Scientists call on new prime minister to stop the cull

“The scientists say the badger cull, intended to curb tuberculosis in cattle, is a “risky, costly, and inhumane” distraction and may actually increase TB infections”, reported the Guardian last week.

Three professors, John Bourne, Rosie Woodroffe and Ranald Munro, have sent a letter to Theresa May, urging her to halt the “failed” policy.

It was Bourne and Woodroffe that ran the £50 ‘Krebs trials’ ending in 2007, concluding a badger cull could “make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain”.

It was Munro that led the independent panel that scrutinised the first year of the so-called pilot culls in 2013, concluding they were ineffective and inhumane. No independent oversight was appointed the following year.

In preparation for the fourth year of culls, the license conditions have been loosened. “The license conditions have not delivered effective culls yet and the changes made since are only going to make them less effective,” said Woodroffe. “So culling could very easily make a serious problem for farmers worse.”

Stop the Cull spokesperson Jay Tiernan says that DEFRA figures show TB cases in Dorset, which started culls last September, have risen by 250%, from 12 outbreaks in Jan-June 2015, to 31 in Jan-June 2016. “The Somerset zone had 13 ongoing bTB outbreaks when the badger cull started 3 years ago, it now has 20. Gloucestershire cull zone had 15 ongoing outbreaks, that number has now increased to 19”, he says.

Meanwhile, NFU president Meurig Raymond says up to seven new areas could be licensed to cull badgers this year, bringing the total number of cull areas in England to 10.