True cost of badger cull revealed
Defra has calculated the cost of the controversial 2013 badger cull at £6.3 million but failed to include an extra £3.5 million spent on policing the operation, say wildlife charities.
Government data leaked to the Daily Telegraph revealed that a total of 1,879 badgers were slain during last year’s cull at a cost of £3,000 per animal. However, according to the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, the figures have overlooked the £3.5m cost of policing the cull, putting the true amount at a staggering £5,200 per badger. The reason for the omission is unclear since the cost of policing was included in Defra’s cost/benefit analysis prior to the 2013 cull and was charged to them by the Home Office.
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor for Care for the Wild, said: “If every badger killed last year cost the taxpayer £3,000, that would be a horrendous waste of money on a policy that leading scientists say won’t work. But the reality is that every badger killed actually cost £5,200 – and that is simply beyond belief.”
The pilot badger cull was introduced in Gloucestershire and Somerset in August 2013 to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). A second cull is planned to go ahead next year despite lack of scientific consensus and failure of the pilot to meet its targets.
Mr Dyer added: “The government claim they have to do something as bovine TB costs the country a lot of money, and they say that ‘doing nothing is not an option’. But just over the border in Wales, they have looked at the problem, thoroughly tested their cattle so they really understand how many actually have the illness, and brought in more frequent testing and better movement controls. By doing that, they have brought down the number of cattle slaughtered for bTB by 48% in five years. Wales has a policy that is far from doing nothing, and is actually working. England has a policy that is inhumane, unscientific and is throwing money down the drain.”