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Today is a very bad day for badgers


Today is a very bad day for badgers. It is the start of a pilot badger cull in England, which means the government are doing a test to see whether shooting badgers stops TB (a lung disease) in cattle. That means that over 5,000 of the most shy and wonderful animals in Britain will be shot.

Badgers are highly protected animals. They even have their own law, the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 which protects them and their setts (burrows) from badger-baiters and others who would want to hurt them - but not stupid governments.

Cows that have TB cannot be sold or moved. They usually have to be killed. This costs £500m a year, and costs farmers money. But are badgers to blame ?  A ten year study into bovine TB in the UK said not. It said: "culling Badgers would have no meaningful effect on bovine TB in cattle". Even the government department involved that wants the cull says "the relationship between bovine TB in badgers and in cattle is highly complex". 

To have a cull you need to shoot about 70% of the badgers in an area. But how do you know what 70% is ? Badgers aren't listed in the phone book under "B". They don't queue up at the post office. They are nocturnal, highly secretive, and most people go go their whole lives without ever seeing a live one for real. And how can you shoot 70% of anything if you don't know how many there are ?

It gets worse. If you shoot less than 70% of the number which you don't know what it is then it had little effect. But if you shoot more than 70%, then you can make things worse. How does shooting more badgers make things worse ? Because badgers then move to another area. If someone shot at you every time you stepped out your house, then you would probably think about moving house. Badgers are the same. In a trial between 1997 and 2004, shooting badgers in outbreak areas actually made things so much worse they stopped the trial.

It gets even worse still. After they shoot the badgers, they aren't even going to check if they have TB, to gather scientific data on the problem, or to see how many healthy badgers they have shot.

Even if you do all these things right, you don't get even get rid of bovine TB. Even if you shoot badgers for four years, and do five years of follow up, you only lower bovine TB by 12-16%, which is hardly anything, and it shows that badgers aren't the main culprit in spreading bovine TB.

We have already shot almost 10,000 badgers in order to prove that shooting badgers doesn't work. Why do we need to shoot another 5,000 ?

I wrote about this before, last September. Here's what I wrote then: There is a very good piece about it on the Huffington Post. You can read more about it at the RSPCA website, and also at the Just Do Something website, and also here and here.

You can show your support by signing this petition (over 233,000 signatures so far) or the one at 38 degrees (over 91,000 !), or email your MP and the Prime Minister about it at the RSPCA website. Do it now !

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Sylvía Oddný said...

Agh... Funk&Wagnall. This is just so damn stupid! And the worst thing is that it doesn't even seem like malicious stupidity, just like hypothatheory (an untested hypothesis that a person treats like a proven theory) that got out of bounds. Like, 'let's see if badgers affect TB by shooting a brickload of them and not actually checking, hu-durr!'

Sadly, I can't do anything like sign the petitions since I don't live there, but still, how moronic can people get?

Christine Sutcliffe said...

'After they shoot the badgers, they aren't even going to check if they
have TB, to gather scientific data on the problem, or to see how many
healthy badgers they have shot.'

Are you kidding me?! Then what's the point of it all if they aren't even going to attempt to justify their actions through research?
It's so stupid - it won't make a jot of difference and it's the poor badgers that'll end up paying the price. Surely the best way to tackle bovine TB is to, oh I don't know, VACCINATE the cattle?! >.<

Jake said...

At least a circus tries to look after its animals !

Jake said...

It's worse that that, there is evidence that at best it only helps a tiny amount and at worse it actually spreads TB.

Jake said...

You can't vaccinate cows because they then test positive for TB whether or not they have it, but you can vaccinate badgers (like they are doing in Wales)

Daniel said...

WHAT!!!!! I love badgers! I hope they don't kill'em.

Phil said...

Hey, I found a largely decomposed badger last night, it still has meat on its limbs and has a leathery skin around it, what can I do with it?

Jake said...

You could cover it and leave it to decompose some more like I did here: http://www.jakes-bones.com/2013/04/a-lucky-week-for-me-but-unlucky-one-for.html

Christine Sutcliffe said...

Ahh, I knew there must have been some reason for not doing that but still, there's got to be a better method of controlling the disease than killing things!

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