At this year’s AGM our speaker was Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, who talked about the Government’s highly controversial plan to roll out the badger cull across the country. Those against the cull say the impact of badgers spreading bTB is extremely small compared to the impact of cattle passing the disease to other cattle through poor farming practices, flawed testing for the disease, and mass cattle movements around the country.
Dominic’s background working in the Ministry of Agriculture means he has a broad understanding of both farming and politics. He explained that continuing retail demand for low prices on dairy and meat products has led farmers to try to supplement incomes by selling cows, necessitating this movement. Transmission of bTB from cow to cow accounts for 95 per cent of contagion while badgers account for just five percent.
Dominic reminded us how the recent cull was not only cruel, with badgers taking between five and 15 minutes to die and that the shooting, killing, and terrifying of these animals served to disperse them around the countryside but that the cull cost the taxpayer £6,500 per badger to implement.
Cruelty to badgers has increased by 100 per cent in the past five years. Dominic is not alone in believing that the demonising, indeed scapegoating of badgers, turning them into ‘culprits’ for the spread of disease, has served to increase persecution by badger baiters, hunt masters and those who engage in random acts of cruelty. The increase in badger baiting also means more abuse of dogs, the trading of lurchers and pitbulls on the internet and a surge in illegal gambling.
Dominic spoke about the broad range of other animal issues he is concerned with through Care for the Wild, now merged with Born Free.
These included the continued use of wild animals in UK circuses which allows foreign circuses to bring their wild animals into the UK. The Taji dolphin slaughter Japan where dolphins are also captured alive to feed the demand for ‘performing’ dolphins, created by marine parks, and the shocking ‘canned’ hunting business in South Africa where today there are 150 lion breeding farms providing lions to shoot. Dominic also explained how huge profits made from illegal poaching of elephants and rhinos for ivory and horn is now linked with funding some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups. Our speaker suggested that diverting a percentage of foreign aid to help animals and illegal poaching could combat terrorism.
While all this may all sound gloomy, the greatly encouraging side is the growth of animal rights groups across the globe and our magnificent secular campaigning organisations in the UK, run by professionals with exceptional knowledge and experience in their fields. QCA has forged good links with many of these organisations and individual members can work with them to help non-human animals.
The Badger Trust: http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/
Report: Ann Johnson