Fears that badger slaughter could drive holiday makers away in droves
LEADING animal campaigning group Viva! has warned that any 'culling' of badgers in the South West could have serious and long-lasting implications for an industry worth far more to the area than dairy farming(1). Although the group is not calling for a boycott of tourism it maintains that a badger 'cull' would not only be cruel and unnecessary, it could be a PR disaster for the area and put off many potential visitors. Viva! are calling on local councils and tourism chiefs to ask the Government to consider the negative impacts a 'cull' would have in the South West - especially as the busy tourism season is fast approaching. The group maintains that a 'cull' designed to reduce the incidence of TB in cattle is wrong-headed and liable to fail - and could even make the problem worse(2). Justin Kerswell, Viva!'s campaigns manager, says: “Public revulsion against the idea of badger 'culling' is widespread and is growing by the day. Tourism hotspots in the South West are liable to be caught up, or be near any destruction of wildlife sanctioned by the Government. This would be the worst possible advert for a part of the country that relies on tourism for a great deal of its income. Even worse, 'culls' are expected to last for years. “The concern has to be that holiday makers will see images of badgers being shot on TV and will react with understandable shock. This could have the major knock on effect of families rejecting the South West as a holiday destination and choosing parts of Britain where they won't run the risk of hearing shots ringing out in the night from their holiday cottages. “The income from tourism dwarfs that of dairy farming in the UK. The question then has to be why risk sacrificing the area's tourism industry on a pointless, cruel 'cull' that will last for years and simply won't work' For more information, visit www.viva.org.uk/badgers. ENDS Notes to Editors (1) According to the South West Tourism Alliance tourism is worth £9.4 billion annually to the area alone (http://www.swtourismalliance.org.uk/finance-facts-figures/quick-regional...), but the dairy industry nationally has a national turnover of just around £3 billion (http://www.dairyuk.org/component/docman/doc_download/6500-dick-sibley). This figure is further dwarfed when you consider that tourism is worth a total annually of £115 billion to the country (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10724560). (2) The Independent Scientific Group (ISG) conducted a ten year study on bovine TB, which concluded that “Badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of bTB in Britain. The ISG report also expressed the concern that surviving badgers may move to new areas and this could cause the disease to spread. Ann Widdecombe - Devon resident and star of BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing - has lent her support to Viva!'s campaign against badger 'culling' by saying: “There is a strong body of opinion that wholesale culling is not the answer. I wish this project every success in highlighting alternatives. Ben Bradshaw, former minister and Labour MP for Exeter - which is located in the heart of the South West of England, where the toll on badgers is expected to be highest - has also condemned the proposed mass slaughter. He says: “The Government's plan for a badger cull is not supported by the science and is likely to make bovine TB worse. They join Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay, Adrian Sanders, who has also previously voiced his strong opposition to Government proposals to allow badger 'culling' to go ahead. View Viva!'s fully referenced report on TB and badgers (http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers/factsheet.htm). Viva! has been campaigning against 'cull' proposals in England and Wales since June 2008. This has included a National Rally for Badgers, when over 300 people gathered peacefully on the steps of the Welsh Assembly's Debating Rooms to voice objection and national Days of Action across Britain. Further statement from Viva! “Ultimately, a decision to slaughter badgers across large swathes of England says little about controlling TB in cattle, but a lot about political game playing. To press ahead is a short-termist policy to please rural voters and keep Tory and LibDem politicians in their seats. Caroline Spelman and the rest of the cabinet have the bare-faced cheek to sanction a mass 'cull' of badgers when, in reality, it is nothing short of a collective case of the emperor's new clothes. Obliterating badgers will do little to affect TB infection rates and obscures the real reasons for the spread of the disease, namely an intensified dairy industry, poor biosecurity, mass cattle movements exceeding 13 million a year and fraud. “We are on the verge of exterminating an indigenous wild animal across parts of the South West for a lie. This is not sentimentalism; the science simply isn't there to support this war on wildlife. It is shocking that the Government is willing to sacrifice badgers on the altar of a dairy industry which refuses to accept any blame for a situation of its own making. For more information about this media release, contact campaigns manager, Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or by emailing email@example.com.