A badger cull will not solve the problem of bovine TB, notes Richard Mountford in The Observer today. It could even make it worse
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A badger cull is not scientifically justifiable (‘On the hills and farms of England, friend and foe await the badger’s fate’, News, last week). The government’s own independent scientific group found that killing badgerswould not significantly reduce bovine TB and could even make it more prevalent because it causes the badgers to disperse to new areas.
However, the government (not for the first time) has been overly influenced by the National Farmers’ Union, which is why it supports a cull. One reason that the NFU is so keen on a badger cull is that it does not wish to accept that today’s agricultural practices are largely responsible for TB in cattle.
Stressed animals, selectively bred to grow at an unnatural rate, and living unnatural, unhealthy lives in factory farms, are vulnerable to disease. Illness then spreads rapidly within overcrowded intensive farms. Long-distance travel and livestock markets spread disease around the country, and live export spreads it even further. Badgers are not the problem; poor farming is.