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Archive for October 22nd, 2007

UK: The Abominable Cull of Badgers

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Sir David King, the rather hyperactive UK Government’s Chief Scientist, has decided to forego the results of scientific research and propose a cull of badgers for the sake of stopping the spreading of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB).

What scientific research? Three major aspects, for a start: first of all, the finding that only a complete and extremely expensive eradication of all badgers would work, as they naturally move away from areas where they are getting killed; then, the universally-accepted figure of 40% of cattle bTB cases caused by badgers, that is leaving 60% of them out of the picture; and finally, the fact that there is an ongoing trial for a vaccine that would protect cattle from bTB, so the destruction of wild animals may not be needed at all.


We should ask ourselves, what would a cull be for? Let’s imagine a wholesale campaign of destruction of badgers were feasible: what kind of environment would the UK be left with? Do badgers spend their time spreading bTB, or rather do what badgers usually do, namely eat lots of other animals, and some vegetables and fruits?

How can the newly-found fashion of Being Green turn into the killing of animals?


Sir David has come up with the ridiculous idea that “culling could be effective in areas that are contained, for example, by the sea or motorways“.

I can already see the badgers stop by the Big Road thinking, it’s too wide for us, let’s get back and get exterminated

Hopefully the UK Agriculture and Environment Ministry (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) will keep doing nothing, especially as 95% of the public has expressed itself against the idea of a cull of badgers.

But it is telling that the push to destroy so much animal life comes from the same Sir David that, in the name of Science, has already said that Climate Change is a bigger threat than Terrorism, and helped prepare a report on the basis of which it has been said that (yawn!) Obesity is as much a problem as Climate Change?


As said by Professor John Bourne, Sir David’s reason to forgo the results of Science is “consistent with the political need to do something about [bTB]“.

That the same person may yell for the whole of humanity to change lifestyle to protect the environment in the future, whilst arguing to slaughter wild animals in the present, is a sad indictment of that politicised “Science” that can demonstrate everything and its opposite.


ps: bTB is a problem for farmers. What should they do? It is true that “cows are also entitled to lives“, as a farmer told the BBC, but…are we sure that such an entitlement must signify the systematic destruction of another species?

For farmers then, how about helping finding ways to improve testing for bTB, keep the badgers out, to vaccinate the herds, to manage/cure the disease?

There’s lots of things that could be solved by extermination, but who’s going to kill all cats and dogs to cut down the number of cases of zoonoses, the diseases that can spread from animals to people?

Written by omnologos

2007/Oct/22 at 21:22:53

Posted in Environment, Science, UK

Tagged with , ,