten more licences a year to be issued in other livestock tuberculosis (TB) hotspots from June 2013.

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Mr Oddie, who used to front BBC Springwatch, said the cull flew in the face of scientific evidence, and criticised Environment Secretary Owen Paterson for pushing ahead with the cull, which will be carried out by trained marksmen.

As a child, Mr Paterson kept two pet badgers, Bessie and Baz. He first mentioned them in Parliament when in Opposition seven years ago, saying: “It grieves me to think that the descendants of my badgers could be suffering a hideous death due to Government neglect on TB.”

Mr Oddie said: “The decision is not only appalling for the badgers, it is also arrogant, ignorant and insulting to the researchers and scientists that are advising against it. But then judging from his scepticism on climate change, Owen Patterson clearly has little respect for science. Or compassion.

“Apparently when he was a little boy he had two badgers as pets. Perhaps they got more attention than he did? Maybe the cull is some kind of vendetta. Beware budgies, white mice, hamsters, dogs and pussy cats. You’re next.”

Mr May re-iterated his long-standing opposition and Mr Packham said: “I feel sick that the science has been forsaken and that badgers will be sacrificed for our stupidity and selfishness.”

Animal welfare groups are also against culling. RSPB conservation director Martin Harper said: “The dairy industry has endured terrible times while trying to cope with this devastating disease.

“However, we have never been convinced that the best way to help farmers is to force them to foot the bill for a contentious cull that is only expected to reduce outbreaks by about 16%. This is a lot of effort for a small gain.”

The Department for Environment points to the ten-year Randomised Badger Culling Trial as its scientific justification for the 16% reduction, which ministers say is significant.

Thousands of badgers, which carry the disease, will be killed. Some 26,000 cattle were slaughtered last year to control TB, which could eventually cost the taxpayer £1 billion, the Government says. Vaccination is unproven and costly, it says.

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  • EJANDODIN  |  September 22 2012, 10:55AM

    Re farmers complaining about being intimidated already. What do these farmers expect if they more or less admit they are going to slaughter badgers on their land. Do you think everyone is going to sit down and say 'oh yes that is nice'. I am in complete sympathy with the protesters as there is no justification for this cull, there is no support for it in the general community, it is based on flawed science and most of all it wont work and is costing the taxpayer money with extra policing etc. They dont even know how many badgers there are in the cull zone so how can they cull 70%. 81,000+ have signed a government e petition to stop the cull and in a recent poll 90% of those asked were against the cull. This is bad PR for the farmers involved and their products will be boycotted when they are named and shamed. Also it is a vote loser for the coalition despite the farmers trying to discredit the opposition. They should be vaccinating badgers. If Killerton estate can do it , it must be possible for even their single brain cell to take on board: http://tinyurl.com/bmag5t8

  • 2ladybugs  |  September 22 2012, 6:03AM

    @EJANDODIN This is the most outrageous load of s**t stirring that I have come across. The shooting starts Sept/Oct at the latest and lasts for six weeks only. There would be little point in it carrying on any longer than that, as the badgers would be underground, as like us they don't like the cold weather and tend to hibernate. What is it with you lot, is it because you can't win this debate any other way other than spreading complete and utter nonsense and untruths. If you want to win debates get your facts right, otherwise you tend to make yourselves look complete and utter numpties.

  • EJANDODIN  |  September 21 2012, 8:49PM

    A sick plan by a sick government. The money could be spent effectively by vaccinating badgers instead of this cruel and barbaric cull. This is the reality of the cull: " Following enquiries by Vale Wildlife Hospital and GABS, it has become apparent that the planned cull in Tewkesbury and the Forest of Dean is likely to result in pregnant badgers being shot and left to die in their setts as shooting is allowed to take place until the end of January. There is also the possibility that cubs may already have been born and that nursing mothers could be shot, resulting in the cubs starving to death." If that is not the work of sick and twisted minds I do not know what is. Bad PR for farmers and bad news for the coalition at the polls.

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  • BrockStripes  |  September 21 2012, 8:30PM

    "Charlespk The European Commission co-funds TB eradication policies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the tune of €32 million a year. Earlier this year, it sent a delegation over to the UK to ensure the money is being spent effectively and should continue to be paid." So this would be why the Government is forcing through a ridiculous plan which won't work then. Killing badgers = pretence of action against bTB = continuation of funding from Brussels. How sick.

  • BrockStripes  |  September 21 2012, 8:24PM

    The surest way to remove the threat of bTB passing to humans is to stop all dairy/cattle farming where there is a threat of bTB. There are plenty of areas across England with farmers who are saying they just don't have bTB. I love the idea of pictures of 'scrofula' going up around supermarkets. That will be the fastest way to turn people away from dairy and cattle products entirely. Better for their health, better for the environment, better for cattle AND badgers.

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  • Charlespk  |  September 21 2012, 8:24PM

    I think I've 'needled' all of you badgerists that's for sure. What's it they say. . The cream always rises to the top. That's not difficult.

  • Charlespk  |  September 21 2012, 8:18PM

    Sign away! . It wont make the slightest bit of difference. Governments can't take State decisions about animal and human health by plebiscite. THE European Commission has warned UK Governments they need to show greater long-term commitment to tackling the problem of bovine TB (bTB) in wildlife. In a report seen by Farmers Guardian this week, the Commission insists there is 'no scientific evidence' badger vaccination will work, compared with the 'considerable evidence' badger removal will improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle. Brussels officials warn the Welsh TB eradication plan has been 'disrupted' and will 'lose impetus' as a result of the decision taken this year to opt for vaccination over culling. It called on UK politicians to 'commit to a long-term strategy' that transcends party politics and fear of what voters might think. The European Commission co-funds TB eradication policies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the tune of €32 million a year. Earlier this year, it sent a delegation over to the UK to ensure the money is being spent effectively and should continue to be paid.

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  • EJANDODIN  |  September 21 2012, 8:10PM

    Honestly Charles . I think the needle must have stuck or perhaps your brain is in some sort of loop. Are you SURE you are not a Dalek. You can't cull 70% of an unknown quantity 40% of farms in the hot spot areas have not had bovine tb in the last 10 years says DEFRA Petition approaching 80,000. 90% when asked were against the cull.

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  • Charlespk  |  September 21 2012, 5:59PM

    Sign away! . It wont make the slightest bit of difference. Governments can't take State decisions about animal and human health by plebiscite. THE European Commission has warned UK Governments they need to show greater long-term commitment to tackling the problem of bovine TB (bTB) in wildlife. In a report seen by Farmers Guardian this week, the Commission insists there is 'no scientific evidence' badger vaccination will work, compared with the 'considerable evidence' badger removal will improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle. Brussels officials warn the Welsh TB eradication plan has been 'disrupted' and will 'lose impetus' as a result of the decision taken this year to opt for vaccination over culling. It called on UK politicians to 'commit to a long-term strategy' that transcends party politics and fear of what voters might think. The European Commission co-funds TB eradication policies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the tune of €32 million a year. Earlier this year, it sent a delegation over to the UK to ensure the money is being spent effectively and should continue to be paid.

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  • judiingham  |  September 21 2012, 5:20PM

    Can everyone who disagrees with the badger cull please sign the petition at teambadger.org and share, share, share. Thank you.

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