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August 28, 2013 10:54 PM

BadgerIn October 1979 Peter Walker, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, commissioned a friendly scientist, Solly Zuckerman, to look into the problem of badgers and bovine tuberculosis. At the time 'New Scientist' said that the Zuckerman report, "Should at least provide Mr Walker with a solid base to build a long-term policy in place of the present vagueness, vacillation and myopia."

Thirty-four years of VVM later the culling has begun. Some experts say it'll help, some say it won't, and some say it'll make matters worse. When experts fall out the rest of us just have to keep our heads down and hope for the best.

Meanwhile the problem of BTB has got much worse than it was in Walker's day. Acoording to the BBC, "Bovine TB is spreading across England and devastating our cattle and dairy industries. Over 28,000 cattle were slaughtered in England in 2012 due to bovine TB, and the disease is continuing to spread across England. New herd incidents in Great Britain have risen from 1,075 in 1996 to 5,171 in 2012. In 2012, 6,919 herds were under restrictions due to bovine TB."

During the hunting debate one of the newspapers mentioned a figure of 20,000 foxes per annum killed by hunters, compared with 100,000 killed on the roads. In this part of Wiltshire for every dead fox you see on the roads on a May morning you'll see about ten dead badgers. Extrapolating the figures gives an annual roadkill estimate of a million badgers. It would be relatively easy to reduce this figure, but nobody bothers. Why do the animal rights organisations care so much about the small number of badgers culled in the fight against bovine tuberculosis, and so little for the huge numbers dying nightly on the roads?