Soapbox – Badger Cull


I sympathise with the farmers

There are so many conservation issues I’d like to rant about, but I’ve decided to keep it close to home: the government’s disgraceful plan to allow farmers to kill thousands of badgers.

The cull could start as early as May 2011 and as many as 6,000 badgers would be shot in the first year. It’s yet another foolish, irresponsible and misguided effort to solve the long-standing dispute over badgers infecting cattle with bovine tuberculosis.

The lack of progress on this issue is both staggering and outrageous. After decades of errors, incompetence and cover-ups, we are nowhere nearer a practical solution. Farmers have lost nearly 200,000 cattle in the past decade and the problem now costs the UK more than £100 million a year. Meanwhile, the government has killed more than 30,000 badgers already and it’s made absolutely no long-term impact on the incidence of tuberculosis.

I sympathise with the farmers – they must be utterly sick of the whole thing. But the rest of us are just as exasperated.

A more holistic approach is essential. Better and more frequent tuberculosis testing in cattle – especially before they are moved from one farm to another – has to be top priority. Vaccines for both badgers and cattle may also provide a much happier long-term solution. In the meantime, we shouldn’t stand for the government’s pathetic attempt to appease farmers’ misplaced anger by using badgers as a scapegoat.

Mark Carwardine

Rohan Heritage

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