31 May 2014
Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party joined other Greens and hundreds of other people on the last leg of the Great Badger Trail on Saturday May 31st. The Great Badger Trail started in Gloucester and ended outside Parliament in London – 112 miles in 10 days – with some campaigners walking the whole distance. The London leg started at Hyde Park and ended with a rally with speakers including Downton Abbey star Peter Egan.
The aim of the walk was to highlight the Government’s cruel and unnecessary policy of culling badgers and to raise money to assist campaigners in the proposed badger cull zones of Gloucester and Somerset. The supposed reason for the badger cull is to stop the spread of TB in cattle but science tells us that the cull will be ineffective. And even by its own criteria, the cull has been complete failure. With less two thousand badgers killed at an estimated cost of over £7 million, a cost of over £4,000 per animal killed. As over 80% of badgers are not thought to carry TB, this cruel cull would have a negligible effect in stopping TB in cattle.
Far more effective would be a vaccination programme as has been carried out in Wales – and far cheaper too, as cost of vaccinating badgers is less than £700 per animal, a fifth of the cost of killing badgers. But the real problem is factory farming which leads to more diseases in animals as they are far less healthy, being kept in poor and overcrowded conditions.
The real reason for the cull may not be to eradicate TB at all, but to remove badgers – which have a protected status – from areas where the Government wants to build, whether it be the HS2 rail line, fracking or housing.
“The Government sought to scapegoat badgers because it was too cowardly to tackle the real problem that is bad farming practices,” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party. “But the cull would seem to be used by the Government as a way to remove badgers from areas they want to develop and get round the badger’s protected status. This is an attack on our wildlife by a cruel, callous and incompetent Government”, he added.