RSCPA warns that “black day for badgers” will shred Government’s animal welfare credibility

The RSPCA says it is devastated that after years of contentious debate the government is expected to confirm today that it will go ahead with a badger cull in England.

Plans expected to be announced later today mean that at least 70 per cent of the badger population in large areas of the country will be killed, as part of measures to try to control bovine TB in cattle.

David Bowles, Director of Communications for the RSPCA, said: “Today is a black day for badgers - a day we have been dreading.

“At a time when the Welsh government has stepped back from a cull, the government in England is slowly shredding its own animal welfare credentials.”

The RSPCA says this is despite scientific studies showing that culling would be of little help in reducing the disease in the long-term, and could actually make things worse in some areas.

The RSPCA has long battled against various plans put forward, and previously dismissed, by different governments and says it is gravely concerned about the decision made by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

In the weeks leading up to this announcement, new research was published which showed that badger culling can more than double the risk of TB infecting cattle.

High-profile voices such as Sir David Attenborough and government adviser Lord John Krebs also say a cull could “make the situation worse” and be “ineffective”.

The RSPCA believes that vaccination of badgers, increased levels of testing, improved biosecurity and stricter controls on the movement of cattle are more effective ways of dealing with the problem in the long-term and eradicating bovine TB in cattle for good.

Colin Booty, senior scientist for the RSPCA, said: “The RSPCA is sympathetic to farmers struggling to cope with the effects of this crippling disease and thinks that the problem of bovine TB in cattle needs a sustainable and effective solution.

“But this is not such a solution. We believe that the government have taken the wrong fork in the road with this risky policy.

“This cull will contribute little or nothing to the long-term goal of eradicating TB nationally. Instead it will wipe out huge numbers of this much-loved species, including many animals which are healthy.”