Badger Culling
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Badger Culling

In response to the claim that badgers account for the spread of TB in cattle, the government has been involved in extensive campaign of badger culling in several areas. Even before this, the Department for the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Fisheries and Food have been culling badgers for the same reason over the past 30 years. Estimations note that so far 30,000 badgers have been killed in the badger culling operations.

In the year 1975, the government launched this program where badgers were gassed to death inside their setts using a powder that released hydrogen cyanide. This method was claimed to be a humane method of killing badgers. Till 1982, about 4,000 badger setts were gassed, putting an end to the lives of more than 10,000 badgers. The studies accompanying the campaign revealed that the concentration of the gas released was not enough to cause quick deaths in badger setts. As a result, the method was called off. Since then, badgers have been trapped in cages and shot to death.

Even under the present badger culling measures, the sufferings of the creatures cannot be ruled out. Before being shot, the badgers suffer stressful hours of confinement and vain trials of escape. In the process of getting their teeth and claws through the mesh of the cage, the badgers get seriously injured. Though badger culling is not undertaken during the peak-breeding season, the cubs born in December are orphaned and face starving deaths. These incidents certainly amount to unacceptable cruelty to these poor animals.

Headed by Professor John Bourne, the Independent Scientific Group closely studied the outcome of the badger culling operations. In selected countryside terrains of about 1,000 square kilometers, the program involved three zones. In the first zone, all the badgers were extinguished completely. In the second zone there was a partial culling while the badgers were left untouched in the third zone. The experiment studied the implications of badger culling on the spread of cattle TB. The results of the experiment released recently are noteworthy.

During the past years, the badger culling programs were not scientifically evaluated and the implications of badger culling in reducing cattle TB had not been ascertained clearly. However, the report released in June 2007 by the ISG, Governments Independent Scientific Group after a ten year extensive research on this issue has observed that while 73 percent of badgers were culled during the operation, the cattle TB has not dramatically reduced either. Stating that badger culling may even worsen the situation, the research team has suggested cattle-based control measures as a potential and viable alternative.

Looking from the above angles, there are positive signs all around indicating that badger culling will come to an end at a sooner date letting these poor creatures play around on the bosom of mother earth.


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