Mercury readers vote against badger culls

Badger emerges from its sett in a Forestry Commission wood in North Yorkshire.
Badger emerges from its sett in a Forestry Commission wood in North Yorkshire.

Mercury readers do not support the Government’s badger culling programme, an exclusive poll on our website reveals.

We asked readers if they supported the planned cull of badgers to try to stop the spread of bovine TB in a poll last week.

A total of 118 people voted in the survey and opinion was split 45 per cent in favour of the culls and 55 per cent against.

The survey came in the wake of MP’s – including Dales representative Patrick McLoughlin – voting for the trial culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the summer.

The Government claims the cull is needed to halt the spread of bovine tuberculosis – known to be carried by badgers – which has led to the slaughter of thousands of infected cattle.

The trials will test an untried method of shooting free-running badgers.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust conservation manager Tim Birch said: “We are extremely disappointed that MPs have voted to support the cull.

“The science is perfectly clear that a cull will not solve the problem of bovine tuberculosis.

“With the huge cost of policing the cull it is clear that shooting badgers will be more expensive than vaccinating them.”

Irene Brierton, chair of the Mid Derbyshire Badger Group, added: “We urge the Government to rethink its misguided policy of culling badgers and instead move rapidly to a vaccination programme, combined with increased biosecurity measures on farms and tougher restrictions on cattle movements across the country.

“Transmission among cattle is the greatest problem – killing badgers is a damaging diversion. We all need to work together to stop badgers becoming the scapegoats for this costly disease.”

A ten-year pilot badger culling programme took place in England between 1997 and 2007. It was led by Lord Krebs who concluded that culling badgers was “not an effective way of controlling the disease”.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has launched an appeal for a five-year badger vaccination programme in the county. Visit www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/badger for details.