Armed with the wrath of Brian May, protestors all over the country are furious over the recent decision to cull badgers in the West of England.
Armed with the wrath of Brian May, protestors all over the country are furious over the recent decision to cull badgers in the West of England. About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed by “controlled shootings” in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the next few weeks, a resolution that not everyone is happy with.
Famers in the West are strongly in favour of the cull due to badgers being carriers of the disease Bovine Tuberculosis. The National Farmers’ Union sees the cull as vital and an important step for the whole farming community. NFU President Peter Kendall said that he had “seen farming families moved to tears round kitchen tables” as a result of the TB contagion.
Failing to see how the decision is ethical
Diminishing TB from the farms is the strongest argument for the oncoming brutality, but I fail to see how this makes the decision ethical.
Many protestors, including the Dorset Wildlife Trust, see the shooting method as inhumane and believe that there are alternative methods which should be considered. Their website states that there is scientific evidence to suggest that controlled shootings are unlikely to make a dramatic improvement in infected cattle rates, and could even amplify the problem.
More unnecessary casualties as a result
Shootings could scare and scatter badgers away from their normal areas, potentially bringing infected and uninfected badgers together, spreading the disease further. How can it be guaranteed that only infected badgers are shot? Surely there will be unnecessary casualties as a result.
It is not even certain what proportion of bovine TB in cattle is caused by badgers. Estimates range from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. So, only up to half cases are as a result of badger carriers anyway. Cattle to cattle transmissions are responsible for at least the other 50 per cent, so why not start there.
Instead of crying around the dinner table, perhaps farmers should be doing more to prevent the spread amongst their own cattle herds.
More research and funding to stop disease
Rather than heading straight towards bloodshed, campaigners are asking for more research and funding to go into cattle and badger vaccinations to stop the spread of the disease. Not only is this means of control much more effective, it means that there is no unnecessary loss of life as a result. It provides a long-term solution, instead of a short-term bloodbath.
There is no evidence to suggest that the amount of infected badgers won’t just increase back to their previous numbers within a short space of time anyway, leading back to square one.
Playing God has never gotten us anywhere in the past. We as a nation have managed to hunt otters, polecats and numerous other creatures into near extinction in Britain. Our means of “pest-control” in unscientific and unnatural, and we almost never get it right. Why should now be any exception? What gives us the right to say 5,000 badgers should die, without any definite advantages?
When foxhunting was judged as cruel, and hence made illegal, it was because a lot of the time foxes would be left to the hands of the hounds to die a long and painful death. The same could occur with the badger cull, with no guarantee that the guns used will kill them on the spot. Many will be left, near death, suffering. It is the idea of hundreds of distressed creatures in our country, hurt by our own hands, that makes the idea of the cull so difficult to swallow.
Has our government merely been ‘badgered’ so furiously into submission by angry farmers that they have simply yielded to their demands? I wouldn’t like to say. I will however say that I have exactly zero confidence in our government when it comes to scientific competency.
Leave our badgers alone!
Being as strongly opposed to the cull as I am, it is easy for this article to turn into a biased, one-sided rant. I am not a farmer—neither do I know any so my argument can only go so far.
However, looking at the consequences of the hunting of animals that has happened previously, I see no long term benefit to the cull, and it makes me sad to think so many people are happy to see thousands of innocent creatures suffer.
As stated by the Dorset Wildlife Trust, additional funding should be given to the badger vaccines and further research into cattle to cattle transmissions and possible vaccines. This way we are looking at a healthier future for all wildlife, not just the badgers. If we upset the delicate balance of our already suffering ecosystem, who knows what could happen in the long run.
Leave our badgers alone!