Spelman sentenced badgers to ‘target practice’

Reacting to DEFRA’s intention to introduce two pilot areas for a badger cull, the Badger Trust has said Caroline Spelman has sentenced badgers to “target practice”.

A representative from the charity said the proposals would likely lead to a “fragmented and confusing set of facts” and said the method of free shooting running badgers at night was “untried, untested and its results unpredictable”.

“The proposed pilot will simply use badgers as target practice to see if gunmen can shoot them, with no regard to whether they are diseased of healthy.”

They accused Mrs Spelman of submerging the issue of bovine tuberculosis into “unscientific confusion” in a way that would damage the interests of the farmers she is trying to help.

“For far too long, too much effort and time has been devoted to badgers and far too little to the main causes of TB spread – ineffective testing, lax controls over cattle movements and illegal activities. She must shoulder some of the blame for that.

“The minister also appears to have learnt nothing about the risks associated with perturbation, a behaviour pattern which applies only to badgers,” they added.

“The very best scientific evidence makes it abundantly clear: disturbing stable social groups carries a serious risk of making the spread of bTB even more of a menace, and the shooting method she puts her faith in will surely make perturbation much worse. Her claim that this pilot exercise is science-led is not sustainable.”

Farmers Weekly has set up a dedicated channel for all stories connected to proposals for a badger cull.

Don’t let your opinion go unheard – have your say on this topic on the FWi forums.

View a transcript of our live chat about the badger cull decision.