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Badger cull go-ahead 'as soon as possible'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 12, 2012

Brian May joins the rally of anti-cull charities in Bristol yesterday. He said: ‘It was a good thing to try and I am not  very much daunted by the fact it failed’

Brian May joins the rally of anti-cull charities in Bristol yesterday. He said: ‘It was a good thing to try and I am not very much daunted by the fact it failed’

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A controversial cull of badgers looks set to begin this year after the Court of Appeal threw out a legal challenge by an animal welfare group.

The Badger Trust had attacked Mr Justice Ouseley's decision in July to uphold government proposals for two pilot culls to tackle tuberculosis in cattle: one in West Somerset and the other in Gloucestershire.

But, Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice Rimer and Lord Justice Sullivan yesterday unanimously rejected the appeal.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the two six-week "pilot" culls would commence "as soon as is practical".

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The Government has long eyed autumn 2012 as a start date, and always factored in a lengthy court challenge.

The spokesman said: "We are pleased with the judgement. We will continue to work with the farming industry so badger control in two pilot areas can start as soon as is practical.

"No-one wants to cull badgers but last year bovine TB led to the slaughter of over 26,000 cattle and to help eradicate the disease it needs to be tackled in badgers."

If the pilots are successful, more culls are likely to be rolled out throughout the South West peninsula where bovine TB is rife.

The Badger Trust argued that killing badgers will make no meaningful contribution to tackling the disease, which has been described as the most pressing animal health problem in the UK. It claims that the scheme could lead to 40,000 animals being "pointlessly killed" over the next four years.

But the judges were only concerned with statutory construction of the previous decision.

Afterwards, Patricia Hayden, vice-chairman of the Badger Trust said: "We are very disappointed. We don't know what the next step is, but we will not give up."

The ruling by the Court of Appeal followed a frantic day of lobbying by those opposed to the killing of badgers, fronted by Sir David Attenborough and Simon King, President of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.

But the National Farmers Union (NFU), which alongside the British Veterinary Association and British Cattle Veterinary Association supported the ruling in July, welcomed yesterday's decision.

NFU head of food and farming Phil Hudson said: "Given the public interest in this issue, we always knew that there would be a legal challenge to the policy.

"We are pleased that the judges upheld the High Court's decision.

"This news is critically important to cattle farmers and their families who are blighted with this disease on their farms.

"The NFU remains fully committed to supporting the Government's science-led TB eradication policy to tackle what is a terrible and damaging disease.

"Our end goal is for a healthy countryside and that needs healthy badgers and healthy cattle. This policy, and these pilots, will help to deliver that."

If the pilots prove the culling to be safe, effective and humane – the technique involves licensed marksmen shooting free-running badgers – then up to 40 cull licences could be issued over a four-year period.

The window for a pilot cull will be open until the start of the six-month closed season – the badger breeding season which bans a cull – in February 2013.

Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, yesterday said the result was "disappointing", but called on the public to join its "people power" campaign. Speaking from a rally of a coalition of anti-cull charities in Bristol yesterday, where the star attraction was Queen musician Brian May, he said the cull made "no sense", and said the evidence showed that 70% of badgers would be killed to stop the infection of one cow in 100.

"This is a dirty back room deal which has been done because it's cheaper than a vaccination," he told the Western Morning News. "We will not forgive or forget those politicians who support it."

Guitarist Mr May said the fight against culling badgers would continue despite the defeat in the courts.

The Queen star said: "What you've heard is that the judicial review failed. It isn't totally unexpected.

"What you've got to remember is that judges do not review the scientific evidence, they do not review the ethical considerations. All they do is look at the technicalities.

"The issue was, did the Government break any procedural rules? It was a good thing to try and I am not very much daunted by the fact it failed."

In 1971, the first case of bovine TB in a badger was detected on a farm in Gloucestershire. Farmers have since become convinced that the spiralling badger population is to blame for the spread of the disease.

The 26,000 infected cattle slaughtered each year will cost the taxpayer up to £1 billion in compensation by the end of the decade, ministers claim.

Scientists insist culling has to be carried out over a large area and for a long enough period. If so, it could lead to a 16% fall in TB in cattle over nine years.

The Government is to invest £20 million to develop cattle and oral badger vaccines, but are wary of their effectiveness. An injectable badger vaccine is now available but it is costly to trap and inject badgers.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  September 13 2012, 10:46PM

    .....er i'm guessing badger jokes are out yes?

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  • Incredulous2  |  September 13 2012, 10:21PM

    So, based on dodgethebulle's comment below, Badgers are a source of TB in Cattle - surely this is what many badgerists have been denying all this time. It would be interesting to see how 'biosecurity' measures could be introduced to keep Cattle and Badgers apart - or is the idea that Cattle are locked up 24/7 indoors to keep them away from those nasty, infected Badgers who then have free range in the outdoors. Of course, another way of preventing Badger to Cattle transmission of the TB would be to cull the badgers..............

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  • nicold  |  September 13 2012, 7:03PM

    I wonder how many of the ex fox hunters will sign up for this badger cull lust?

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  • dodgethebulle  |  September 13 2012, 1:15PM

    Lord Krebs said the trial evidence should be interpreted as an argument against culling. "You cull intensively for at least four years, you will have a net benefit of reducing TB in cattle of 12% to 16%. So you leave 85% of the problem still there, having gone to a huge amount of trouble to kill a huge number of badgers," he said. "It doesn't seem to be an effective way of controlling the disease." He said a better option would be to try to develop a vaccine in the long term, and in the short term to use better "biosecurity" measures to prevent cattle from coming into contact with badgers and other sources of the disease, and to prevent them passing it to each other. http://tinyurl.com/69sqykf http://tinyurl.com/9lmonj3

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  • dodgethebulle  |  September 13 2012, 1:01PM

    Badger culling is "ineffective", the expert behind the UK's biggest review of the links between badgers and tuberculosis in cattle, said on Monday. Professor Lord John Krebs was the government adviser responsible for the scientific review in the 1990s which found that badgers were a "reservoir" of bovine TB and could transmit the disease to cattle. He called for trial culls, which were then carried out. But he said on Monday the results of the trials showed that culling was "not an effective policy" and would be a mistake." http://tinyurl.com/69sqykf We need 100,000 people to sign now. Please share, tell your friends and sign. We need your help. There are 65,000 people who reach 1.5m friends so please share and sign NOW http://tinyurl.com/8odb3eg https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257/signature/new

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  • dodgethebulle  |  September 13 2012, 12:42PM

    Badger culling is "ineffective", the expert behind the UK's biggest review of the links between badgers and tuberculosis in cattle, said on Monday. Professor Lord John Krebs was the government adviser responsible for the scientific review in the 1990s which found that badgers were a "reservoir" of bovine TB and could transmit the disease to cattle. He called for trial culls, which were then carried out. But he said on Monday the results of the trials showed that culling was "not an effective policy" and would be a mistake." http://tinyurl.com/69sqykf We need 100,000 people to sign now. Please share, tell your friends and sign. We need your help. There are 65,000 people who reach 1.5m friends so please share and sign NOW http://tinyurl.com/8odb3eg https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257/signature/new

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  September 13 2012, 2:05AM

    without badgers my hobby, badger*******, will suffer!

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  • dodgethebulle  |  September 13 2012, 1:48AM

    We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in Gloucestershire, we shall fight in Somerset, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our badgers, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight amongst the beeches, we shall fight on the killing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!

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  • dodgethebulle  |  September 13 2012, 1:34AM

    Badger culling is "ineffective", the expert behind the UK's biggest review of the links between badgers and tuberculosis in cattle, said on Monday. Professor Lord John Krebs was the government adviser responsible for the scientific review in the 1990s which found that badgers were a "reservoir" of bovine TB and could transmit the disease to cattle. He called for trial culls, which were then carried out. But he said on Monday the results of the trials showed that culling was "not an effective policy" and would be a mistake." http://tinyurl.com/69sqykf We need 100,000 people to sign now. Please share, tell your friends and sign. We need your help. There are 65,000 people who reach 1.5m friends so please share and sign NOW http://tinyurl.com/8odb3eg https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257/signature/new

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  • Petermna  |  September 12 2012, 11:34PM

    I think it`s wrong ! Of all the scientific reports I have read, on bovine TB, none of them have specifically stated that badgers are to blame for the increase in the number of cows contracting the disease. Nor has anyone stated how the badgers have contracted bovine TB, have they caught it from cattle, rather than, as farmers seem to think, the other way about ? One report I read suggested the increase in bovine TB was the result of inbreeding in cattle and nothing to do with badgers. It appears that the Lord Justices have ruled over a "point of law", not any scientific evidence nor the appeals by many eminent members of the public, against the badger culls. A David and Goliath situation - David being the badgers and their supporters; Goliath, the farmers, the NFU and the wealthly land owners, many of whom are members of the Upper House, of this Government. Sadly, it seems Goliath is winning on this occasion !!

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