It’s difficult to enjoy badger puns when the issue at hand is so grim so we’re going to try and keep them to a minimum. After all, the uproar around the impending badger cull isn’t that black and white…. sorry, couldn’t resist.
Back to the point, it’s expected that around 5,000 badgers are to be killed over a period of six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire, beginning at the end of this week. Pretty horrific, many would argue, including the RSPCA, but farmers in the area say that those seemingly adorable woodland creatures are rapidly infecting their cattle with TB.
Bovine tuberculosis is spread to cattle from the faeces and urine of infected badgers – nice, we know. Cattle with TB spread from badgers can suffer from weakness in their limbs, dramatic weight loss and coughing, although when they’re diagnosed they’re usually destroyed pretty sharpish.
…the trained marksman option costs a mere £200…
Although there is an option to trap badgers in cages and vaccinate the healthy ones and put down the infected ones, the decision has been made that all badgers, sick or healthy, will be shot by a trained marksman. Grim. And why are we going for this option? Well, it’s simple really. The vaccination programme costs around £2,500 per hectare whilst the trained marksman option costs a mere £200. So, it’s all down to money. Wales and Northern Ireland have already introduced badger vaccination programmes whilst Scotland is considered TB free at the moment – so why can’t England follow Wales and Northern Ireland’s lead?
Understandably, animal charities are not happy with activists promising to be there to get in the way of the culling and make the marksman’s job very difficult. Many animal right’s activists also argue that the cull will force infected badgers into new, uninfected areas. Not exactly what the National Farmers’ Union set out to do. According to the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, ‘we have slaughtered over 305, 000 cattle in the last three years and we haven’t touched the wildlife. As a result of this, this disease is rapidly getting out of control.’ So, I suppose there only is one option then…. oh but wait, there isn’t, is there? One is humane and costly, whilst the other is grim, inhumane and cheap.
…we’ll hear more of ‘BadgerGate’ over the next couple of weeks…
Whilst farmers are happy that their cattle’s chances of contracting the disease will be decreased, it’s likely that we’ll hear more of ‘BadgerGate’ over the next couple of weeks as the cull begins. (Can we take the credit for ‘BadgerGate’ when that catches on? That would be great.) With activists most likely to come to the badger community’s rescue, will it be long before we see badger rescue centres popping up around the Somerset and Gloucestershire areas? We think not.