New Podcast Uploaded: Alick Simmons

After a bit of time off with bursitis (too much editing for my old elbow to manage!), I’ve uploaded a lively conversation with Alick Simmons we recorded a few weeks ago.

Here’s what i said in the spoken intro:

Alick Simmons is a vet, naturalist and photographer with a particular interest in the ethics of wild animal management and welfare. After a period in private practice, he began a notable 35-year career as a Government veterinarian much of which was spent promoting animal and public health and welfare involving disease control at the national and international level.

He was Veterinary Director at the Food Standards Agency between 2003 and 2007 and was then appointed Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer of Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

During an eventful life in government he was heavily involved in the control of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (or BSE) and was key in decisions made around eradicating bovine tuberculosis (or BTB) which lead to the start of the government’s current badger culling strategy.

Alick retired (or semi-retired) in late 2015, but has kept extremely busy. As well as being a member of the Wild Animal Welfare Committee, whose conference we’ve covered here on Lush, he volunteers for the RSPB and NE in Somerset, is chair of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, and a trustee of Dorset Wildlife Trust.

My name is Charlie Moores and I met Alick in March this year at the Wild Animal Welfare Committee conference, which was looking at some of the thornier issues around – as it says on the tin – the welfare of wild animals.

We bonded over some excellent wildlife photographs he’d taken on recent trips overseas, and arranged to meet up at his home in rural Somerset.

Our conversation took in his early life, his career, BSE and the badger cull, his love of wildlife, and his current views on animal welfare and disease control. I was particularly interested in why vets – who you’d assume all have animal welfare at the forefront of their thinking can have such differing views on wildlife – and how a scientist used to working with data and statistics dealt with ethical considerations involving sentience and the ‘value’ we put on wild animals in a world where most of us are increasingly disconnected from those animals.

What follows is the distillation of a fascinating day and it begins with a question about whether Alick had actually always wanted to be a vet…

The podcast can be found at Alick Simmons | Badgers, BSE, and wild animal welfare