Kate on Conservation

Culling Complications

badger attack

Starting my final year of university has been hard work. Now in week 6, I’m beginning to wonder just where my time back at Hertfordshire is disappearing to, and I’m certainly missing my exchange university in Australia.

Whilst the change in wildlife is obvious (Britain’s countrysides aren’t exactly as ‘wild’ as the bush and scrubland of Shamwari, or as unique as the marsupial-inhabited outbacks of Australia), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have as many animal and conservation related ‘issues’ as elsewhere though. In fact, our reoccurring conservation debates nearly always involve culling.

This isn’t because us Brits are blood-thristy, although one could easily come to that conclusion when looking back over the history of fox-hunting with dogs (which has been banned since 2004, and enforced from 2005). But no, this time around the culling in question is to reduce the number of cases of bovine TB. The animals deemed responsible for the rise? Badgers.

The badger cull currently in question was due to take place this winter, but was postponed until next June because the number of badgers ‘needed’ to be killed is much higher than originally estimated. This is because the early figures on the population number of badgers are shown to have greatly underestimated the number of the species.

Badgers are an important part of the Eco-system here, but numbers have grown to up to 81 badgers in a 100 ha area in some parts of the UK, and in correlation, the number of bovine TB cases had risen to 3,741 new cases in 2011.

I must admit that, due largely to their nocturnal nature I expect, I have never seen a badger in the wild myself. Those against the cull say that badgers are being made an easy scapegoat for disease in livestock.

I am intrigued as to whether all subspecies of badgers carry the diseases and how it affects the local Eco-systems in other areas. I wonder if there is a more humane alternative than to cull? I’d like to know your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Culling Complications

    1. It’s an interesting one, as the science doesn’t truly match the claims being made by cattle owners, which creates a bit of a political battlefield here in the UK. Farmers blame badgers, animal rights groups blame the farmers’ management of livestock (it would seem there is much evidence for bovine to bovine spread, rather than badger to bovine).

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