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
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.