‘Vital cull or heartless slaughter? The great badger debate’

Posted on October 9, 2012

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Today (9th October), an item was posted on independent.co.uk titled ‘Vital cull or heartless slaughter? The great badger debate’, in the form of an exchange of letters.

‘… It’s the great countryside controversy of the day: should badgers be culled to protect cows from TB? NFU president Peter Kendall and TV naturalist Chris Packham argue for and against – and yes, the fur flies …

Dear Peter,

Let me be clear from the outset, if the scientific evidence pointed to culling badgers being an effective, humane, sustainable and economically viable solution to the increasing occurrence of TB in cattle then I’d be agreeing to it. But it is not. Indeed, through a thorough knowledge of their behaviour, I don’t believe badgers are to blame.

Badgers can carry TB but so can many other animals and by far the most efficient vector are the cows. Through poor biosecurity, bad management and sub-standard animal care they are the benign culprits in the transmission of this insidious bacteria. Cattle identified through a slow and inaccurate test should be quarantined straight away but most farms don’t even have quarantine areas. Proper husbandry and hygiene on farms would reduce the occurrence and spread of TB.

And when it comes to that spread, it’s very difficult to blame a remarkably sedentary animal. Badgers are strictly territorial. The exceptions are young males who wander to find families (clans). But how far do they go? Would they travel from Northumberland to Essex in four days and all over the UK within a few weeks? No, 50 per cent never leave their territory and only 10 per cent leave permanently, only ever straying perhaps two to five miles, in a lifetime.

Chris …’

Read the item in full and add your comment online at www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/vital-cull-or-heartless-slaughter-the-great-badger-debate-8202970.html

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