And so the news is out – an independent review of the badger cull has declared that it failed in terms of effectiveness, and humaneness.
For those of us following every detail of the culls, this is sadly no surprise.
The basic story is that they didn’t kill enough badgers to meet the scientific requirement that would give the cull even a small chance of reducing bovine TB in cattle. And those they did kill, they did badly – with up to 18% of the badgers taking over five minutes to die.
But it’s not the time to dwell on what has been a disastrous policy. We need to look to the future – a future in which farmers need an answer to bTB, which is devastating cattle herds. And a future in which badgers are not scapegoated or slaughtered. There is such a future – in Wales, they chose to vaccinate badgers and bring in tighter farming practices, and in the last year have seen a massive 33% fall in the number of cattle slaughtered.
Their way is the right way. I have just been appointed CEO of the Badger Trust, in addition to my role at Care for the Wild, and a new President of the National Farmers Union has also been elected. For the sake of all the farmers in Surrey and Sussex who desperately need a solution, I will be reaching out to the new NFU President to say ‘let’s work together’, as together, farmers and wildlife supporters can beat this disease, without having to beat on each other.
CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor to Care for the Wild, Horsham