The last few weeks have seen an interesting turn of events with regards to the badger cull; after a week which saw over 150,000 people sign an e-petition demanding a debate on the cull in Parliament on Sunday an open letter was sent to the Observer, composed by leading animal disease scientists, launching an attack on the basic premise of the UK government’s policy of culling badgers to reduce bovine TB.
“As scientists with expertise in managing wildlife and wildlife diseases, we believe the complexities of TB transmission mean that licensed culling risks increasing cattle TB rather than reducing it.”
Further to this many of the scientists involved came out with their own personal quotes which excoriated the UK government for taking their work and perverting the meaning of their conclusions.
Lord Krebs "Their (NFU) President Peter Kendall is going to have a lot of angry farmers on his hands in three-four years' time saying we have spent a lot of money on the cull but we still have TB."
Professor John Bourne who led the ten year study into badger culling said "The real reason for the cull is that politicians are desperate and I think farmers have been hoodwinked for years" he went on to say "It is not badgers that spread the disease throughout the country; it is cattle"
Lord Robert May, former scientific advisor, said "it is very clear to me that the government's policy does not make sense"
Professor Rosie Woodroffe, of the Zoological Society of London, said "the document" used by government to back the badger cull "simply does not endorse the policy"
In a separate development, nine leading vets have written an open letter to Defra and Natural England. They warn that the shooting permitted by the cull licences "will inevitably result in the targeting of many pregnant sows and, if culling extends towards the end of the open season, could result in the shooting of lactating sows, leading to the starvation of dependent cubs".
As a consequence of the e-petition a debate in Parliament will be held in the week beginning 22/October/2012.