Here in Britain some cattle (Bos primigenius) get bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and we want rid. Wild badgers (Meles meles) can get bTB. Some people think badgers spread the infection (Mycobacterium bovis) to cattle. Others think that we shouldn’t obsess about badgers because the real problem is cattle being moved around the country too much, giving bTB to each other.
You might choose to follow my tags ‘tuberculosis’ and ‘badger’ for other posts on this. You also might choose to read Helen Briggs’ Q&A about the badger cull. I recommend Ms Briggs’ article, enacting what Auntie Beeb (the BBC, where she works) stands for. Fair and accurate reporting.
Here on Science on the Land, I wrote that the guns would be out last night (26th August 2013). Today, we hear that it didn’t happen. Yet.
Auntie Beeb tells us that police have been deployed to keep order but they’re not out in the fields and lanes. Yet. In blissful ignorance, badgers continue musteline lives while cattle continue under threat of bTB. I’ll keep updating when I see news.
[Edit] A few hours later, Auntie Beeb says that the National Farmers Union (NFU) says that the cull is underway. ‘The cull will involve marksmen with high-velocity rifles using a mixture of controlled shooting and free shooting, with some badgers being trapped in cages first.’ Peter Kendall, President of the NFU, released this letter today.
I’m not sure whether this means the shooters have started work, or just that the NFU is pro-cull as we already knew. Badgers aren’t often seen in daylight and as I write this, it’s still daylight. None of the shooters I know would be shooting so early in the evening. I suppose they might be on their way to the sites right now. Or maybe not.
Anyway if you scroll down this Beeb article, you’ll see a map about badgers in Britain. You’ll also see a summary of pro-cull and anti-cull opinions.
You know by now that I’ve become anti-cull while writing this blog. Because the science says that culling badgers won’t control bTB. It might even make the problem worse.
The new rules about cattle movements (scroll down my post there for detail) might help. But perhaps those rules have less emotional appeal to those who like guns. And those rules won’t come into force until October, and they’ll cost farmers money.