You might know that Carrie Symonds is a wildlife campaigner and animal advocate. She is the fiancée of Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prime Minister. She is, therefore, at the heart of the British government and it is great for animal advocates to have her in that situation.
She successfully persuaded Boris Johnson to intervene in the culling of badgers in the county of Derbyshire. Carrie Symonds was in fact lobbied by Dominic Dyer, the chief executive of the Badger Trust in Downing Street on August 14 last year.
It is known that the Prime Minister intervened in this matter because it was revealed in a High Court challenge brought by the National Farmers’ Union. They claimed that the government’s refusal to grant Derbyshire’s farmers a licence to cull was unlawful. They lost that case because the judge decided that politicians had the right to make such a decision.
In short, Carrie Symonds got a result by protecting the badgers in Derbyshire. The county has the biggest programme of vaccinating badgers against TB as an alternative to culling them.
The decision to save Derbyshire’s badgers has been overturned as disclosed in a leaked document obtained by The Times. It shows that Natural England is preparing to authorise the culling in up to 10 new areas including in Derbyshire. My reading of the situation is that the culling of badgers is going to be expanded significantly and about 50,000 will be shot in 2020 in more than 50 areas in the UK.
Mr Dyer said that by the end of 2020 badger culling would have resulted in the death of over 170,000 badgers since 2013. In addition, he says that even if all the badgers are killed bovine TB will still be in cattle because of defects in TB testing, poor biosecurity controls and cattle movement. Defra declined to comment except to add that more than 30,000 cattle are slaughtered each year because of the TB infection.
Comment: I have to add one last point. The culling is carried out by shooting badgers. This must cause a significant amount of pain in the vast majority of these badgers. You cannot argue that one shot can kill a badger without any feeling of pain as if the animal is being euthanised by a veterinarian. In fact I have read that the shooters often fail to kill targeted badgers. How many are wounded? In short, they are not being killed humanely. If they are not being killed humanely the practice is cruel and therefore the government is endorsing animal cruelty in my view. That may seem like an extreme viewpoint but on a simple analysis it appears to be correct.