Many high profile names have joined the campaign against the badger cull including rock and roll legend Dr Brian May. May has repeatedly argued that there is no direct proof badgers are carriers for bovine TB and that culling them will have no effect. The cull, he claims, has no basis in scientific fact.
Brian May is wrong, and he had only look at Ireland to realise it. The Badger Cull works. Numerous studies conducted in Ireland since the introduction of the cull have shown that as the number of badgers culled increased, the frequency of bovine TB cases fell significantly.
Just because it works, doesn’t mean it should necessarily happen however. In Ireland badgers are snared before being shot. A cruel process, often injuring the creature needlessly, and one which is illegal in the UK. Badgers culled in the UK will be shot – A different process than that used in Ireland, which may yield a different effect.
As the number of cattle culled as a result of Bovine TB reaches nearly 200,000 DEFRA is working tirelessly on a vaccine to bring an end to a problem plaguing our domestic dairy industry. The Welsh Assembly has recently agreed on plans for mass vaccination of badgers in the Pembrokeshire hotspot.
The problem with the plans set out by the Welsh Assembly, is simply cost. Over 5 years, the plan estimates the vaccination cost of a single badger will be £3,310. For one badger. Nor does the vaccination even guarantee success, studies have shown that the vaccination is less likely to take hold in older badgers and has no effect on those already infected with the disease.
Bovine TB is a dire threat to rural Britain and the beef and dairy industries. Not acting could see the culling of cattle rapidly approach the scale of that seen years ago during the foot and mouth outbreak.
The badger cull is by no means an ideal solution, but it is a solution, at least for now. Until there is a vaccination that is both cost effective and efficient at controlling Bovine TB, farmers must have the right to protect their livelihood.
The decision to cull, or not to cull, must rest with individual farmers, and indeed their consciences.
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