Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 4

Letter from Mr David Acland (J5)

  I write as a farmer who has had a number of cows destroyed as reactors, and where badgers suffering from tuberculosis have been observed by MAFF vets. Local farmers are concerned about the timeframe of the Krebs report and the likelihood of its producing a definitive scientific result. I wish to make two proposals to the enquiry as under.

1.  BURDEN OF PROOF

  The circumstantial evidence is strong that badgers are the source of infection, in that no other equally credible source has been identified. So even though the direct scientific link may not have been established, I ask that the presumption should be that badgers are the link, and that the burden of proof to establish an alternative source should be on those who argue against this.

2.  SOLVING THE PROBLEM

  Badger baiting and indeed any equivalent act of cruelty for sadistic pleasure is abhorrent and can be dealt with by legislation which does not involve full protection of the species.

  There are many species of animals in this country which have no natural predators and as a consequence the population tends to expand to the extent that they damage the environment and need to be controlled.

  Examples in this category are deer, foxes, grey squirrels and arguably badgers. Of these only badgers are the subject of specific legislation. Many people who live close to nature think that badgers have been focused on by the animal rights movement because of publicity given to badger baiting (if it ever actually takes place) and the Wind in the Willows. Surely legislation is only desirable where there would be serious harm without it. We suffer from too much bureaucracy.

  Consider what might happen if badger protection was repealed and badgers were left in the same category as other species.

    1.  Badger baiting would remain illegal.

    2.  The MAFF could advise and insist on humane methods of controlling the species.

    3.  Landowners would probably fall into three groups. The majority would accept a reasonable population and only cull if the population expanded to the point of nuisance. Some would protect all badgers and a few might try to exterminate them in local areas—probably unsuccessfully.

  Overall however, there would be a sustainable badger population and all the expense and problems caused by the present unnecessary legislation eliminated. Is it really too much to hope that this could be done?

10 August 2000


 
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