Badger update August 2011

We reported in the last newsletter that The Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, John Griffiths, had made a statement that the Welsh Government had postponed plans to cull badgers, pending an independent, scientific review of the evidence. The independent panel would be appointed by the Welsh Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor John Harries.

The names of those individuals making up the panel have now been announced. They are (biographies taken from the BBC website):

  • Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, chair of Public Health Wales and Director of the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University
  • Professor Malcolm Bennett, co-director of the UK National Centre for Zoonosis Research and Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Liverpool
  • Professor Bridget Emmett, deputy director of the biogeochemistry programme, section head and head of site at the centre for ecology and hydrology (CEH) in Bangor
  • Professor Charles Godfray, a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford and Hope Professor at the department of zoology of the University of Oxford
  • Professor Dirk Pfeiffer, Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology, and head of the veterinary epidemiology and public health group in the department of veterinary clinical Sciences at the Royal Veterinary College (University of London)
Badger by Jon Hawkins

Badger by Jon Hawkins

The chair of the panel will be Professor Chris Gaskell, who is principal of the Royal Agricultural College. The report is expected this autumn, and we hope very much that it will find in favour of alternatives to culling.

During the last month, the focus on badger culling has shifted more to activity in England, where Caroline Spelman has indicated that she was ‘strongly minded’ to allow badger culling to take place and announced two ‘pilot’ culls to assess free shooting- an untested means of badger control in terms of efficacy for TB control. Notably, free shooting was included in the latest Welsh Order as a potential means of badger culling.

The renewed focus on badger control in England has prompted renewed interest in the topic in the media, and has triggered the involvement of the powerful campaign group 38 Degrees. They have recently launched a petition to ‘stop the plan to shoot badgers’, which at time of writing has already received just under 22,000 signatures. Add yours at: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/badgers-petition

Also worth a look is some of the very positive publicity resulting from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s efforts to vaccinate the badgers on their reserves- read more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/06/badger-cull-vs-vaccination-splits-countryside

We will of course continue to keep you up to date with badger news and activities in future newsletters.