Earlier this year, the British government announced that it was phasing out the pointless badger cull it has been championing for the past five years. It lied. Instead of stopping the badger cull, it increased the scope and number of badger culling areas.
This is not fake news. Dr Iain McGill, one of a group of vets campaigning against badger culling, says over 100,000 badgers have been killed so far, with 35,000 killed in 2019 alone. Friend, right now the government plans to drive up the death toll, targeting another 65,000 badgers before Christmas.
This is simply outrageous, and it is being done for no purpose! The British government falsely claims that killing badgers will stop the transmission of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) from badgers to cattle. But Dr McGill’s group is adamant that there is not a shred of evidence to support the claim that badgers are driving the epidemic in cattle. Cows mostly catch TB from other cows.
As the top body of British vets, the BVA has the ear of the government and regularly meets with top officials. In this position of power, the BVA has a clear duty to take into consideration ethical concerns and apply the best science to its policies. Unbelievably, the BVA ignores the science and while admitting that the main method used to kill badgers – which is to stalk the country at night armed with rifles and shoot them on sight – causes suffering, but still supports the policy, merely suggesting that badgers should be trapped before being shot.
And the final part of this horror story is that the overwhelming majority of these murdered badgers are perfectly healthy, bTB free, and pose no risk to anyone or anything.
It is far more likely that cows will catch bTB from another cow than from a badger. Only around six percent of cattle infections might originate from badgers.
If proof is needed, here it is: Bovine tuberculosis rates in one of the pilot badger cull zones in Gloucestershire shot up 130% between 2017 and 2018. That means that after five years of culling badgers, a higher percentage of cattle herds had bTB than before culling started!
Most vets are compassionate human beings which makes it even more extraordinary that their professional body should support the pointless slaughter of 65,000 badgers in the next two months.
The UK government is using badger killing as a smokescreen to hide the real problem which is an ongoing epidemic of bTB among cows caused by an outdated skin test from a century ago. The government’s own data show that the routine skin test that vets use fails to pick up around 50% of infected cows, leaving them in the herd to cause further infections. Movement controls for cattle use the same test, ensuring that infected cattle continue to spread bTB to new areas of the country.