Saturday, 1 June 2013

The badger cull - the lesser of two evils (and what protesters are ignoring)

Well once again we are flocked by celebrities jumping on the band wagons of eco-protesting. The badger cull is the newest designer campaign this summer, and has seen two of my personal favourite celebrities of all time joining in - Dame Judi Drench, and Brian May.

Badgers sadly carry TB which is a nasty disease responsible for 20-40% of natural loss in cattle due to disease - costing hundreds of millions of lost profits to farmers across the country. The disease also has the potential of spreading to humans, although due to strict controls and sanitation of live-stock with the numbers of cases reporting in humans increasing steadily.

I am not a fan of the need to kill animals senselessly; I love animals, and as someone who regularly enjoys natural surrounding - living in a small town surrounded by country parks, burns and vast hill landscapes - it brings me no great pleasure in siding with the government when I say that the cull is the lesser of two evils.

 I am not one to list my opinions in separate sections, however for this article I am going to break with tradition as it is needed to convey the separate reasons for my support of the government's decision.

So, here we go...

5. The Government has already attempted vaccination, and it failed to be effective

In 2009, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) attempted to vaccinate badgers in England and Wales however the process of capturing badgers across 150sqkm of rural wild lands proved to be ineffective in preventing the spread of the disease. The vaccinate was effective only on those badgers who were not infected prior to capture. 

The vaccination proved to be so ineffective and so expensive that the benefits of attempts to vaccinate were outweighed by lack of results.

Under European Commerce Law, cattle cannot be vaccinated against TB due to the regulations and standards of transferable produce. This isn't a law we created, and farmers need to follow in-order for much of their produce to be sold in Europe. It's not a law that was created by our government; it serves a purpose of disease control and isolating stock from circulation that may put to threat the entire beef markets of Europe. 

Imagine how difficult it is to vaccinate the human race against disease -- we are far more controllable than animals; many of us willingly choose to be vaccinated, yet disease still spreads due to those who do not. Multiple that problem on a much grander scale and you have the badger situation: if 1/20 badgers were vaccinated, that would leave 19 potential carriers for the disease roaming around with potential to infect cattle. 

The alternatives to the cull were tried, tested and mothballed because they simply failed to be any use. 

4. Badgers aren't endangered and have very few natural predators

Badger populations have skyrocketed post the 1992 protection act; the ban on badger baiting, hunting and killing has resulting in their numbers to burst. Badgers have an abundant source of food which is primarily Earth worms and small insects, none of which are in short supply in the UK.

Many see the cull as endangering the badger population of the UK. It must be pointed out that the entirety of the culling will be controlled and monitored. Many have an image of farmers being granted the ability to declare Jihad on their black and white furry rivals but it simply isn't the case. 

DEFRA has placed strict regulations on who can and cannot be pro-active in the culling process; they are not wishing to kill of the species, rather they are reducing the total population in specific areas where cattle farms are dense in small areas. 

To put it lightly, the information being handed out of cute and fluffy animals with bullet holes in their face is misleading. 

Badgers run the risk in England of overpopulation - their natural predators are dying out; foxes, birds of prey and more aggressive mammals are seeing their numbers plummet with the result imposing more territorial themed escalation of badger on badger violence.  

3. The celebrities have done nothing for the hundreds of other endangered species 

That's a lot of animals!

It's a cheap shot but where are these animals and their supporters? I understand that the GROUPS (such as the RSPCA and Wildlife Conservation Society) are involved in amazing work to preserve the populations of many endangered species, however where are the celebrities?

Well, the simple fact is, and I tell you this from experience of campaign trails, celebrities will only join a cause if it is beneficial to their public image. Let's be harsh - when was the most recent genuinely profound appearance of these celebrities that was not in a campaign leaflet? Brian May had the Olympics. That's it. 

Many people are idiots and will instantly feel disgust in the killing of this: 

Source: Dailyshame

As opposed to this:

File:Formica exsecta casent0173161 profile 1.jpg
Source: Wikiedia
The latter is substantially more important to our ecosystem than the former but has a distinct lack of any cuteness. I some of the eco-warriors reading this have killed ants (or insects as a rule of thumb) in the past. Well done eco-warriors, you're killed the most important biological aspect of our ecosystem. 

2. The badgers will have a quicker death than in the wild

Nature's sort of a dick. Outside of human and domestic animal lifestyles, you are tossed into a war zone where ever single day is an uphill effort to stay alive, find enough food and pass on your genes. 

Now what's worse - a badger being shot in the head or a fox ripping it limb from limb while it's still alive?

I'm going to get the argument that there is a natural way of life and death, and that what we do isn't part of it. Guess what, we're natural - we are animals - and everything we create is natural. We create tools, which is natural to many animals, the only difference is that we have made them increasingly more sophisticated. 

Be happy for the badger: it's being finished off quickly. Rarely in nature do animals reach older ages. 

1. TB is driving up food prices

As stated, TB is costing the farming industry hundreds of millions of profit a year. Think for a moment what that must do to the average price of a side of beef. 

I break the standard accepted morals when I say very clearly that killing an insignificant number of badgers will lose me no sleep if it reduces the cost of living in this country. My species comes first; my people come first. Disease and lost livestock is estimated by DEFRA to add 15% to shelf price of beef; not all of that is to blame on TB, there are other factors although when you compare those to the crashing effects of TB, then frankly I support the cull. 

I can envision the hate I will get for showing these points but...I don't really care if I'm being honest. The badger cull protests are a fad, a pointless moral distraction for those who like cute fluffy animals. 

Here's an idea for those people - how about instead of trying to protect a species that wont be endangered by this cull, you concentrate on the millions of people who die every week due to hunger? Or perhaps those celebrities could fight against the culling of people in this country brought on by austerity?

So have your fad and shove it.

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