Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Welsh Assembly massacring wildlife to save their own skins

Release date: 
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

THE Welsh Assembly has been accused of political cowardice by a group representing thousands of animal lovers across the UK over its decision to go ahead with a "cull' of badgers. Viva!, Europe's largest vegetarian campaigning organisation, are accusing Elin Jones (Minister for Welsh Rural Affairs) of giving the green light to bloodshed " a move which will do nothing to halt the spread of bovine TB " to safeguard the seats of rural politicians. The decision is despite Hilary Benn (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) announcing last week that a non-lethal capture-and-inoculate policy for badgers would be tested in England next summer in six TB hotspots. Regardless of also receiving over 12,000 postcards in opposition to the plans, and a petition signed by 3,700 residents in North Wales, the Welsh Assembly announced today that trial "cull' area has been identified in Pembrokeshire. Viva! campaigns manager Justin Kerswell, says: "This terrible decision will not only have a disastrous effect on Welsh wildlife, it will do nothing to stop bovine TB spreading. The ten year ISG report concluded "culling' badgers will make no significant difference to the problem*. 'Rather than based on science, this is a political decision designed to appease farmers and protect the seats of rural politicians. It is a move that will cause unnecessary suffering to potentially thousands of animals, as there is no method of killing badgers which can be described as humane. It is also a smokescreen, as the same criteria " such as geographical borders " cannot be rolled out to the rest of Wales. Welsh badgers will be butchered even though there are non-lethal approaches that could be employed instead. Political cowardice to tackle the real reasons behind the spread of bovine TB will potentially see Welsh wildlife decimated.' Viva! have been campaigning against "cull' proposals since June 2008, which 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. The group maintains the farming industry should look closer to home to identify the cause of the bovine TB epidemic. 'the rush to intensify animal agriculture has led to this disastrous situation. Dairy cows suffer the dual burden of pregnancy and lactation during much of their lives. Their immune systems are shot to pieces and they are physically exhausted and killed after just two or three lactations, at four or five years old. Add to this, unreliable bovine TB testing that is inaccurate in one-third of cases, and the mass movement of cattle around the country, and you start to see the real causes of the problem,' adds Mr Kerswell. For more information about Viva!'s campaign against the "cull' of badgers in Wales, visit www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers. ENDS For more information about this media release, contact press officer Helen Rossiter or Justin Kerswell, by emailing press@viva.org.uk or justin@viva.org.uk or call 0117 944 1000. Notes to Editors On February 11, 2009, The National Farmers Union (NFU) was banned from repeating an advertisement placing sole blame on badgers for the spread of bovine TB by the Advertising Standards Agency. *The Independent Scientific Group (ISG) conducted a ten year study on bTB Viva! held a National Day of Action in Wales on September 20, 2008 against the "cull' of badgers. This followed the group's National Rally for Badgers in June 2008. Visit www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers/rally to see pictures from the event or visit http://blip.tv/file/1056824 to view a short film. Viva! has been putting pressure on the Welsh Assembly to follow England's Food & Rural Affairs Minister Hilary Benn's lead and rule out a 'cull' in Wales. Viva!'s campaign is supported by Welsh AMs Lorraine Barrett (Cardiff South and Penarth) and Trish Law (Blaenau Gwent). Quotes are available from them and from celebrities including Twiggy, Joanna Lumley, Wendy Turner-Webster, Benjamin Zephaniah and Rose Elliot. A fully referenced Viva! fact sheet on badgers and bTB can be read on-line at http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers/factsheet.htm