England’s badger cull has caused a lot of controversy. Activists are on hand to capture and rescue wounded badgers. The protesters set up camp and spent the night in the region. However, they have not seen or heard any hunters.
The badger cull stems from increased incidence of bovine tuberculosis. In 2012, close to 37,000 head of cattle were lost to the disease. The cattle likely contracted the disease when bitten by wild badgers.
As reported by The Guardian, the government had to compensate farmers over $155 million for the livestock.
The government planned the badger cull in an attempt to rid the area of the dangerous pests. The goal is to eliminated up to 5,000 badgers. There are an estimated 300,000 badgers in England alone.
As reported by National Geographic, trained marksmen will have six weeks to complete the culling. The culling began Tuesday night, amidst strong protest by activists.
The cull is being conducted at night, as badgers are nocturnal. The marksmen have set traps and will shoot any badgers that are spotted walking around.
The protesters contend that the cull is inhumane and ineffective.
A group of leading UK scientists agree with the protesters. They cite a culling trial that took place from 1997 to 2007. The group, led by Lord Krebs, concluded that culls are “mindless… too small and too short-term to measure the impacts of licensed culling on cattle TB…”
Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs chief scientist, Ian Boyd disagrees. Boyd points to culling trials in Australia and New Zealand. He estimates the badger cull will reduce bovine TB by 16 percent.
The exact location of the badger cull has not been disclosed. However, cull regulator Natural England has stated that the Forest of Dean, Tewkesbury, Wychavon, Malcern Hills, and parts of Herefordshire will be included.
Protesters continue their vigil. As reported by The Guardian, they have not seen any activity since the cull officially began. Protester “Mister Fox” explains:
“Eight of us went out last night… no bodies, no sounds of hunters, no signs of their traps… no people… there’s no activity. We are pretty certain that farmers have been going out before the cull and gassing badgers, but there’s no evidence.”
As the badger continues it will certainly remain controversial. However, activists have not reported any evidence of dead or injured badgers.
[Image via Wikimedia]