Southampton Itchen Labour MP John Denham has called for a halt to plans for a cull of badgers. Mr Denham argues not only is it cruel, but it is unnecessary and will not deal with the long term problems of tuberculosis being transmitted to cattle.
John is concerned that DEFRA is pressing ahead with a badger cull despite previous studies strongly indicating that culls are not effective.
A cull of badgers is likely to start in a matter of weeks after Natural England issued the two licences for the pilot cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset. He has received a large number of letters from concerned Southampton residents, protesting at the decision.
- The cull could make TB worse. Localised culling significantly increases the TB risk in neighbouring herds due to a “peturbation” effect, when traumatised badgers move out of cull areas and spread the disease, particularly in the first two years.
- The costs will exceed the benefits. DEFRA’s impact assessment states: “For farmers in cull areas, monetised costs exceed expected monetised benefits.” So the costs to farmers will exceed the benefits.
- Taxpayers will still pay for TB testing, monitoring, issuing licences and judging the effectiveness of the cull. In addition, the costs of providing armed police to manage any public protest at cull sites is estimated by the government to cost taxpayers £500,000 per cull area per year to police. Police will also bear the costs of licensing firearms.
- Lord Krebs, the top scientist whose study the Government are relying on to justify the cull has called it a “crazy scheme”.
- It could lead to wildlife crime and wiping out local badger populations.
John Denham said:
“The Tory-led government is going ahead with a badger cull that will cost more than it saves, will put a huge strain on the police and will spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers are disturbed by the shooting. Not only will it cause great suffering to these creatures, but it is the worst possible option to address the problem.
“Bovine TB is a terrible disease that needs to be controlled. I understand the frustration of the farming community affected by the devastating impacts of bovine TB. However, this cull is not the way to do it.
“150 000 people have already signed the e-petition against the cull. The Government should stop, listen to the scientists, and abandon the cull.”