The Government has made a U-Turn and decided to continue culling badgers instead of vaccinating them in an attempt to reduce bovine TB. This ineffective, costly and cruel U-Turn will result in over 70,000 killed badgers.
Government’s U-Turn to kill over 70,000 badgers
In March 2020, the government announced that it was finally going to listen to the science. After seven years of relentless culling, which killed over 100,000 badgers, the government decided it was going to replace culls with vaccinations, proven to be a far more effective way of reducing bovine tuberculosis (bTB) which reduces cattle’s ‘productivity’ in milk yields. Cattle found to have bTB are killed immediately.
The government already had plenty of evidence at its fingertips to see that vaccinations were more effective than culls back in 2013; the last seven years of culls never should have happened, but of course we welcomed the government’s eventual decision to simply listen to the science and vaccinate rather than kill badgers.
Unfortunately, the government has now revealed 11 new zones for killing badgers across the country, including areas which already have effective badger-vaccination programs in place. This U-turn means that thousands of badgers, who have already been vaccinated and pose no risk to cattle, are going to be shot dead. The government hasn't just somewhat tweaked its policy; this is going to be the largest ever seasonal cull of animals who are legally labelled as a protected species, aiming to kill over 70,000 innocent animals.
Only one in 20 incidents of bTB come from badgers. Farmers have vilified badgers for far too long, despite the evidence that the vast majority of bTB incidents are the result of the disease spreading from cattle to cattle, not from badgers.
Some badgers will be trapped and shot, others will be hunted down with ‘free shooting’, meaning that farmers - many of them inexperienced and not trained in how to shoot - will be able to hunt badgers down at night. Farmers may shoot some badgers in ‘quick-kill’ areas, such as the head, but others will be shot in the legs, the arms, or the body, left to suffer over several hours or days in agony before dying.
There was a reason why the government announced in March that they would turn to vaccinations instead; it’s based on evidence that this is by far the more effective way of reducing bTB. After seven years of relentless culling of badgers, bTB still remains prevalent among cattle herds. Why does the government think that yet another year of culling a protected animal, an atrocious act which has cost more than £60 million in taxpayers’ money, is going to fix the problem when experts are demanding the switch to vaccinations which will actually work?
The Dairy Industry
The government is prepared to kill tens of thousands of innocent animals all to protect an industry which inflicts systematic cruelty on another species, cows. Farmers artificially impregnate cows, then when their baby is born they rip them away from each other within days. Male calves are often shot within two days, because they don’t produce milk and are therefore seen as useless to the dairy industry, while females are separated from their mothers, fed milk substitutes and then go through the same fate as their mother, all so we can drink the breast milk of another animal. When a cow’s milk yield starts to drop, they are sent to slaughter, at approximately half of their natural life expectancy. We do not need dairy products to be healthy, and we do not need to support this cruel industry.
Choosing vegan products, such as oat milk, vegan chocolate or soya yoghurt, helps cows and it helps badgers; bTB would not be an issue if we didn’t intensively farm cattle and trade them around the country. Head to https://www.viva.org.uk/going-vegan for more help on making the switch today.