Campaigners come out in protest over Staffordshire badger cull

Members of the Staffordshire Wounded Badger Patrol outside County Buildings in Stafford today

The Staffordshire Wounded Badger Patrol are staging a demonstration against the badger cull today.

A spokesperson for the campaign group says that the protest outside the Staffordshire County Council buildings in Stafford will be a "strictly peaceful protest"

They told Signal News: “Thousands of badgers have already been culled across Staffordshire during the first two years of the government’s badger cull here, with thousands more due to be slaughtered this coming Autumn.

"Almost 4,000 badgers were shot in the Staffordshire cull zone in 2018, and we’re currently waiting on the delayed 2019 figures from the government.

They say that the badger cull is unscientific, inhumane and ineffective, and that it won’t eradicate bovine TB.

The group also say that Staffordshire’s farmers are being "sold short" if they’re being told otherwise.

The spokesperson said: "We call on the national government to stop this senseless and deeply unpopular slaughter of one of our most iconic native wild animals, and we call on Staffordshire’s county councillors to do the right thing and to promote better herd management, improved biosecurity and badger vaccination instead of culling.

"Badger vaccination is free to farmers and landowners, supported by Defra – there’s absolutely no justification for killing badgers.

"In 2018 and 2019, entire clans of badgers have been wiped out all across Staffordshire.

"These amazing animals survived the Ice Age in this part of the country, but they may well not survive year after year of this senseless cull.

"We invite concerned members of the public to join us on our peaceful protest this Thursday standing in solidarity with the badgers of Staffordshire.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU), which represents thousands of farmers across Britain, has said that TB control is about "a package of measures to get on top of this disease not one single measure", and have defended the use of the cull as part of the strategy to tackle bovine TB.

NFU spokesman Oliver Cartwright said: “Bovine TB remains one of the biggest threats to Staffordshire beef and dairy herds and it is crucial that the Government pursues all controls it can to eradicate it.

“The NFU has always supported an approach to tackling this devastating disease which includes strengthening cattle movements, vaccination measures where appropriate, bio-security and controlling the disease in wildlife.

“The Chief Vet has said that taking action to prevent the reservoir of disease in local badger populations infecting cattle with bTB is an essential part of the Government’s 25-year strategy.

“The Downs report, released last year, is significant as it is peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of badger culling in reducing the outbreaks of TB in cattle.

“Controlling the disease in wildlife, therefore, in areas where it is rife, is an absolutely vital part of any package of measures if we are to successfully get on top of this disease and stop reinfection occurring.”

Badgers may not have been on the official agenda but opposition to an annual cull in Staffordshire was the first issue for Staffordshire county councillors to contend with on their way to their latest meeting.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, speaking after the demonstration, said: “Badger culling to manage bovine TB is a complex issue.

“Staffordshire County Council fully understands the distress and financial loss faced by farmers with bovine TB breakdowns in their herds. Equally we understand public concerns over the welfare of badgers and our responsibilities in relation to them as a protected species.

“The council has no formal policy position on the badger cull as this is a nationally determined policy.”

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