Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Take action

Urgent: Contact the Prime Minister and ask him to stop the 'cull'
Urgent: Write to your local paper and back our dairy boycott
Urgent: Contact your MP to tell them ‘Badgers will fight back at the polls’
Urgent: Contact Michelle O'Neill. No to badger 'culling' in Northern Ireland!

Sadly, badgers were shot last year in two areas of England as part of a terminally misguided attempt to control TB in cattle. In 2014, licences have been issued for the killing to continue this Autumn. They are scapegoats for farmers' failings and outrageous political backslapping. Thankfully the Welsh Government has reversed policy to kill badgers and is now pursuing vaccination of wildlife. Despite becoming ever more isolated, the coalition Government in England has pressed ahead with this wide-reaching extermination of indigenous British wildlife. 

Also, Northern Ireland is being pressurised into considering a 'cull' despite having the lowest historical incidence of the disease (with a selective 'cull' earmarked for spring 2014). The largest report into bovine TB found that badger 'culling' would actually make the situation worse by displacing surviving badgers.

Please stand up for the badger!

  • Don't eat meat or dairy - animal agriculture is at the root of the badger's plight. Click here to find out how to ditch them! Sign our online petition to boycott English dairy (over 4,500 people have already taken the pledge!).
     
  • Click here for your free badger door-dropper leaflets. For bigger numbers of leaflets for stalls and other uses please email liam@viva.org.uk. Spread the word!
     
  • Register to join peaceful and legal injured badger walks in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
  • Join our dedicated Welsh and English Facebook groups to fight badger 'culling'!
     
  • Protest!: organise your own peaceful protest. We can send you free materials (see above), we just need you to take the message to the people.
     
  • Viva! needs your support. Please donate to our campaign and help us stop the misery of factory farming and the destruction of our wildlife. Join Viva! if you are not already a supporter.

Badgers at the ballot box! 

Urgent: tell your MP to back badgers!

The decision in England to pursue a policy of badger ‘culling’ has little to do with eradicating TB in cattle. However, it has much to do with political favouritism and politicians holding onto their own seats by currying favour with a deluded farming lobby that thinks that badgers are to blame for their own failings.

What can we do?

With a national election looming next year, we think it is important to remind politicians (of all political colours) that a decision to back badgers might favour them, but a decision to back ‘culling’ could cost them dear at the ballot box. The email/letter below is suggested text, but please adjust it as you see fit (especially to tell a politician that you would normally vote for that you won’t because of this issue) and please keep all correspondence polite.

Find your MP’s contact details (England): http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

“Dear [name of politician or MP]

I am writing to you as a constituent to let you know that I am very concerned about the fate of badgers being scapegoated in a misguided attempt to control bovine TB.

I am absolutely horrified that the badger ‘cull’ policy is continuing and I want to let you know that this will influence my vote at future elections. In other words, I will not vote for politicians who back any type of badger ‘culling’ and I will be working to encourage friends and family to do likewise.

Persecuting badgers for being the main vector for spreading bTB makes as much sense as persecuting black cats for spreading bad luck and witchcraft. It is time that the badger stopped being a scapegoat for the failings of farming.

The qualified consensus - reached by the 10 year study by Independent Scientific Group - is that "badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of bovine TB in Britain." Yes, cases have sometimes increased, but the fact remains that the finger of blame for this crisis has to point back at the farming community and bad political decisions. They can attempt to demonise wildlife all they want, but the intensification of farming practices and the huge increase in cattle movements are the real reasons for the spread of this disease. Around 14 million cattle are moved across the UK each year - this number has quadrupled since 1999.

I wish to reiterate that my position is not based on sentiment, but on science. Indeed, eminent scientists and ecologists, such as Lord Krebs and Dr. Rosie Woodroffe, have recently condemned plans as going against the science.

With Wales having decided on a policy of not ‘culling’ England is looking ever more isolated in its position.

Put simply, if you are against badger ‘culling’ I ask you to speak out and make your voice heard amongst fellow politicians and decision makers. If you support a policy of ‘culling’ I ask you to reconsider this and the impact it could have on your seat come election time and the impact on your party. Please do not underestimate the strength of feeling that is burgeoning across the country at this needless push to eradicate badgers when farming based measures alone could bring the TB crisis under control.

Please back Britain's wildlife and say no to badger 'culling'.

Yours sincerely”

[Don’t forget to add your address!]

 

Support the English dairy boycott

Are you an English resident? To spread awareness about our dairy boycott, please send the letter below (or even better your own version) to your local newspaper - and raise awareness as to why badgers are being killed.

"Dear Editor

I am horrified that the policy to kill badgers in England is continuing. It is a needless massacre driven by farmers and politicians. In protest I am boycotting English dairy products and would like to encourage others to do likewise.

Persecuting badgers for being the main vector for spreading bTB makes as much sense as persecuting black cats for spreading bad luck and witchcraft. It is time that the badger stopped being a scapegoat for the failings of farming.

The qualified consensus - reached by the 10 year study by Independent Scientific Group - is that "badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of bovine TB in Britain." Yes, cases have sometimes increased, but the fact remains that the finger of blame for this crisis has to point back at the farming community and bad political decisions. They can attempt to demonise English wildlife all they want, but the intensification of farming practices and the huge increase in cattle movements are the real reasons for the spread of this disease. Around 14 million cattle are moved across the UK each year - this number has quadrupled since 1999.

Dairy herd sizes have more than doubled since the 1970s - when bovine TB was at its lowest. There is a direct correlation between larger herd sizes and the spread of disease. 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 at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Add to this unreliable bovine TB testing that is inaccurate in one-third of cases and you start to see the real causes of the problem.

My disgust that English badgers are still under threat is so profound that I am boycotting all English dairy products - and I would encourage all those with a love of our indigenous wildlife to do the same. Perhaps a drop in profits will bring the industry - and our politicians - to their senses.

For more information on what you can do, visit www.viva.org.uk/badgers

Yours faithfully"

[Make sure to add your address otherwise they will not print your letter!]

 

Email the Prime Minister

Ask the coalition in England to follow the lead of Wales

Despite the u-turn in Wales over badger ‘culling’, the coalition is continuing in its policy to kill badgers in England. Please write to the Prime Minister to ask him to abandon this policy - and copy Environment Secretary Liz Truss, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs George Eustice and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg into your message, too, in a separate email!

Contact No10 and David Cameron directly using this web form.

Email Liz Truss (put FAO Liz Truss): defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Email George Eustice (put FAO George Eustice): defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Email Nick Clegg: nick.clegg.mp@parliament.uk

“Dear Prime Minister

I am horrified that the badger 'cull' went ahead last year despite such widespread opposition from the public, independent scientists and animal experts. It is an animal welfare disaster.

I am even more horrified that the go ahead has now been given for the 'cull' to continue in 2014. Especially as TB figures are already plummeting and have been vastly overestimated in the past couple of years due to incompetence. England is looking increasingly isolated and I am urging you to follow Wales' lead by pursuing a non-lethal, science led approach to fighting TB in cattle.

I also want to remind you how unpopular the 'culls' remain with the majority of the public and this will be remembered during the next election. People are becoming increasingly exasperated by Government claims that the 'culls' were a success, when clearly they were utter failures even when judged by your own criteria. 

To repeat, the policy to kill badgers in England is incredibly unpopular with the majority of voters and is also likely to be damaging politically - and it won't even work!

Please reverse the policy in England to kill badgers.

Yours faithfully”

 

Tell Northern Ireland not to kill badgers

f there was one place where you would think that badgers would be safe it would be Northern Ireland (NI). The incidence of bovine TB (bTB) is lower there than anywhere in the UK, and lower than in the Republic of Ireland. Levels of bTB in NI cattle fell by 50 per cent between 2002-07 - this was achieved without killing any badgers by using effective cattle control methods. However, farmers are once again clamouring for ‘culling’ in NI – boosted by the disastrous policy in England. Politicians there have now said that a selective 'cull' of badgers could happen in early 2014 if certain criteria are met.

The fact that badgers free of the disease will be vaccinated and released, whilst those testing postive would be killed, it ignores the fact that badgers are not the main vector for TB. Politicans in NI would be better off tightening biosecurity further and cracking down on illegal badger baiting.

Use the letter below as a template (or even better create your own).

Send polite messages to: 

Michelle O'Neill
Minister of Agriculture
Room 337
Parliament Buildings
Belfast BT4 3XX 

Or email: private.office@dardni.gov.uk
Or fax: 02890524170
 

"Dear Minister O’Neill

I am writing to you to ask that you abandon plans for a selective 'cull' of badgers in 2014.

According the the Northern Ireland Badger Group, only 17 per cent of badgers in NI are infected with TB. In England, even those backing a 'cull' only say that more-or-less decimating badgers in certain areas will result in a paltry 12-16 per cent reduction after nine years. This clearl y shows the crux of the problem lies elsewhere and killing badgers is only pandering to farmers.

Badgers are not to blame for the bTB crisis. Michelle Gildernew previously stated that, "… we do not know with any certainty the extent to which badgers contribute to the incidence of TB in cattle." However, the largest study ever undertaken into the issue - the Independent Scientific Group's report - stated categorically that 'culling' badgers would make no meaningful contribution to controlling the spread of the disease - and could make things worse. NI has shown the way in recent years in sensibly tackling bTB through the main vector - cattle-to-cattle transmission. The reduction of 50 per cent (between 2002-07) of bTB in cattle is encouraging - and all without killing wildlife. I urge you to continue with this approach.

It is also madness to begin killing wildlife, even in a limited way, when there are issues left unaddressed within farming. The NI Audit Office's report, The Control of Bovine Tuberculosis in NI (March 2009), highlighted several areas for future improvement in the fight against bTB - but was firmly against badger 'culling'. The report blames inadequate boundary fencing and poor on-farm bio-security; the failure of farmers to take part in training to limit the spread of disease and increase their bio-security knowledge; failure to implement pre-movement testing; and failure to tackle potentially widespread non-compliance by farmers, and insufficient fines to discourage future fraud.

Whilst these issues remain unaddressed in NI, I would suggest that your department's efforts are better served tackling these problems - as well as fast tracking vaccination for both badgers and cattle. Please continue to say no to the needless slaughter of NI wildlife.

Yours sincerely"