In February 2018 the UK government commissioned Professor Sir Charles Godfray to conduct an independent review into its policy of culling badgers – a protected species of course – to control bovine tuberculosis or bTb and to achieve ‘Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free’ status in England by 2038. The review took place during spring and summer 2018, was reported to Ministers in October that year, and a government response was – at last – published on the 5th of March this year, 2020.
The review’s conclusion appears to be that badger culling – which has so far cost taxpayers an estimated £60million and resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 badgers – is NOT the solution to lowering TB in cattle and that what is required instead is a major focus on cattle-based control measures and vaccination against bTb of both badgers and cattle.
So is that good news for those of us that love wildlife and have always felt that badgers were being scapegoated for a disease of cattle and poor cattle biosecurity, or pretty much business as usual with culling continuing as the government trials vaccination in limited areas and continues its support of the National Farmers Union? Is this the seismic shift a headline in The Guardian suggests? Or was Alick Simmons, former Defra Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, nearer the mark when he tweeted on the 5th that the area where badgers are killed is set to increase by another 3500 sq km and badgers will be killed for another 6 -10 years?
My name is Charlie Moores and as I’ve so often done when it comes to dissecting the badger cull, I turned to Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust and author of Badgered To Death, which looked extensively at the people and the politics behind the badger cull.
“…It’s an exit strategy – a viable one – one that holds water – and, yes, it’s light at the end of the tunnel – but we’ve got a long fight ahead of us…”
Dominic Dyer | Badger Cull Update
For more information and podcasts on the badger cull here on the War on Wildlife project please search ‘badger cull’.
- Follow Dominic Dyer on twitter at domdyer70
- Alick Simmons is on twitter at alicksimmons
- You may also like the The Badger Crowd twitter feed at BadgerCrowd