Podcast Uploaded: The Badger Cull | Judicial Reviews 2019

Uploaded to Lush Player June 2019: “The Badger Cull | Judicial Reviews 2019

From the spoken intro to this podcast:

“Back in December 2011, the Government announced that it intended to go forward with trial badger culls in two 150 km2 areas. These would take place over a 6-week period with the aim of reducing the badger population by 70% in each area. Two years later Pilot badger culls commenced in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

A cull of one of the UK’s most protected mammals, it was hoped, would control (according to government estimates) by up to 16% a year the spread of bovine tuberculosis (or bovine TB) – a disease of cattle, that in the year 2010/11, when the cull announcemnet was first made, had led to the slaughter of 25,000 diseased cattle in England with compensation to farmers costing taxpayers £91 million.

25,000 cattle slaughtered because of bovine TB sounds high, but it’s worth remembering that every year around two million cattle are slaughtered for their meat in the UK anyway, tens of thousands of cattle are culled annually because of mastitis, lameness, and infertility problems, bTB has been almost completely eradicated as a threat to the public by the pasteurisation of milk (pasteurisation kills the bacteria that causes bovine TB), and the evidence is pretty clear that it’s poor biosecurity and the movement of diseased cattle between herds – and indeed regions of the country – that is the main cause of its spread.

In the meantime, driven by government policy and, as ecologist Tom Langton explains in the following discussion, an unwillingness by academics to admit to previous oversights and the implications of new findings, badgers are dying at a huge cost to them – and to us. By the end of 2018, the government had spent over £50m of public funds killing over 67,000 badgers – 32,000 of them in 2018 alone.

More badgers are slated to die in 2019, but while the slaughter of badgers appears to be expanding the cull is facing a number of legal challenges and judicial reviews, and Tom Langton has been one of those at the forefront of taking the government to court.

I spoke with Tom in late-May this year to understand more about the basis for the challenges, about the ‘carnivore release effect’ which ludicrously has led to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ordering in some areas the shooting of foxes as a result of the removal of badgers to protect cattle, ‘low risk area’ culling, and – most controversially perhaps – Tom’s opinion that it’s the responsibility of academics to now admit that the cull is a ‘nonsense’.

We begin though with Tom explaining about two upcoming legal challenges…”

  • Since I spoke withTom, supplementary badger culling has been authorised in Gloucestershire, Somerset and for the first time in north Dorset. Tom emailed me in mid June to say that the government is busy announcing that badger culling is working, based upon a secret report unavailable to the public. Ministers are busy saying  badger culling is working, as they did when misquoting the report of the first two years of badger culling in 2017.

These are strange times indeed.

If you would like to see this ‘nonsense’ – as Tom labels it – stopped, you can help the legal fight against badger culling by visiting thebadgercrowd.org website and following the ‘donate’ button to the Badger Trust Sussex crowd fund page.

Tom also has a new scientific paper on the Randomised Badger Culling Trial in the current journal of Dairy and Veterinary Sciences.

I uploaded a podcast recently recorded at the country’s first badger vaccination symposium which considers badger vaccination as an alternative to culling – it’s not a route everyone agrees with but the podcast is on Lush Player and can be found by typing badger into the search bar (this will bring up a slection of six podcasts on the cull)

Finally, following a Tweet I put out saying this podcast was on its way, someone messaged me to say; ‘Night follows day, but will Gove follow May‘? Will Michael Gove be pulled out of Defra in a few weeks time and sent to the back benches when Boris Johnson takes over as prime-minister?

lf so, who will be prepared to take on the slaughter of so many wild animals?

It will perhaps be difficult to find another two people like Theresa May and Michael Gove quite so willing to kill and injure so many badgers, but the feeling amongst activists does seem to be that many people in positions of power simply want badgers killed – no matter what science, conservation, or even morality says…

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