Here's the latest from VIVA! (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals) regarding the culling of badgers in the UK:-
'In light of the recent scandal of farmers committing fraud to keep high milking cows even though they have tested positive for TB (by swapping ear tags with other cows), we have written to the Government insisting that they must drop any notion of killing badgers. Once again, even more proof that the spread of TB in cattle lies with bad farming practices - and not wildlife.
The true extent of this problem - and its role in spreading TB - is difficult to fathom, but it is likely to have been highly significant.
The Government in England is due to make a decision on 'culling' after the local elections in May. We hope that this latest scandal will make them see sense and abandon this disastrous, baseless and cruel policy.
Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
5 April 2011
Dear Mr Paice
I was very concerned – as I understand that you were also – to discover that fraud has been revealed, showing that some farmers have been illegally swapping cattle eartags in order to retain highly productive TB reactors.
This is obviously deeply troubling, as it has undoubtedly meant that TB has been spread via this method – as these animals have been left to infect the rest of the herd and were (as I’m sure may have happened) then traded at market. The scale of this problem in spreading TB across the UK is perhaps incalculable, but is almost certain to be significant.
I understand that the issue was uncovered by Trading Standards in Gloucestershire, and that now other areas are now under investigation. Can you tell me what the results of these investigations have been?
Of further concern is the large increase in the scale of live movements across the UK. Data from the Rural Payments Agency has shown that despite several highly-contagious diseases among UK cattle, over 13 million cattle movements take place every year. Closely mirroring the historical rise in bTB cases is the rise in cattle movements, with 480,294 more cattle moved in 2010 than 2009. Cattle movements have more than quadrupled between 1999 (3,373,646) and 2010 (13,690,294) and have involved around 164 million animals.
And, as you know, rates of TB infection are actually falling in England and Wales, with 31,679 cattle across Britain slaughtered because of the disease in 2010, while around 40,000 were killed in 2008.
In light of this, whilst it is clear that some anti-TB methods are working (without killing wildlife), a lot more can be done to improve biosecurity systems. Therefore, I
forcefully suggest that any ‘culling’ of badgers must now come off the agenda, as these new issues will almost certainly help form a strong legal argument against any ‘cull’ in England.
I look forward to hearing back from you.