Dear Stephen Metcalfe MP,
As I am sure you are aware there is a debate the badger cull on 13 March and a vote on whether the Government’s culling policy should continue.
Even a glance at what happened last years cull, with the failure to cull enough badgers, even with its extensions and the governments own independent scientific assessment showing it was ineffective and failed humaneness tests shows the whole thing was a waste of time. The cost of this ineffective cull has been estimated at £2.5 million in policing costs alone.
Added to this is the sad fact that culling won’t reduce bTB rates in cattle, according to leading experts. Lord Krebs, lead scientist on the trials of badger culls that DEFRA claim to have based current policy on on have said the cull is “complete fiasco” and “even crazier” than anticipated.
Something has to be done about bTB, but science shows culling will not work. The best case scenario from culling is a 16% reduction (its that enough to really be worth it?), and that is only in the culled area. Trails have shown due to perturbation effects there areas around the cull will see an increase in bTB as badgers move around – the ‘barriers’ such as roads and rivers are not real barriers to badgers which are good swimmers! In the end a study has shown that only 5.6% of bTB cases come from badgers, the rest coming from other cattle or other sources.
Lord Krebs and other scientists recommend that increased biosecurity in cattle farming and movement. The recent outbreak in Cumbria after cattle were moved from a bTB hotspot show the madness of the current lack of regulation and its enforcement. Sadly the government have put forward plans to cut regulation at a time when they are needed even more, with ear tag swapping of injected cattle and unreliable bTB tests being used just worsening the problems.
As for eliminating the 5.6% from badgers, better biosecurity as mentioned above is part of the solution, this will also help in stopping badgers catching the disease from cattle in the first place, but returning money to research on a bTB vaccine in badgers, perhaps from the money saved from not carrying out the cull, would be of great benefit. Getting the EU to allow UK to to use cattle vaccine would also be of great help.
DEFRA needs to stop basing its policy on what the NFU want (a Union that represents just 20% of those in farming) and basing policy on real science to solve this problem.
I hope you will attend the debate and vote against the roll out of a pointless cull that will help no one.