18 September 1998
Badger groups’ cull stance under attack

By Shelley Wright

FARMING organisations have criticised badger groups opposition to the Governments proposed tuberculosis control trials.

The National Federation of Badger Groups has warned that “it is inevitable that members of the public will demonstrate and take direct action against the killing (of badgers)”.

It has also written to EU officials, insisting that the planned trial, which will involve badger culling in some areas, contravenes Europes longest-standing wildlife treaty, the Bern Convention, to which the UK is a signatory.

According to Elaine King, NFBG conservation officer, badgers are listed as a declining species in the treaty. She expects the Bern Conventions standing committee to “condemn the Government for killing badgers instead of addressing other possible causes of TB in cattle”.

But Brian Jennings, chairman of the NFUs animal health and welfare committee, suggested the NFBGs complaint was “a bit of a red herring”, because the badger certainly was not a declining species in Britain.

And he questioned why the badger groups were now so opposed to the trials when they had been involved in all the discussions during the planning of the experiments by two independent scientific committees.

After an industry meeting on Tuesday (15 September), Mr Jennings said the badger groups were ignoring the fact that the TB control trial, announced by Government on 17 August, was accepted almost universally as scientifically robust, something they had been demanding for more than two decades.

John Bourne, the Bristol University professor who designed the trials, said anyone interfering with the experiments would be breaking the law and would delay the trials, resulting in an increase in costs and the number of badgers killed.