Yet another badger rant

The science shows that culling badgers would spread, not limit the spread of cattle TB, according to Roy Hattersley, writing in the Guardian today

.. the assumption that culling will reduce the incidence of the disease is wrong. Indeed, unless we brush aside the work of Britain’s most distinguished conservation scientists, we have to conclude that the sort of cull proposed by Sir David King, the government’s chief scientific adviser, will do more harm than good.

Well said, Roy. He points out that killing badgers will only placate the influential National Farmers’ Union leaders who have either no rational idea what to do or who see more effective responses as too costly.

The argument is that limited killing of badgers would be counter-productive. David McDonald of Oxford University calculated that a cull in Cornwall – the central focus – would cut the TB incidence there by 20% but increase the level outside the cull area by 27%.

An unlimited culling of badgers would surely be an environmental crime of immense proprtions. No government needs to placate farmers that badly. Can’t we just pay them to leave the badgers alone or to vaccinate their cattle?

Roy Hattersley, points out that, even if the government doesn’t follow the simple moral path and refuse the cull, there would be a serious political fallout.

there is no doubt that, should ministers decide to follow his (the chief scientist’s) advice, they would unleash a countrywide campaign that would make the pro-hunting protesters seem half-hearted.

Well, I’m not holding my breath on the government’s taking an ethical stance on this. However, as a distinguished old-Labour politician, Hattersley is probably pretty shrewd when it comes to judging what might have influence on the Department of the Environment. Let’s hope that a government keen to paint itself as green doesn’t miss his message.