BVA backs badger cull report and calls for clear improvements
The British Veterinary Association has welcomed the Government's decision not to roll out badger culling using controlled shooting to new areas. It is now calling for further detail and assurances before it supports the continuation of the pilots later this year.
The Government announced that badger culling would not be rolled out to other areas but that the pilot culls would continue in Gloucestershire and Somerset to complete the four years of culling set out in the original plans. Defra also announced that improvements would be made to the pilot culls.
The BVA Council has agreed a position that:
· recognises that evidence from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial suggests that if culling in the pilot areas is stopped now there is a significant risk that this will lead to an increase in TB in cattle in those areas
· states that BVA could only support further culling in the pilot areas if steps are taken to improve both its effectiveness and the humaneness of controlled shooting and if there is robust monitoring and collation of results, and independent analysis and auditing by a non-governmental body
· supports the IEP's recommendations for improving effectiveness and humaneness and urges Defra to implement all the IEP's recommendations fully
· states that Defra's current response to the IEP's recommendations does not provide BVA with sufficient detail or assurances to satisfy us that it will deliver the necessary improvements in effectiveness or humaneness
BVA is now seeking further dialogue with Defra to clarify the Government's response and strengthen the implementation of the proposed improvements.
Commenting, BVA President Robin Hargreaves said:
"BVA has always been clear that we could not support the roll out of controlled shooting as a method to cull badgers if it was found to be inhumane or ineffective, and we therefore welcome the Government's decision not to roll out the cull to new areas.
"However, we must also take a position that will deliver the best possible outcomes for disease control and we know from evidence in the Randomised Badger Culling Trial that if culling in the pilot areas is stopped now there is a significant risk that this will lead to an increase in TB in cattle.
"In reaching our position we have carefully weighed up both the scientific evidence and ethical arguments, as well as considering the views of our individual members and specialist divisions.
"It is absolutely essential that significant changes are made to the pilot culls to address the issues of effectiveness and humaneness. The IEP has made strong recommendations to Defra and we not only urge Defra to implement them all fully but will be looking for detailed assurances of how this will be done before deciding whether we could support the continuation.
"We also believe that robust monitoring and collation of results, and independent analysis and auditing by a non-governmental body is imperative.
"We will be meeting with Defra as soon as possible to discuss all of these issues."
However this comes as Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has announced that he intends to extend the Government's badger cull across the country. Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle MP, said:
"Owen Paterson has let it slip in his local newspaper that he intends to roll out the government's discredited badger cull across the country.
"An Independent Expert Panel concluded that the current pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire were ineffective and inhumane yet David Cameron's government is determined to waste more public money on them.
"Bovine TB is one of the most important issues facing farmers today. It is a scourge and a threat to their livelihoods but rather than work in a bi-partisan way and focus on a science-based solution to the problem the Government is determined to press ahead with a failed strategy that has let farmers down."