Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few days, you will know a cull of badgers has started in two areas of the Westcountry, amid much controversy. But one thing is starting to concern me is the fact they are not testing of the badgers being shot for bTB. Why is this?
It would be a great opportunity to learn how many badgers have bTB, and how many are infectious with disease. And yet they are not doing this, which is baffling until you look at DEFRAs statement:
“As a first step, there would be a pilot of the policy in two areas to confirm our assumptions about the effectiveness (in terms of badger removal), humaneness and safety of culling,” culling meaning shooting the badgers. SO they are testing how effective shooting is. So why are they shooting them?
What happens if shooting is found to be ineffective and inhumane? Owen Paterson, who is behind this badger cull, thinks shooting of foxes is not humane and we lack the marksmen to shoot them, so surely that means that we don’t have enough for shooting badgers humanely?
So imagine we are a few years down the line and shooting has been ruled ineffective or inhumane, then what? They could try cage trapping, but this has been deemed ‘too expensive’ (and it would be just as easy to give the badger a vaccine rather than just shoot them). What I fear coming is that DEFRA will have then having positioned themselves tosay “well shooting didn’t work and cage trapping and vaccinating badgers is too expensive, which leaves with only one option – gassing badger setts.”
Perhaps I am being cynical and pessimistic, but is this whole pilot scheme about justifying gassing badger politically? Well it turns out gassing is a possibility for the future so perhaps, sadly, I’m on to something…..
Update 6pm 28-8-13
I asked Defra on Twitter:
@DefraGovUK I ask again. What happens if shooting badgers fails, will you start gassing setts?
To which they replied:
.@UK_Wildlife there is currently not enough evidence on the humaneness of the use of gasses.
Dodged the question nicely, so I replied:
@DefraGovUK ‘currently’? So its possible you may use it in the future then if u decide shooting not humane after pilot cull?
and asked at 9.43am:
@DefraGovUK yes or no, will gassing of setts happen if shooting badgers fails on humane or effectiveness grounds?
at 12.02pm (please excuse the typo!)
@DefraGovUK yes or no is gassing bashers next if shooting fails? Y do u not answer question directly?
@DefraGovUK I’ll ask again. Yes or no. Is gassing badgers next if shooting fails?
Despite many people retweeting the above (thanks for that folks) they did not reply with a real yes/no answer once, just stated their one probably scripted answer to a different question!