The Family Farmers’ Association is calling for a more humane approach to the badger cull in its winter newsletter, just published.
The Devon-based organisation says it is waiting “with some anxiety” for the independent panel’s reports into the safety, humaneness and effectiveness of the two pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
That report, which is already overdue, is now expected in March and could trigger the roll-out of further culls in bovine TB hotspot areas, including Devon and Cornwall.
But the FFA suggests: “A more scientific solution which we, and many others, have advocated all along, would seem more effective and more humane. That is, as we have said so many times, to identify sick badgers and put their complete sett painlessly to sleep with car exhaust fumes.”
The organization, which represents smaller family farmers, also calls for a reversal of the Badger Act which currently outlaws badger control. “Surely the police could prevent illegal badger baiting at a more modest cost [than the cost of the culls]? Farmers and gamekeepers would then remove badgers who were a nuisance at no cost to the public,” the newsletter suggests.
The FFA calls into question the method for counting the badgers before the cull in the two cull zones. “An exact count of badgers, even in one extensive sett, would seem to be a tall order,” it concludes.
The future of badger culling is likely to come to a head over the coming days, in the wake of the two-day NFU conference which closes this afternoon in Birmingham.
The FFA says: “There must be a serious attempt to stop the relentless march of Mycobacterium bovis across Britain for everybody’s sake – cattle, farmers, badgers, hedgehogs, ground nesting birds, hares, frogs and wild bees. There is a report that the Labour Party’s attitude in parliament has softened and their spokesman has said they could accept the culling of sick badgers if science showed it was necessary. Defra is gradually leaking more information about other domestic animals which have been infected with bTB.”