TB consultation: What the papers say

Government plans to allow farmers to cull badgers to control tuberculosis in cattle have attracted widespread attention in the national media. Caroline Stocks takes a look at the mainstream media’s coverage of the cull consultation:

The Times:

5000 badgers to be shot in anti-TB cull

Farmers in England will be granted licences to shoot badgers in areas where there is a high rate of tuberculosis in cattle, under government plans to tackle the spread of the diease.

About 5000 badgers are likely to be killed in the first 12 months of the new regime, due to start next May after a public consultation.

The Times comment piece: Not Black and White: A badger cull would cause needless deaths while not preventing TB in cattle:

The government’s case is in practice flawed. Its plan would have uncertain benefits and would not be policed. There is no assurance that issuing licences to farmers would result in an orderly management of wildlife rather than a threat to it.

The case for staying farmers’ hands is not founded in an anthropomorphic fallacy about the sage associate of Ratty, Mole and Toad. It is simpler than that. We like badgers.

The Independent:

Government reverses Labour policy with plan for badger cull

The saga of badgers and tuberculosis in cattle returned to the centre stage of politics yesterday as the Government unveiled proposals to allow farmers to cull badgers in TB hotspots – a complete reversal of the previous government’s policy.

The announcement delighted the farming community but left animal welfare and wildlife groups expressing dismay. It foreshadows a serious struggle, with determined challenges expected to the culling policy in the courts, and perhaps through direct action in the countryside.

The Telegraph:

Activists may target badger-cull farmers:

Farmers could be targeted by animal rights activists after being given the go-ahead for a shoot-on-sight badger cull, warned Jim Paice, the farming minister.

Mr Paice said a badger cull in England must go ahead to stop the animals spreading the cattle disease bovine tuberculosis.

There are concerns that the plans may face a legal challenge and farmers will be targeted by animal rights activists.

Time up for dear old Badger?

[Badgers] are entrenched in our folklore, their nocturnal lives and relatively rare sightings adding to their mystery. All this has helped ensure that badger enjoys the best protection of all Britain’s species, despite not needing it.

The Daily Mail

Farmers to get green light to cull tens of thousands of badgers in war on bovine TB

Tens of thousands of badgers will be slaughtered under controversial plans to halt the spread of TB in cattle, the Government announced yesterday.

The move, which will allow farmers to shoot and trap the protected mammals in disease hotspots, was backed by landowners but condemned by animal welfare campaigners.

While farmers welcomed the new plans, animal welfare campaigners said the slaughter was cruel, unfair and unnecessary.

The Guardian:

Badger cull plans for England unveiled

The government has challenged farmers in England to put their money where their mouths are and pay for the culling of badgers in the fight against tuberculosis in cattle. But the proposals to license farmers to kill badgers have been dismissed as “scientifically among the worst options they could have chosen” by the leading UK’s leading badger ecologist.

• For more on the proposed cull click here, or have your say in our forum.