There is something profoundly distasteful about a government that manipulates science and imposes secrecy to drive its own agenda. The 5th March “Next Steps” policy guidance on badger culling in England uses selective science in a shocking way to falsely claim that badger culling has been shown to be working. It rows back fully, and in ambiguous language, on the sworn (in the High Court) commitment from government earlier this year to ‘tilt’ bTB control away from lethal intervention.
Defra has recently undertaken a consultation on the rules for killing badgers near badger vaccination sites. It is offering nothing to those who spend their lives trying to help protect badgers from cattle TB by vaccinating them. This is hurried, one-sided, ill-conceived, and attempts to force consultees to choose from a limited range of unacceptable options. Badger vaccination often takes place in or near nature reserves and private land where the government pays gunmen to tempt them out to be shot. This is a brutal betrayal of the voluntary sector and wildlife charities, an affront to those who work hard in the countryside for badgers, and it constrains and threatens the current and future prospects of the promised application of non-lethal intervention. Already during the English culls, one vaccination area in Somerset has been all but culled completely out, despite legal steps to force Natural England to limit the killings.
How long can the pointless, counter-productive killing go on? According to the new policy, this may continue forever, as appears to be the case in the Republic of Ireland, where culling has continued for decades with no demonstrable benefit and talk of use of vaccination seems hollow too. Defra’s utter failure to stop the importation and exportation of bovine TB in trade and the spread of the disease eastwards shames their claims of success. It is utter failure. The capacity of the 50% accurate testing system to do anything but keep infected areas stable or hovering at unacceptable levels is obvious. Measures that should have been in place years ago are only now being gradually applied. How long before the government stops doing exactly what vested interests demand and stop the flagrant abuse of public funds on scapegoating badgers? It has to stop.
A new legal challenge attacks not only the decision to reject specific Godfray report recommendations, but also Defra’s reliance on inadequate and out-of-date modelled data. The fresh legal claim against aspects of the 5th March 2020 policy guidance on badger culling has recently been lodged by Tom Langton, with support from The Badger Trust, against the Secretary of State for EFRA and with Natural England (NE) as an Interested Party. This follows the refusal of the request that Defra should follow key Godfray Review report recommendations. It asked for NE not to issue new Supplementary Badger Culling (SBC) licences in 2020 and to stop badger culling after four-year culls for a two-year period to enable more badger vaccination. A fresh appeal to support this case is now live. Other challenges are under active consideration and your help is essential to the continuation of this work. Please support with whatever you can to help meet the necessary costs of the expert legal team. All donations are used solely for the essential legal work.
The Badger Crowd was formed in 2017. It is a voice for the public to challenge incorrect process and procedures surrounding the badger cull. The badger cull is one of the worst wildlife abuses of modern times and we will continue to challenge the wrong decisions surrounding it. We will continue to seek justice in the best interests of badgers, wildlife, farming and the tax-paying public. Thank you again for all your hard work and donations in support. Together we are The Badger Crowd. Standing up for Badgers.