Double Trouble For Badgers!
The recent announcment that wonderful microblogging platform Posterous has been taken over by the feathered fellas at Twitter was enough to upset this furry fella who cares not to twit wise remarks and send people off to unknown websites via a multitude of shortened urls, the following report about badger culling is another concern about the state of the Big Society
Two zones have been chosen for trial badger culls this autumn in a “controlled shooting” test that could result in 3,000 badgers being killed at farmers’ expense.
Between 1,000 and 1,500 badgers will be shot
Licences are now available for farmers and landowners in parts of Somerset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire to carry out targeted badger culls on their land over a six-week period.
The Minister for Agriculture confirmed today that two areas had been chosen in an initiative to combat bovine tuberculosis.
Between 1,000 and 1,500 badgers will be shot in each pilot area to test the effectiveness of culls in stemming the spread of TB, which forced the slaughter of 25,000 cattle in 2010.
“Bovine TB is a chronic and devastating disease,” Mr Paice said. “It causes the slaughter of tens of thousands of cattle each year, and is taking a terrible toll on our farmers and rural communities.
“Nobody wants to cull badgers. But no country in the world where wildlife carries TB has eradicated the disease in cattle wihtout tackling it in wildlife too.”
Fighting the disease has cost the taxpayer £500 million over the past decade, and the Government estimates that it will have to spend £1 billion in the next ten years unless dramatic action is taken.
If the trial is successful, another 40 culling zones will be licensed in the next five years.
Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] cannot reveal the precise areas that will be licensed, as animal rights activists could press landowners to pull out of the cull.
The department has said, however, that one region will straddle West Somerset and Taunton Deane, while the other will cover the south of Herefordshire and parts of West Gloucestershire including Tewkesbury and the Forest of Dean.
Large tracts of these areas are naturally bounded by roads and rivers such as the Severn and the Wye, so the badger populations will be contained for observation.
The Badger Trust denounced the choice as biased. “It’s the science of the madhouse,” said Jack Reedy, a spokesman for the charity. “Quite frankly, it’s rigged in favour of the result they want to get.”
He also criticised the controlled shooting method as “inhumane because it’s inefficient”, saying: “The farming industry is going to have to pay a very high price because of its prejudice.”
Defra has eschewed the costly and much-criticised cage trapping method, in which badgers are caught and slaughtered at close range with ammunition that breaks up, in favour of controlled shooting, which it says is cheaper and more humane.
Under this scheme, marksmen stalk the badgers as though they were deer, and shoot them outside their setts.
Farmers will be expected to cover the costs of the slaughter from their own pockets, as well as paying for body bags, transport and incineration for the carcasses.
They will also have to use professionals who can show “a high level of competence in marksmanship” — experience of deer stalking is preferred — and pass a Government-approved test before they are allowed to shoot the animals.