Dear Mr Evans,
Over 100,000 people, myself included, have signed a petition that has resulted in the proposed pilot Badger Cull being given a parliamentary debate on 25th October 2012. This is the first time the Badger Cull has been debated in parliament and is an opportunity for the government to by held to account for what is evidently a mistaken policy.
I am strongly opposed to the cull for the reasons below, however I must first state that my view is based on the science and economics and not in sentiment or emotion.
1. The scientific evidence does not support a badger cull. The final report of the independent scientific group on Cattle TB which conducted the Randomised Badger Culling Trials made the following conclusions and recommendations in 2007:
1. On the basis of our careful review of all currently available evidence, we conclude
that badger culling is unlikely to contribute positively, or cost effectively, to the control of
cattle TB in Britain (10.48 and 10.92).
2. We conclude that there is substantial scope for improvement of control of the
disease through the application of heightened control measures directly targeting cattle.
Therefore, we recommend that priority should be given to developing policies based on
more rigorous application of control measures to cattle, in the absence of badger culling
(10.57 and 10.93).
2. Indeed there is strong belief in the scientific community that badger culling may make TB in cattle worse http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2012/oct/14/letters-observer
3. The cull will not provide value for money for the taxpayer either and the costs of the cull will exceed the benefits to the farmers: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19981171
4. The government is on the wrong side of public opinion as shown by this recent poll http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/farming/9618598/Badger-cull-right-or-wrong.html and risks losing credibility in its wider environmental policy (remember this is supposed to be the greenest government ever).
5. Vaccination is the only long term solution to control Bovine TB in Badgers and thus reduce transmission to cattle and is being successfully trialled in several locations including Wales http://wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/disease/bovinetuberculosis/?lang=en and Cheshire http://www.chesterfirst.co.uk/news/116790/cheshire-badger-vaccination-trial-hailed-a-success.aspx, although it is too early yet to observe any results.
Bovine TB is a serious issue and is devastating to the farmers whose cattle are affected by it. Both they and the public deserve that government takes the issue seriously and gets the policy right. Unfortunately, the government has chosen a policy that will fail to make any long term impact on TB rates in cattle, waste tax-payers money, give farmers false hope of a solution, divide communities in the areas where culling will take place, and cause unnecessary destruction of, and distress to, badgers.
The cull is a mistake. The debate in parliament on Thursday, which has cross-party as well as public support, is a opportunity for the government to reassess the evidence, stop the cull, and consider the more appropriate alternative of vaccination.