Will publicly unpopular wildlife culls affect the farming and other business sectors?
5 Sep 2010, 4:36 PM
I am very worried that the farmer will be ultimately blamed for culling of wildlife - particularly if it causes massive losses of indigenous species from many areas and the bovine TB situation does not improve. Following years of campaigning to encourage people to eat local food, are we going to see boycotts? Back in 2007 Badgerwatch Ireland and the UK's Badger Trust, in a recent joint report (www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/badger-culling.html#cr), called for consumers to boycott Irish dairy and beef products and even avoid Southern Ireland as a holiday destination. They claimed the culling would lead to the 'virtual extermination of badgers in the Republic of Ireland, with up to 6,000 snares set every night'. They said the culling fails to control bTB levels.
Moving to Scotland, I see that on 16 June 2010 (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2010/06/16110712), the Scottish Government publicised its report: 'The Economic Impact of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland' which revealed that wildlife tourism annually brings in a net economic impact of £65 million to Scotland's economy and creates the equivalent of 2,760 full time jobs. Wildlife tourism is popular in other areas of the UK too so let's hope the powers that be take into account all the indirect consequences of future action regarding bovine TB. If we were prepared to live with bovine TB, instead of striving for eradication (probably an impossible task anyway) and control it via the introduction of a planned vaccination programme for cattle, surely it would not be necessary to interfere with any wildlife?
21 Apr 2013, 2:27 PM
Farmers in the proposed trial cull areas have incurred the wrath of those opposing the cull. There are some who are determined to try and stop the cull by any legal means. Some are now targeting farming businesses (https://badgercullsquatters.wordpress.com/) - keeping a careful check on farmers in the two areas involved and reporting any violations of any kind. Those involved aim to legally make the cost of the cull economically unviable through protest, health and safety inspections, squats, boycotts, awareness raising, campaigning etc. They apparently have their own 'crack team of health and safety ninjas' on the ground, day and night, making sure the farmers are keeping it legal.
They are also checking out tax discs on arming vehicles.
16 Sep 2011, 6:29 PM
According to the farming press (www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/16/09/2011/129047/Protestors-step-up-fight-to-halt-badger-cull.htm and www.farming.co.uk/articles/view/5110) a massive 65,000 signatures have been raised by 27 online petitions ahead of the deadline (20/9/11) for Defra's consultation exercise regarding the shooting of badgers in England.
16 Sep 2011, 1:52 PM
Consultation response from bovinetb.co.uk
CONSULTATION ON GUIDANCE TO NATURAL ENGLAND ON THE IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF A BADGER CONTROL POLICY
a) Do you agree that the basic culling policy requirements set out in paragraphs 9a-9f and paragraph 10 of the draft guidance form the basis of an “effective cull”?
NO - see replies given below.
b) Paragraph 9 of the draft guidance requires applicants to take reasonable measures to mitigate the potential risk to non –participants. Do you agree that the mitigation methods proposed in the draft guidance to applicants at Annex H are appropriate and adequate?
NO – the public opposition to this proposal is such that no amount of measures will alleviate risk, particularly as powerful guns are involved. There are likely to be conflicts because many do not see that culling is backed up properly by science. In fact these latest proposals are even contrary to previous trials, particularly regarding the perturbation issue. Most land is likely to be close to public rights of way and so the potential risks to the public are not acceptable. It would be interesting to hear what the Ramblers Association and other public groups that encourage countryside access think. The Ramblers even encourage their members to walk at night (moonlight walks).
c) Are the requirements at paragraphs 9h and 9i of the draft guidance for all participants to enter into a TB Management Agreement (under section7 of the NERC Act)and deposit the total cost of the funds upfront proportionate and appropriate to ensure that the culling will be delivered effectively?
NO - culling is not cost effective and it is not known if it will work and be a long-term solution. In fact previous experience indicates that it probably will not.
d) Are the measures included at paragraph 11 of the draft guidance, in addition to the proposed monitoring described above (at paragraphs 42-43), adequate and appropriate for ensuring that controlled shooting is carried out safely and humanely?
NO - see replies given below.
e) Do you consider that the measures at paragraph 12 of the draft guidance and the proposed monitoring described above (at paragraph 41), are appropriate to address concerns about the impact on the badger population?
NO – the aim is to kill as many badgers from an area as possible – most of these will be healthy badgers. The badger may not be under threat at the moment in the UK (although we understand numbers have fallen as a result of the previous two hard winters) but if they are removed from large areas what about the future for this indigenous species, particularly as farmers may be keen to keep badgers off their land and there is likely to be continued widespread illegal persecution of the species. This is a cattle issue and so should not involve the elimination of other species, particularly as bTB is not even a significant pubic health issue.
f) Do you agree that the measures included at paragraphs 11a-c,23 and 27-28 of the draft guidance are sufficient to mitigate the risks to the safety and security of those carrying out a cull and to the general public?
NO - see also reply at b) above.
g) Do you have any other comments on the draft guidance to Natural England?
We believe the badger is the scapegoat in a policy that desperately needs looking at again from more appropriate angles. Culling badgers is not even cost effective. The real risks of bovine TB need to be assessed as currently it is based purely on an unreliable test that kills many cattle needlessly just because they may have been exposed to the Mycobacterium that can cause bTB.
A proper vaccination programme for cattle should be available, based on the existing BCG vaccine due to be licenced for cattle next year. Derogation should be sought from the EU to enable this to proceed without further delays.
The slaughter of thousands of healthy cattle is unacceptable but at least they are tested and so have a chance. The culling proposal will kill mostly perfectly healthy badgers will not go down at all well with the public – there was overwhelming opposition to culling from last year’s consultation, which you have totally ignored. Farmers are already being blamed and it could be a public relations disaster for the farming industry.
14 Sep 2011, 6:36 PM
Does the article in This is Devon 14/9/11 (http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Derek-Mead-Government-plans-badger-cull-hopeless/story-13327323-detail/story.html) sum up the situation re the England badger cull proposals?
' What I am concerned about is that he (Peter Kendall) is going along with a plan which is likely, if it gets off the ground at all, to see the slaughter of thousands of perfectly healthy badgers, rather than the targeted removal of all the diseased ones. The collateral damage among the healthy badger population is not going to go down at all well with the public. In fact I forecast that it will turn farmers the length and breadth of the country into high-profile villains in the eyes of millions of consumers – and no-one should underestimate the ability of the pro-badger groups to make capital out of what is fundamentally an indefensible operation.
Farmers' reputations will be severely downgraded; the bridges we have built with the public over the last few years damaged. And that damage will take years to put right.'
21 Aug 2011, 5:34 PM
Becky... what are you thinking of, "mixed antibiotics" to be fed to the badgers!!! There lies the route to that very scary organism MULTIPLE DRUG RESISTANT TB.
21 Aug 2011, 5:08 PM
As areas of infected badgers in Wales has increased it may now be impossible to control by culling, but badgers are a common species and some culling should not be built up as such a big issue. If you are a farmer with a sett of badgers, where infection is suspected, living in close proximity to your housed dairy cattle common sense would suggest that you get rid of them. Culling need not be excessively expensive. Badgers are attractive and interesting animals, but the level of protection they now have prevents farmers making reasonable decisions with regard to the health of their animals and the quality of the food they produce.
18 Aug 2011, 7:26 PM
What is bovine TB? Why are we set to cull huge numbers of badgers to deal with it? Why can't we use a bovine tb vaccine? Cattle farmer and permaculturist Tim Green answers some of these questions - and poses more - in an excellent and very thought provoking article at
His organisation is pressing the government to initiate a comprehensive population analysis for badgers in England.. Apparently there hasn't been a survey since the 1990s meaning we simply don't know how many badgers there are in the UK. Population estimates of around 300,000 nationally are based on surveys carried out more than a decade ago. Jones' said: "We do know that around 50,000 are killed annually on our roads. With DEFRA calculating that around 40,000 badgers might be shot each year as part of their strategy that could be nearly a third of Britain's entire population wiped out either by bullet or bumper. We simply don't know whether some local badger populations can withstand those sorts of losses. A comprehensive, science-based survey of badger populations across the country must be a prerequisite to any consideration of lethal badger control'.
8 Aug 2011, 1:23 PM
Interesting post on Warmwell (http://warmwell.com/jan11ruth.html) 8/8/11 is response from Dr Colin G Fink, Clinical Virologist & Hon. Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences University of Warwick who discusses the immunity issue. He confirms that 'any mammal that comes into contact with Mycobacterium bovis, and remains well, will develop antibodies and a white cell memory for the bacterium which may cause no clinical disease, but become walled up within the animal's tissues. Probably some animals (camelids and occasional cattle in a herd come to mind) have a poor ability to develop any host response to this organism and they may become overwhelmimgly infected with many lesions and then die. They represent a serious infection risk in this state but may remain undiscovered until late on in the disease process. For most animals this is not the normal course of events and they resist the organism and remain well.'
He goes on to say the same applies to man and meeting Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Later on in life or under stress,( for example perturbation of badger social groups by culling) they may have a recrudecence of this infection and become clinically infected and excretors of the organisms.
Most cattle that are skin test positive have been exposed to the organism but remain healthy. However, they are culled as a precaution.
He goes on to discuss badgers and ends by saying that 'At present there is no ideal solution. I am of the opinion that feeding and including trace elements to the badgers ( and other herbivore/omnivore wild life reservoirs) along with hormones to limit reproduction, may be a useful experiment to undertake. I have previously suggested mixed antibiotics in the feed. Maybe this is a way forward and worth a serious trial?'
6 Aug 2011, 5:28 PM
Some farmers believe they are above the law. A Radio 4 programme broadcast on 5/8/11 on bovine tb and badgers (The Report) said they had 'found some farmers are taking draconian action, killing badgers illegally'.
The programme contained an interview with a Devon farmer, who the BBC declined to name, in the vicinity of an inactive badger sett. It began with the reporter stating "It's one of dozens of setts where he says the animals have been killed."
The farmer described the killing technique - "You have an old petrol engine. You put a pipe down the hole there. You have the engine running. Once all the holes are completely blocked up, you run the engine and that puts the badger to sleep underground....." and more. The farmer said he was present when it was done but "I actually didn't take part in it".
His claims it was a 'sick sett', and that 'the whole family group is put to sleep humanely'. He said farmers are being driven to take this action through lack of action and lack of help from governments - does this excuse such illegal activity?
According to the BBC a statement from the Farmer's Association said:
“Farmers are law abiding citizens but at this point in time through lack of action and lack of help from governments, they are being driven to take this action. We don’t want to do it but its survival.”
It is from the blog of Jim Dixon, Chief Executive of the Peak District National Parks.
30 Jul 2011, 2:14 PM
According to the Independent on 29/07/11 (www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/majority-objected-to-badger-cull-before-policy-was-approved-2327913.html) there was overwhelming public opposition (69%) to the proposal to cull badgers. There were nearly 60,000 responses! Included was a submission from the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB, which completed a random badger-culling trial in 2007. It challenged Defra's claim that a 16% reduction in bovine TB could be achieved over nine years through farm-based culling of badgers.
Sixty-one per cent opposed culling, but said they would consider vaccination of the badger population; 8 per cent said they wanted neither of the options, while just under one-third of respondents were in favour of both vaccination and shooting.
What is somewhat disturbing is that this evidence was apparently withheld until the Government had made its decision to go ahead with its controversial plans to allow badgers to be shot.
The Independent said, 'The consultation, which was completed in December 2010, was eventually – and discreetly – published on a Government website on the day of the much-anticipated statement following a request under the Freedom of Information Act from the Humane Society International (HSI).'
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) apparently insisted it was 'entirely normal' to publish consultation responses at the same time as policy proposals.
Culling could begin in the West and South-west of England as early as next Spring. A legal challenge may be launched by groups opposed to the plans.
25 Jul 2011, 1:29 PM
Those of you who are interested in the cost benefit analysis for the current 'Bovine TB and Badger Control' proposals to issue licenses for culling/vaccination of badgers in selected area visit:
The PDF of Annex C, published July 2011, aims to assess impact. It includes brief statements re intervention and options plus a summary of analysis and evidence.
Contact for any enquiries is firstname.lastname@example.org
24 Jul 2011, 2:05 PM
Interesting summary by Douglas on 22 July, 2011
That famous phrase about the devil being in the detail was never more apt than in using it to describe what the government propose in relation to bovine TB control and badger culling.
On the public face of it the government is proposing to license the culling of badgers as a way of helping to get control of the level of TB infection in cattle. In fact what has actually been proposed is a trial of badger culling in carefully selected areas to see whether badger culling by farmers’ appointed agents does actually work and can deliver humanely the required results.
Alongside the trials the government is increasing its spending on badger and cattle vaccine development and investment in cattle testing. It is proposing to invest in badger vaccination trials and to grant aid to those who want to vaccinate rather than cull. The government has put out to consultation the proposed conditions for licensing culls and for the proposed trials and there are 28 days from the publication date in which to respond, not to the cull itself, but to the proposed licensing and trial methodology.
When the farming community - which is hell bent on culling - get its hands on the devilish detail, they are not going to be proverbial happy bunnies. Not only are they going to have to publicly apply for licenses, they are also going to have to put their own money up front to cover the cost of a four year program plus contingencies which will allow the government to employ contractors at their (the farmers) expense if they don’t do the job properly.
The proposals do not allow for just any farmer or contractor to cull and kill. Culling licenses will be restricted to named licensed operators who have passed the approved training course and have the required firearms and shotgun licenses and permissions to enter the properties concerned. Members of the public and others with an interest in, or within two kilometres of a planned culling area, will be able to object to the granting of a culling license and anyone getting such a license will have to take reasonable and proportionate measures to minimise the risks that the properties may face to their own livestock as a result of the culling and the consequent perturbation of badger families in the area.
Licenses will not be granted in circumstances where access to at least 70% of the land in the area cannot be guaranteed by the named owners agreeing to it and applicants are requested to achieve 90% agreement for the cull land area in access terms at the time of application. The same named land owners and applicants are the ones who have to stump up the funding for the four years culling in advance and who will be billed by the Ministry if they have to come in and do the job because the applicants have failed to do so.
Applications to cull will be advertised on the Natural England website and publicised locally and landowners in and proximate to the culling areas will be notified and may object to the granting of any such license in a 28 day period.
Where a land owner in or proximate to a culling site wishes to vaccinate culling must be delayed for at least four weeks while the vaccination is undertaken and the vaccinated animals have time to build up immunity. Any culling will not be allowed close to the boundary of the vaccination area even if it is on the license applicants’ property.
Applicants for licenses will have to detail what measures they propose to take to mitigate any risks to neighbouring and proximate (within 2km) premises, such as fencing, vaccination and bio-security advice to non participants. If the applicants themselves are found not to be taking appropriate bio-security measures to limit cattle to badger contact a licence may be refused, revoked or suspended.
Because the underlying assumption in the culling is that the badgers culled are a biohazard specific rules apply to their disposal after culling. Carcasses must be double bagged and securely stored on the cull site or at another agreed point till collected by an approved disposal contractor. Such vehicles which make the collections cannot go to other farm premises as part of a wider carcass collection and fallen stock run. Post mortem will be carried out on a sample of the culled badgers by independent veterinary surgeons to ascertain that the culling was humanely achieved. If this found not to be the case further culling by free shooting will not be licensed.
Provision is made for the use of a dog on a lead (hunters take note) to search for any wounded badger. To reduce the risk of wounded badgers escaping below ground license holders will not be allowed to shoot so close to badger setts that the badgers can escape below ground before there is a reasonable chance of firing a second shot. So if you go down to the woods in future, what you may find is public safety notices advising you of culling, and predator proof badger bins for the dead badgers to be stored in pending collection.
The single and most glaring omission in the whole elaborate scheme is any detailed information on the level of infection in the badger population. Data was gathered during the trials which ended in 2005 and since then DEFRA has not been collecting information.
The highways agency has not been carrying out post mortem on dead badgers and nor has DEFRA since 2005. The government simply do not know what the CURRENT level of infection in the badger population actually is. Even at the time of the trials infection rates averaged at 16.6% and ranged from 6.3 -37.2%. In other countries levels were also around 6%. Or to put it another way, on average five out of six culled badgers were not infected.
How can it possibly be either reasonable or proportionate to cull badgers to control bovine Tb infection when the government don’t even know what the current infection levels actually are? They are simply assuming on the basis of the previous trials and the current numbers of infections in cattle, that significant numbers of badgers are infected.
At the very least the government should be establishing on the basis of current trials what the levels of infection in proposed culling areas actually are. Furthermore the case for any license to cull should be founded on having established beyond a reasonable doubt that the badgers that it is proposed to cull are more likely than not to be infected and to be involved by TB bacterium type testing in the spread of the disease to cattle in the same area.
As in any court of law, clear evidence of guilt should be established beyond a reasonable doubt, before a sentence of death by license is passed. There will no doubt be furious argument about what the threshold level of infection in a wild animal population should have to be before action is taken, but at anything under 50% (more healthy than unhealthy badgers would be being killed) would seem to me to be unacceptable. On these criteria no cull according to the previous scientific evidence would ever be justified.
In response to the culling proposal, the message is simple, no executions before proof of guilt!
21 Jul 2011, 6:34 PM
Press Release from Badger Trust 21/7/11
Badgers are to be used as target practice. That, says the Badger Trust, is the effect of Caroline Spelman's Commons announcement that she plans to hold two pilot culls in the south west. Nowhere in her Commons statement was there any mention of the culls contributing to a reduction in the incidence of bTB in the pilot areas nor was there any mention of carrying out post mortems to establish whether the badgers are infected. How can it be humane to kill an animal solely to see how long it has taken to die?
Says the Trust: The Minister claims to be seeking a comprehensive and balanced solution. What she is proposing is likely to lead to a fragmented and confusing set of facts. They will bear no relationship to any existing science because the method of killing - shooting free running badgers at night - is untried, untested and its results unpredictable. The normal idea of a pilot trial is to test a proposal to see what the results are. The proposed pilot will simply use badgers as target practice to see if gunmen can shoot them, with no regard to whether they are diseased or healthy.
"The Minister has said that ducking the issue of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is not an option, but what she has done is to submerge the issue in unscientific confusion in a way that is likely to damage the interests of the very farmers she is trying to help. For example, the Minister uses one set of culling figures (obtained by cage trapping badgers) to forecast the results of a completely different method of culling (free shooting). This is not science. It is guesswork. "Sadly, she also continues to place undue emphasis on the claimed reduction that badger culling might make to bTB spread. At best that is estimated to be 16 per cent over nine years. For far too long, too much effort and time has been devoted to badgers and far too little to the main causes of TB spread - ineffective testing, lax controls over cattle movements, and illegal activities. She must shoulder some of the blame for that.
"The Minister also appears to have learnt nothing about the risks associated with perturbation, a behaviour pattern which applies only to badgers. The very best scientific evidence makes it abundantly clear: disturbing stable social groups carries a serious risk of making the spread of bTB even more of a menace, and the shooting method she puts her faith in will surely make perturbation much worse. Her claim that this pilot exercise is science led is not sustainable".
21 Jul 2011, 6:33 PM
Email from AD 21/7/11 I did a calc on the all Wales figures and that showed incidence still declining well - both in no of cattle slaughtered and herd breakdowns.
The detailed Wales figures - which will give us West Wales figs specifically - aren't out yet, but might well be better than all Wales (as they have been for past year).
21 Jul 2011, 6:31 PM
Email from GL dated 21/7/11 The latest UK stats for first four months of this year, (despite their desperation to put a spin on it,) show that 292 more cattle were slaughtered in the UK this year over the same period last year and 3,251 less than in 2009. When you factor in that there were 234,014 extra cattle tested this year than in last year the figures look quite good. Wales will have preformed much better than England but I cannot find seperate Welsh figures. Spelman was incorrect to describe this as a situation out of control.
21 Jul 2011, 6:28 PM
Email dated 21/7/11 from MR Spelman’s did say 70% of badgers on Farming Today – that would need more than 70% of land. Unless she got confused – she was far from fluent in the subject.
I wonder how farmers in the 2 KM outside the pilot culls will feel?
It does not make sense. 70% reduction in total population, using 90% of land.
Unless they can induce the badgers to leave the remaining 10% of the land and come to be shot, they will need to shoot 78% of the population on the 90% of the land. If that was possible I think most mammals would be endangered by now. Try it with foxes – impossible. For one thing they are all too clever and will avoid the scene of recent atrocities.
The following year they do the same – kill 70% of the population. After 4 years the population would approach nil, yet that is specifically what they said they were not trying to do.
21 Jul 2011, 6:27 PM
Email dated 20/7/11 from AD From the 'consultation' document - the requirements are so impractical the only way they could be fulfilled is either by the authorities turning a blind eye, not scrutinising - i.e. allowing them not to be met. Here's a sample below. Incidentally they now say they want to raise the % of land that must be accessible in a cull area to 90% (it was 70% before) - or by the heavy government intervention which is included here below but probably very unlikely to happen with the massive cuts to Defra budgets etc.
From Consultation Document 14. The policy proposal has been developed further in light of the consultation responses and the draft guidance sets out in greater detail (at paragraphs 9-11) how applicants would be expected to deliver an effective cull and demonstrate their capacity to do so. The specific requirements include: • co-ordinating activity across the entire area; • sustaining culling annually for at least four years; • reducing the total badger population in the Control Area by 70% overall during a six-week intensive cull and maintaining this reduction in each subsequent year of culling; and • minimising areas of inaccessible land within the Control Area, through a requirement that 90% of land within the application area is either accessible or within 200m of accessible land. Before a licence is granted, participants will be required to submit to Natural England a Badger Control Plan detailing how badger control activity will be co-ordinated, carried out and funded, as well as providing information on the biosecurity measures in place on farms. Further guidance on the information to be included in a Badger Control Plan is at Annex D and a draft of Natural England’s guidance to applicants on biosecurity measures is at Annex E. 15. Responses to the 2010 consultation also questioned how Government would ensure an effective cull should the monitoring show that it was not being delivered in accordance with the licence conditions. 16. The draft Guidance to Natural England outlines a model which will ensure that Government is able to take robust enforcement action to ensure that once culling starts it is completed effectively. 17. We propose that all participants would be required to enter into agreements with Natural England under section 7 of the NERC Act. These ‘section 7 agreements’, called ‘TB Management Agreements’ would set out the participants’ obligations once a licence was granted, and if necessary as a last resort allow Government to intervene, access all participating land, take over responsibility for a culling operation, and recover the costs from the participants, should the participants fail to meet the conditions of the licence. In the case of a tenant farmer, the agreement would normally need to be entered into by the farmer’s landlord (to ensure that access to land is available to complete the cull if there is a change in tenancy) unless Natural England considers that the likelihood of accessible land falling below 70% as a result of the termination of any tenancy for any reason is very low. A draft TB Management Agreement accompanies the guidance at Annex F. 18. Participants would also be required to deposit sufficient funds to cover the total expected cost of the four-year cull (plus a contingency sum) before culling begins. Government would be able to access these funds in the event that it needed to intervene and assume responsibility for a culling operation, and be able to levy additional funds from the original participants should that be necessary. Details of the circumstances in which Government would be likely to intervene are set out in paragraph 31 of the draft guidance.
20 Jul 2011, 9:48 AM
Emails from GL and SD dated 19/7/11
'I am sure that it has been discussed and thought to be impractical, because contrary to what the farmers and the NFU say, badger numbers are not an issue, they are not increasing at an alarming rate, they control their own numbers, and over 50,000 are killed on our roads every year. the numbers have been fairly stable at around 350,000-400,000 in the whole of the UK for many years'.
' ... I personally think this is a very dangerous idea which could lead to the eradication of the badger from the UK if used generally indiscriminately.The contraception Defra has explored was a permanent sterilisation of the female badger'.
19 Jul 2011, 1:49 PM
It would seem that contraception could be a compromise for farmers who believe badgers are out of control in some areas?
Visit www.warmwell.com/jan11ruth.html July 14th 2011 ~ Feasibility of contraceptive bait - posting reproduced below.
A study by F. Cagnacci and G Massei carried out in 2003 and published here (pdf) in 2008 would seem to be worth urgent consideration. It highlighted how the efficiency of leaving bait for badgers could be affected by social behaviour. We read that : "...Badgers removed 97.8% of baits. There was no evidence of bait uptake by non-target species. Some 85% of the baits were immediately eaten at the baiting station; caching was not observed although it cannot be excluded. In 1/3 of visits, badgers consumed two or more baits...." (More) If numbers can be controlled with contraceptives, then the free shooting of badgers - even by marksmen who can ensure a clean kill - might be seen as unwise.
One wonders why a study undertaken eight years ago, part funded by DEFRA itself, should apparently have led nowhere. The situation now is so desperate that the plight of farmers and the bovine victims of an inflexible policy must surely move anyone of sensitivity who is prepared to look at the situation from all angles. A study thirteen years ago in 1997 Fertility control as a means of controlling bovine tuberculosis in badger (Meles meles) populations in south-west England: predictions from a spatial stochastic simulation model. by White PC, Lewis AJ, and Harris S. concluded that "whilst fertility control would not be a successful strategy for the control of bovine tuberculosis in badgers if used alone, it could be effective if used with culling as part of an integrated strategy." Nothing was done. The cost was considered a drawback. But the cost of doing nothing - in financial, political, and emotional terms - has been staggering.
27 Sep 2010, 6:18 PM
We have been sent the following report (email dated 27/09/10) which relates to the tourism industry and possible effects from wildlife culling.
The Badger Cull: The Need for an Impact on Tourism Survey.
" Tourism is big business in Wales. It contributes around £3.5 billion a year to the economy and employs up to 100,000 people at the peak of the season." Alun Ffred Jones (WAG website, August 6th 2010)
The Intensive Action Area where a badger cull will take place straddles three counties – Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire - all of which are popular tourist destinations. West Wales is a rural area visited by tourists who wish to enjoy its dramatic coastline, unspoilt countryside and abundant wildlife. It is an area which is increasingly being promoted as a clean, green, nature-friendly destination for those interested in eco-tourism and sustainable living. It boasts excellent visitor attractions; a National Park; a Coastal Path; wildlife reserves; traditional market towns; a high proportion of organic farms supplying a thriving specialist food industry which in turn supplies top quality pubs and restaurants; internationally recognised art galleries, artists and craftspeople; and excellent formal and informal music venues and festivals.
Tourism in West Wales is rural tourism. In 2001 the Wales Tourist Board noted in their annual report: "Farm tourism is a particularly well represented type of rural tourist activity, contributing significantly to Wales’ image as a holiday destination. It currently contributes at least £10 million per annum to the incomes of some 1600 farming families in Wales, typically representing between 15 and 50 per cent of their annual incomes."1
In the document 'Pembrokeshire's Facts of Tourism'2 available through Pembrokeshire County Council's website, the contribution of tourism as a whole to the economy of Pembrokeshire in 2008 is shown as follows:
£521 million total visitor spend, of which £384 million is direct spend. 4.2 million visitors, of which 1.9 million are day visitors. 14,108 full time equivalent jobs are directly supported by tourism.
Tourism in West Wales is closely interlinked with farming. What happens within farming impacts on tourism, as demonstrated by the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. The cost to Welsh tourism of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001 was put at £120million in a survey carried out by the BBC. The Wales Tourist Board put the figure at £280million3. According to Institute of Rural Studies, Aberystwyth, this figure could have been as high as £596 million4. The Wales Tourist Board estimated that 75% of businesses in Wales lost 60% of their sales revenue in that year5.
Yet the Welsh Assembly Government did not undertake an Impact on Tourism Survey before proposing to carry out a badger cull in a tourist area.
Of the 97 visitor attractions in Pembrokeshire (more than any other county in Wales), most are small "with fewer than 10,000 visitors per annum."6 The tourist economy in West Wales is made up of small businesses – restaurants, pubs, cafes, hotels, Bed and Breakfast accommodation, self-catering accommodation, visitor attractions, shops and suppliers. The Tourism Satellite Account for Wales, compiled by Cardiff Business School for Visit Wales using 2007 figures, found that "whilst just over 40% of visitors' spending was on accommodation and food, some 36% was on goods and services outside of identified tourist industries, demonstrating the wide range of services demanded by visitors and hence the breadth of economic impact."7 If a badger cull caused just 5% of expected visitors to choose to holiday elsewhere, the loss to Pembrokeshire's economy would be £26million a year, impacting directly on these small businesses. Tourists would not merely avoid the cull area itself but the whole of West Wales.
The Value of the Badger to Welsh Tourism
The badger is perceived to add value to tourism in West Wales.
The badger is used as a symbol representing wildlife in general (The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales), and as a positive image for tourists, such as the 'please click on the badger for more holiday information' of the Coast and Country Cottages website. Badgers are also used as a marketing tool by businesses at the 'top end' of the tourist market. The opportunity to see badgers in the wild is commonly given as a reason to visit specific places and stay in specific accommodation.
Two of West Wales' best known and most popular tourist developments are Bluestone and Fforest, both highly acclaimed high-end eco tourism destinations bringing tourist revenue into the area. These companies have used badgers in their marketing and publicity material. For instance, the BBC News website on 8th June 2009 stated:
'Management at Wales' first five-star holiday village say it has attracted 40,000 visitors to Pembrokeshire. … Mr McNamara was encouraged that Bluestone was already making a net contribution to Welsh tourism. He said most of holidaymakers said they would come back to Pembrokeshire within a year. "We knew that this was an opportunity at the top end of the market and that's what we have gone for and that's the result. We are very pleased because we are bringing a lot of high quality visitors who have never been to Pembrokeshire.'
The article goes on to say: 'Restaurants and shops on site are careful to source their produce from local suppliers wherever possible….The longer term aim is to increase biodiversity, encouraging as much wildlife as possible. There are ducklings on the man-made lake and red kites and badgers have been spotted.'8
The Bluestone website says: 'If you stroll along our woodland nature trail in the late afternoon, you are quite likely to see a squirrel, fox or badger, while the hedges provide a perfect habitat for many birds, mammals and flora.'9
Fforest, near Cardigan, stated in their 2008 brochure: 'To the north and west lies the Teifi Marshes nature reserve. The reserve mainly consists of the salt marshes and reed beds of the Teifi flood plain, hosting thriving populations of otter, badger, deer and hugely diverse birdlife.'10
In an article in the Western Mail in August 2010 it was noted that: "More than a quarter of visitors to Wales actively sought environmentally friendly accommodation when booking to come here, according to last year’s Wales Visitor Survey. A further 33% of people said choosing a destination that managed carbon emissions was very important."11
In 2000, the Valuing our Environment Study "concluded that the natural environment supports 117,000 full time equivalent jobs in Wales that in turn help support 1 in 6 of the Welsh workforce.'12
This report goes on to say: "Other benefits that could be generated by an increase in wildlife tourism would include an increase in the levels of diversification into tourism related activities within the agricultural sector and within the rural economy in general (category 3). Such developments would obviously be beneficial from a rural economic development perspective. A review of wildlife tourism in Scotland concluded that wildlife tourism does bring jobs to rural areas and is therefore a significant boost to fragile local economies. It also noted that wildlife tourism provides added value to the tourism infrastructure of Scotland, including its remote areas. Such developments could also be beneficial in Wales."13
A quick search on the internet for holiday accommodation in West Wales gives the following examples of quality accommodation offering the badger as a marketing advantage:
Quality Cottages offers information about Llys y Fran Country Park as an attraction "with lots of wild and bird life – badgers, foxes, otters, sparrowhawk, buzzard and woodpeckers as well as little gulls and black tern on the lake."14
Premier Cottages lists no less than five cottages, some of them award winning, which offer the opportunity to see badgers from the cottage.15
Many other, smaller, ventures have seized the advantage: "We are surrounded by country life with foxes, badgers, buzzards, bats, owls and many other interesting wild birds regularly seen. Many guests enjoy badger watching as there is a badger set close by." "There is also an abundance of bird and wildlife on the farm, which we encourage….Foxes and badgers have their sets in the wooded areas of the farm."
"Pembrokeshire also offers a huge range of activities to suit the needs and interests of all the family; from horse riding on the beach to a boat trip around an off shore Island, a fishing trip to watching wildlife such as badgers and bats, we can point you in the right direction."
"Rabbits, foxes and badgers are often seen on this delightful country walk."
" An integral part of a 60-acre working sheep and horse farm, the detached building forms an outcrop off a ten acre wood that we maintain as a nature reserve and is home to buzzards, kites and badgers."
The Image of Tourism in Wales
"Wales must compete with every other location for our share of the world’s commercial, political, social and cultural transactions. The markets in which we compete are increasingly global and very crowded – we need a distinctive competitive identity." Economic Renewal: A New Direction, July 2010. (WAG)
£15.8million has recently been allocated from the European Regional Development Fund to "develop centres of excellence with the highest standards of facilities that will act as a hub for encouraging more sustainable tourism centred on Wales' natural environment."16 This is excellent news for tourism in West Wales which is already recognised as an eco tourism destination.
The Economic Renewal document goes on to state: "A nation’s competitive identity is made up of a complex mix of experiences, perceptions and associations often created over a long period. Nations with a positive reputation and image can add value to the goods, products, services and companies associated with that country – the so-called 'identity premium."'17
On the 18th May 2010 national television news broadcast coverage of numbers of police escorting masked Welsh Assembly Government representatives on to private land near Newport, Pembrokeshire, in order to carry out a survey of badger setts without the owner's permission. It was a publicity disaster for tourism in West Wales. Holidaymakers visiting West Wales for the Whitsun bank holiday soon after the television coverage were keen to express their dismay. Wildlife Trusts around the UK publicised the cull, and several web-based campaigns were organised to discourage people from visiting Wales or buying Welsh dairy produce.18
The 'identity premium' of West Wales as an eco-friendly, clean, green, tourist destination would be irrevocably damaged by a badger cull.
To eliminate the badger population entirely from an area of West Wales will impact severely on tourism. It will undermine the work that local West Wales tourism businesses have undertaken over the past 30 years or more to strengthen the image of West Wales as a top quality tourism destination. As was shown in 2001, many of these businesses are farming businesses who have diversified into tourism.
West Wales has succeeded in attracting the type of tourist who will bring the most economic benefit and the least environmental impact. These tourists bring prosperity to the specialist food industry, the many art and craft businesses in West Wales, support local cultural, food, art and music festivals, and give great support to wildlife businesses and charities in the area. These tourists are exactly the type of prosperous, educated, professional people who are informed on wildlife matters. They are unlikely to choose to holiday in an area where a badger cull is going to take place, is taking place, or has taken place.
Wales has recently won a reputation as a cutting-edge centre for media and the Arts. The building of the Millennium Centre, the making of television programmes such as Dr Who, Torchwood and Casualty, and the use of West Wales for film locations in Robin Hood and Harry Potter have all added to Wales' international image as a forward looking, go-getting culture. A badger cull does not fit well with this image. It is not a cutting-edge response to the problem of bovine TB. The Western Mail recently reported that: "A WAG spokesman said tourism was of growing importance with recent research by Cardiff University showing the industry contributes around 4.3% of Gross Value Added to the whole Welsh economy compared with 3.7% in 2000. “Tourism is very much integrated into the Assembly Government's wider multi-million economic regeneration programmes throughout Wales.”19
Before any decision can be made on a badger cull anywhere in Wales, it is imperative that a full Impact on Tourism Survey be undertaken.
References: 1. Wales Tourist Board, 2001a. Annual Report 1999–2000. WTB, Cardiff. 2. Pembrokeshire's Facts of Tourism: www.tourismhelp.co.uk 3. BBC News Wales. news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1891168.stm 4. Foot and mouth disease: impact on the tourism industry in Rural Wales. Youell, R., Institute of Rural Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2001. 5. Impact of the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Britain: implications for rural studies. Alister Scott, Michael Christie, Peter Midmore, Journal of Rural Studies 20 (2004) 1–14. 6. Pembrokeshire's Facts of Tourism: www.tourismhelp.co.uk 7. Welsh European Funding Office: wefo.wales.gov.uk/news/latest/100715outdooradventuretourism/?skip=1&lang=en 8. news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8083588.stm 9. www.bluestonewales.com/content/about_us/environmental_responsibilities.aspx 10. www.coldatnight.co.uk/fforest_brochure_2008.pdf 11. Why Wales has so much to offer for holidays. Western Mail, August 7, 2010. 12. Wildlife Economy Wales, an Economic Evaluation Scoping Study. May 2007. www.ccw.gov.uk/pdf/WildlifeEconomyWales_FINALREPORT_July2007.pdf 13. Wildlife Economy Wales, an Economic Evaluation Scoping Study. May 2007. www.ccw.gov.uk/pdf/WildlifeEconomyWales_FINALREPORT_July2007.pdf 14. www.qualitycottages.co.uk/ref1112.htm 15. www.premiercottages.co.uk/cottage 16. Welsh Assembly Government website newsroom, 14 July 2010; and wefo.wales.gov.uk/news/latest/100715outdooradventuretourism/?skip=1&lang=en). 17. wales.gov.uk/docs/det/report/100705anewdirectionen.pdf p16) 18. www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers/boycott.htm 19. Why Wales has so much to offer for holidays. Western Mail, August 7, 2010.