Tuesday 27 August 2013

Bristish Badgers,The Badger Cull and the Artist

  I love badgers. 
Please forgive my post moving away from my art , just for this once.
I usually share paintings and my inspiration for them on my blog. Unfortunately I have been working on a painting that simply isn't turning out. Each time I pick up my brush my heart sinks and I must admit, tears fall. You may think I am being overly emotive but I have been  desperately searching for facts that can put my mind at rest over the badger cull that has started to take place in UK supposedly to help reduce Bovine TB. I can't find any. Instead I keep coming up with statement after statement explaining why a cull could possibly make matters worse. So these beautiful creatures will suffer for no reason.
 For my blog readers who don't live in UK or who are unaware of what is happening here, the UK government has approved a cull which is going against all scientific findings and public outrage. Experts say this "cull" is wrong and yet the slaughter is going ahead in what has to be the most unbelievable manner. Not all animals slaughtered will be tested to see if they even carry the disease. Another frightening point is that as there are no accurate wildlife numbers in each cull  zone, the stated 70% of all badgers being slaughtered could lead to a complete  wipe out of a once well loved and adored animal from  our English countryside. 
I am an animal lover. I owe so much to the wildlife that has been a subject for my watercolours for so long. I find it hard to sit back and watch as thousands of innocent creatures are being destroyed when an alternative solution could have been found.  I have been horrified for years by the poaching in Africa, and the terrible Tiger situation. These atrocities gained worldwide attention deservedly so. But I naively believed we were a nation of animal  lovers in England. I also believed, as a country, we would be against killing any animal unecessarily or inhumanely.
There is so much to read online about this issue and I have shared a few comments below. But if like me you are horrifed as to what is happening please sign the petition against the badger culls via this link.
If you don't live in UK you can read more about this and sign an international petition via this link
  Please don't let them make the badger extinct. These animals need your help.
You can read the following statements which say far more  eloquently than I why the cull is so wrong on so many levels.
 Extracts from the Houses Of Parliament Debate June 2013
 Kerry McCarthy 
5 Jun 2013 : Column 1539
."The difficulty of knowing how many badgers there are in an area has been raised many times, including by Lord Krebs and others. Last year, the Government delayed plans to cull badgers as they could not work out how many badgers there were in the cull areas. I understand that according to the Government’s own figures, farmers in Gloucestershire must kill between 2,856 and 2,932 badgers, but according to Professor Rosie Woodroffe at the Zoological Society of London, the estimate of the population ranges much more widely, from 2,657 to 4,079, and there is a 40% chance that the figure for the real population lies outside that range. Professor Woodroffe has concluded that if the real population is below the minimum cull target of 2,856, farmers could kill every badger in the area, breaking the strict condition of the licence that forbids local extinctions while simultaneously failing to kill enough badgers to satisfy the terms of the same licence. The situation is similar in Somerset".
 "My hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) mentioned the humaneness of the killing. The Humane Society International UK recently obtained from a freedom of information request the heavily redacted document that will be used to monitor the humaneness of the badger cull. I would like to take up the concerns voiced by the society. Will the Minister make public how wounded animals that retreat underground will be included in the humaneness assessment? That is not mentioned in the document. The document admits that no shooter will have prior experience of shooting badgers. My office spoke to Pauline Kidner from the Secret World wildlife rescue, which is based in Somerset and has worked with badgers for many years. She said that badgers are not an easy animal to shoot, and when injured will always go back to their sett. So free shooting is likely to result in a slower death as a result of secondary infections and starvation from reduced mobility, and that will prolong the pain and distress suffered by badgers."

“Vaccinating badgers could play a much larger role in controlling bovine TB while a cattle vaccine is developed and licensed.”
Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): I rise to speak about a serious problem that I know causes great consternation in the farming community. We know how serious it is to be faced with having to slaughter cattle, so Labour Members are determined to continue to make progress toward eradicating bovine TB. We commissioned the randomised badger culling trial, the largest scientific project on the effects of culling, which reported in 2007. That trial, which provided the most extensive scientific evidence on the impacts of culling badgers and which lasted 10 years and cost £50 million, examined the effects of culling at 10 high-risk sites across England. The report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB stated:

“After careful consideration of all the RBCT and other data presented in this report, including an economic assessment, we conclude that badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain.”
Lord Krebs, the foremost expert on bovine TB in badgers has called for a twin-track approach of developing an effective vaccine in the long term and improving biosecurity and cattle management to prevent herds from coming into contact with badgers and passing on the disease. He was one of 30 scientists who stated in a letter to the press:

“As scientists with expertise in managing wildlife and wildlife diseases, we believe the complexities of TB transmission mean that licensed culling risks increasing cattle TB rather than reducing it.”


Chris Williamson:.  The Government are taking the wrong course of action. It is not just me saying that as a trustee of the League Against Cruel Sports; this is the scientific evidence. Let me quote some of the scientific evidence for the record.
5 Jun 2013 : Column 1555
Lord Krebs, who chaired a review team that originated the idea of the RBCT, said on 12 October 2012 on the “Today” programme:

“The scientific case is as clear as it can be: this cull is not the answer to TB in cattle. I have not found any scientists who are experts in population biology or the distribution of infectious disease in wildlife who think that culling is a good idea."

"The recently retired Government chief scientist, Professor Sir John Beddington, has also refused to back the cull.
A letter published in The Observer on 14 October 2012 and signed by more than 30 scientists, including Professor John Bourne, former chairman of the ISG, Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, president of the Zoological Society of London, Professor Sir John Lawton, former chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, Dr Chris Cheeseman, formerly of the Food and Environment Research Agency, Professor Denis Mollison, former independent scientific auditor to the RBCT, and Professor Richard Kock of the Royal Veterinary College, states:

“the complexities of TB transmission mean that licensed culling risks increasing cattle TB rather than reducing it”.




Anonymous said...

IAs Brits it's not our finest hour. Bless you for blogging about it and making others aware.

Studio Kaufmann said...

As a Brit now living in USA I too am greatly saddened by the badger cull and have signed the petition. Let us hope the govt will see the error of their ways....although I fear it is already too late.

I also want to say I am a watercolor artist and find many of your youtube videos inspirational.