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Thursday, September 05, 2013

The badger cull is an ineffective waste of time

Far be it from me to seek legitimacy for my point of view from the Telegraph, however this article by Tom Chivers has hit the nail on the head as far as the badger cull in England is concerned.

As it happens Mr. Chivers is repeating what I and many others have been saying for a number of years now. The difference is that he understands the science and writes more fluently than me. Surely it is significant that the Telegraph of all papers is turning against the Government on one of their flagship policies for the English countryside.

He says that the ongoing cull of badgers, intended to curb tuberculosis in cattle, is stupid, it has already been shown to be ineffective as a policy, and the Government is surely only doing it to shut farmers up, rather than out of any conviction that it will do any good. He quotes the ten year Krebs trial to back up his argument and then he makes the decisive point:

The problem is, badgers are territorial. If you kill a badger, and there's another badger next door, that badger or its offspring will move into the dead badger's area. And when you're trying to reduce the spread of an infectious disease, the last thing you want is disease-carrying animals leaving their territories and moving into other ones. So while the farms in the centre of a culling area see a decent-sized drop, farms on the edge, with new badgers pouring in to fill the gaps left by the cull, will see an actual increase. Essentially, while the badger cull will reduce the TB problem slightly at great cost, it will mainly just move it around a bit.

But farmers want something done, and for some reason governments are traditionally scared of annoying farmers. So they're killing badgers to placate them. As Lord Krebs says, this is about politics, not science.

A vaccination programme may be more expensive than the current shooting madness but at least it will effective in the long run and actually help to eradicate this disease once and for all.
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