The Government announced plans in early September to extend the Badger Cull into new areas of England, despite committing in March to phase out culling in favour of vaccinating both badgers and cattle against bovine tuberculosis. This extension included Oxfordshire, where badgers have never been culled under government license before.
The Labour Group on Cherwell District Council have written an open letter to the Environment Secretary urging him to reconsider how TB control funding is invested in Oxfordshire.
To the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Rt. Hon. George Eustice MP,
I write on behalf of the Labour group on Cherwell District Council to express our unanimous opposition to the extension of badger culling into Oxfordshire.
As representatives in this rural district, we understand the damage caused to cattle herds and thereby livelihoods through the uncontrolled spread of Bovine TB. Doing nothing is not an option either.
But the cull is expensive, ineffective and cruel compared to humane alternatives like vaccination.
Expensive because with administration and policing taken into account, the cull is estimated to have cost taxpayers £70m by the end of the year. By contrast government investment in vaccination has been minimal.
Ineffective because not only are some badgers being vaccinated and then shot. But there is also no conclusive evidence that culling is having an impact on the spread of Bovine TB, especially as badgers are not the only carriers of the disease.
Cruel because free shooting in particular, often leaves badgers seriously injured and in profound agony for long periods prior to their demise.
As such, while local Conservative Councillors have failed, we want to represent the broad range of voices in Cherwell who oppose in the strongest possible terms the extension of badger culling into our area. This we have done with colleagues across Oxfordshire at district, city and county levels of local government.
The lack of consultation with stakeholders such as parish and district councils is also a significant concern of ours.
We request that the extension of the badger cull in Cherwell is urgently reviewed, to include local consultation, with a view to replacing it with a comprehensive vaccination programme. Please confirm receipt of this email and, at the earliest possible opportunity, outline the timeline for this review.
I look forward to your response.
Councillor Sean Woodcock
Leader of the Labour group on Cherwell District Council