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🦡 Chris Skidmore, Why won't you back our badgers?

Dear Chris Skidmore MP,

I wrote to you back on January 26th this year to ask you to support an end to badger culling in the UK. I did not receive a reply, presumably because the government was busy pretending it wouldn't continue culling in order to avoid criticism, but now it has become clear that the government will press forward with the killing of tens of thousands of badgers this Autumn: The Guardian

Britain's variety of iconic wildlife is one of our biggest assets and we should not so willingly destroy our natural fauna in the name of agriculture. In any case, there are other measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of bovine TB such as improved farm security and vaccination programs.

Many of the Badgers killed during the culling program have never been tested for TB, those who have are frequently found to be clear of the disease (in 2016 only 4% of 994 culled badgers were found to be carrying the infection).

Public opinion is also on the side of the badgers. Several polls from different polling companies have shown that the public tend to oppose the badger cull: BBC News & YouGov

Please use your position in government to call a halt to the badger cull and consider other means of decreasing the spread of bovine TB.

Regards,

Dan Johnston




Chris' Reply

Dear Dan,

Thank you for contacting me about this very important issue.

The UK’s bovine TB eradication strategy is founded in science. It applies the lessons of previous attempts to control the disease, as well as evidence from other countries around the world. This strategy includes a policy of regular testing and removal of infected cattle from herds, as well as tougher restrictions on cattle movements from herds at risk of infection and measures to encourage greater risk management in areas where the disease is rife.

The badger cull has led to a significant reduction in the disease, but no one wants to continue the cull of this protected species indefinitely. That is why the Government asked Sir Charles Godfray to conduct a review, which concluded in October 2018. Earlier this year, in response to that review, the Government set out its intended next steps, focussed around three key priorities.

The current BCG vaccine will never provide full protection, so I am pleased that funding will be made available to accelerate the research and trial work needed with the aim of having a deployable vaccine in the next five years. Alongside this, an exit strategy from the intensive culling of badgers will begin. As soon as possible, a pilot Government-funded badger vaccination will be introduced in at least one area where the four-year cull cycle has concluded, with simultaneous surveillance of disease. The aim is to only allow future culls where the evidence points to a significant reservoir of Bovine TB in badgers.

Finally, the Government will invest in the deployment of better, more frequent and more diverse cattle testing so that we are able to detect the presence of the disease earlier and remove it from cattle herds faster. I am pleased that world-leading bovine TB cattle vaccination trials are also set to get underway in England and Wales as a result of a major breakthrough by Government scientists. These trials enable work to accelerate towards planned deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025, in the latest milestone to eradicate this highly damaging animal disease.

Ministers hope that any remaining areas who join the current cull programme in the next few years will then wind down by the mid to late 2020s. Of course, tere is no single answer to tackling the scourge of bTB but by deploying a range of policy interventions, we can turn the tide on this terrible disease.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

With very best wishes,

Chris




Conclusion

Chris supports culling badgers & provides no adequate response to the specific points raised in my letter about the levels of TB found in culled badgers, or public opinion on the matter.