With the Honey Badger's recent rise to fame, I found this story, about a proposal to cull badgers, particularly interesting. In response to an increased number of cattle contracting Tuberculosis, the British government has decided on a policy that would issue licenses allowing people to shoot badgers, which are believed to be the carriers of the disease.
The Badge Trust has filed a legal challenge to the decision, questioning the effectiveness of the proposal. The trust argues that the Protection of Badgers Act says licenses to kill can be granted for "preventing the spread of disease," but the government's reliance on the mere slow-down in the rate of increase does not equate to prevention.
Additionally, the trust takes issue with the government's planned method of killing the badgers, by allowing licensed contractors to shoot badgers as they roam, referred to as "free shooting" as opposed to trapping and then shooting them, which is likely to be less efficient and to increase disruption of badger families. The Randomised Badger Culling Trial, a situation in which badgers were caught and then shot, showed that when badger's social groups are disrupted, they roam further, carrying the TB bacterium to more farms.
The trust has also pointed out that a majority of the new cases are arising in cattle, and thus the government should look more closely at enacting cattle regulations.
This whole story seems somewhat bizarre to me. Rather than the government taking care of what could properly be considered a pest control problem, or doing something else to prevent the spread of TB within the badger community, they are issuing licenses to people to shoot them on site. It seems incredibly unsophisticated and not well thought through. Lucky for the badgers there is a group of people representing their trust that is actually considering the implications of the proposal.
I think the Honey Badger would definitely care about this issue.
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