The UK Labour Party, which according to the polls could well be the next party in power from next year’s national elections, has vowed to end the infamous badger cull in England if elected. Since 2013, badgers have been culled in the thousands every year in England in an attempt to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cows, because they can also be infected by this bacteria disease introduced to the British countryside by the animal agriculture industry. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has reported that more than 210,000 badgers have been killed since the cull began, despite the opposition of animal protection organisations and many scientists.
In Wales, there is no cull, and the government there has focused on vaccination for badgers and enhanced biosecurity measures in farms, which has reduced bTB levels effectively without culling.
Daniel Zeichner, the shadow farming minister of the Labour party, said to the Guadian: “I’ve spent a long time looking at this. The 2018 Godfrey review, the last piece of work done by the government, found that badger culling is not the answer. We’re going to make England bovine TB free by 2038, but with a range of measures that do not include culling.” The current environment secretary, the conservative Thérèse Coffey, said her department would continue the cull. She recently said: “But I’ve been very clear in England. I’m not going to be held by some artificial deadline that has already been put in place. We will keep culling for as long as it is the best way to do that.”
Dr Mark Jones, the head of policy at the Born Free Foundation, said about the decline in the disease, “The government would have you believe that badger culling has played a major part in this decline and is placing a great deal of emphasis on an as yet unreviewed study it has commissioned that relies heavily on complex modelling and comes with many caveats. However, bovine TB has been declining in England since before badger culling began.”