GOVERNMENT must listen to the "overwhelming public opposition" to the proposal to kill thousands of badgers according to a leading animal welfare charity.
RSPCA - Defra must acknowledge concern over cull
Photo: Vanessa Latford/RSPCA Photolibrary
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is pointing to the announcement yesterday (July 12th) that 95 per cent of respondents to Defra's public consultation on badger-culling opposed a mass cull.
The Government - supported by the vast majority of farmers' and their representatives - proposed the cull as a means of tackling the increasing incidence of Bovine TB among British cattle herds.
Many farmers' believe that Badgers are the primary method of transmission for the notifiable disease. The science behind this belief is disputed by animal welfare and conservation groups such as the RSPCA and the Badger Trust.
"The overwhelming opposition to culling badgers is phenomenal, especially when you consider that the government received a record 47,474 responses to its consultation," said the RSPCA's director of animal welfare promotion, John Rolls.
"We welcome Ben Bradshaw's statement that the decision on culling should be based on sound science," continued Mr Rolls.
"However, there is robust scientific research which clearly shows that proactive badger-culling actually increases TB infection in cattle in surrounding areas and achieves only a limited reduction within the areas targeted.
"The government should reject a cull now and concentrate instead on effective ways to combat the spread of the disease."
The RSPCA points to its "strong" support for the introduction of pre-movement testing of cattle in March this year. The Society insists it will continue to press for the urgent introduction of other measures, which it says are known to be effective in combating bovine TB. These are:
post-movement testing of cattle
quarantine arrangements for cattle moved from farm-to-farm
the increased use of the more reliable gamma-interferon test.
The government should reject a cull now and concentrate instead on effective ways to combat the spread of the disease
John Rolls - RSPCA director of animal welfare promotion
Mr Rolls continued: "We understand farmers' frustration about the problem of bovine TB and we have called for financial assistance to farmers to implement effective measures to tackle the disease.
"It is also encouraging to see that the latest figures show a marked decline in the incidence of the disease this year."