Details of the latest badger culls in over 50 areas of England is expected to be announced by mid-September, and leaked Government documents suggest Warwickshire is now being considered for the first time.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has written to MPs and published an open letter to farmers, expressing concern about the impact farmers face from bovine tuberculosis (bTB), but highlighting that culling badgers will not stop the spread of the disease.
Bovine tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease of cattle and since the mid-1980s, the incidence of bTB in cattle has increased substantially. This creates an economic burden on the taxpayer and the farming industry, as infected cattle are culled. However, badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of bTB in cattle, which is via cow-to-cow contact.
In Warwickshire, all cattle herds are subject to six-monthly bTB testing. Cattle keepers must also comply with pre-movement testing requirements i.e. all cattle 42 days old and over moving out of a herd must have tested negative to a bTB test within 60 days before movement, unless an exemption applies to the animal being moved or the type of movement. The Government should be doing more to support farmers to enhance their bio-security measures.
Earlier this year the Government said that it was committed to expanding and supporting vaccination of badgers and phasing out their culling. Yet the reality is the complete opposite and for the first time, badgers could be shot in Warwickshire this autumn.
Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said “We work closely with farmers across our Arden Farm Wildlife Network, Living Landscapes and agricultural advice projects. Farmers also support our work by grazing some of our nature reserves with their cattle. We therefore understand the devastation that bovine tuberculosis can cause. However, the culling of badgers is not the answer and we urge the government to help farmers by investing properly in the development of a cattle vaccine, and supporting farmers to develop enhanced bio-security measures whilst at the same time expanding the badger vaccination programme.”
Please support our campaign to stop the cull in Warwickshire.