The Save Me Trust confirmed that the lawfulness of the decisions to issue the licences today will be challenged by a Judicial Review in the High Court. To continue the culling of badgers is unlawful as it does not rationally serve the statutory purpose which permits the killing of badgers only to achieve the aim of preventing the spread of disease. Additionally, there has been a fundamental failure in the consultation process, a logically flawed approach in calculating badger numbers and a failure in Gloucestershire - in any event - to meet its minimum targets in 2013 and 2014.
Dr May said, “We are all hugely disappointed that the Government has decided to continue its cull policy, despite Natural England's Scientific Advisor branding the badger cull 'an epic failure’. The government should quit now, and save the taxpayer more fruitless expense”.
The Government's own Independent Expert Panel (the IEP, now disbanded) damned the cull as 'ineffective and inhumane’. The British Veterinary Association also condemned the free shooting of badgers, but all this advice continues to be ignored.
The legendary Queen guitarist and founder of the Save Me Trust said “The badger cull has been a disaster and has cost British taxpayers over £5,000 per badger, worse still, it’s certain that most of the murdered badgers are perfectly healthy and free of bovine TB, but since the government has refused to test any of the dead badgers in the pilot zones, this cannot be proved”. He continued, “This is a tragedy for our farmers, cattle and wildlife; the scientific advice has been ignored by Ministers with more badgers set to die again this year. This awful policy must be put to bed now, in favour of a policy that really will address the TB problem in cattle.”.
Anne Brummer CEO of the Save Me Trust said, “The science categorically does not support the continuation or widening of the cull to new areas – many areas within the Government’s ‘high-risk zone’ for bovine TB, including Dorset, have seen a statistically significant fall in bTB outbreaks over the two years. In Dorset, the number of bTB outbreaks has fallen from 36 to 20 during that time. In fact, across the South West region there has been a year-on-year fall in the number of cattle slaughtered of approximately 12% from 2012-2014. These reductions have occurred in the absence of badger culling across the vast majority of the region.”.
The cull companies in both Gloucestershire and Somerset fell short of achieving targets set as conditions of their licences during the first year of culling. In Gloucestershire, the contractors also failed to meet the considerably reduced targets in the second year.
Anne Brummer continues, “The worrying increase in herd breakdowns on the periphery of the Somerset cull zone would appear to mirror the situation experienced during the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) around proactively culled areas, where the incidence in bovine TB in cattle increased significantly.”.
Vaccination of badgers has now been proved to be viable and effective. The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales has reported that “incidents of TB have fallen by 28%” without badger culling. The reduction has been achieved with cattle-based measures and badger vaccination.
Science has conclusively demonstrated the effectiveness of vaccinating wild badgers, which makes them 76% less likely to develop progressive TB.
The government should drop its cull policy and instead develop its support programme for vaccinating badgers. The badger cull is a failed policy and it needs to be consigned to history.