I was part of the Stop the Badger Cull March on Saturday. Seven thousand of us and more met outside the Tate and marched 10 abreast, down Embankment and around Westminster Abbey. Born Free was proud to stand beside our friend Brian May and be part of Team Badger. I watched as Brian and my mother Virginia McKenna as they knocked on the door of Downing Street to make our feelings clear.
Despite the huge numbers it was a well-behaved and peaceful march, united in the depth of our feelings. It was the ‘Best of British’ – caring and compassionate. The badger cull is ill-conceived and totally unnecessary. As Virginia explained, Born Free cares about every individual animal and fights to stop cruelty and exploitation.
“How else can we express our feelings – of outrage and dismay – about some of the decisions taken by our leaders, than by gathering together, walking, and communicating our views in a peaceful way? We are peaceful because ours is the voice of reason and compassion, and does not need to be raised.
I have always believed that we live in England’s green and pleasant land. I have always believed we are a nation of animal lovers for all the right reasons and that we believe in compassion not cruelty, in sanctuary not suffering, in welfare not abuse.
And although I know there are many things we could and should do better, I have always believed that when it comes to animals we were making progress – until now.
If the humanity of society can be measured by the compassion it shows to non-human creatures then, should the cull go ahead, history will judge us to have taken a terrible and unnecessary step backwards.
I do not need to repeat for you the scientific evidence against the cull. It is overwhelming. I do not need to rehearse for you the Parliamentary debates on this issue – they have been massively against the cull. I can only echo the public outcry on this issue – it is well-documented.
I totally understand that the Government wishes to end the seemingly endless and cruel impact of Bovine Tuberculosis on cattle and on the farming community. I want to believe that the only reason they wish to take action is because they want to alleviate both human and animal suffering, not because it is going to save money.
But in my mind, seeking to alleviate the suffering of farm animals and the farming community by inflicting suffering on and eradicating thousands of badgers makes no sense and is morally indefensible. And it is not as if we don’t have a choice – we do!
There are many experts on this subject who can speak at length about the raft of measures that can and must be taken to reduce the impact and prevalence of Bovine TB in dairy herds; restricting the movement of cattle; improving bio-security; enhancing on-farm hygiene, and more. But to elect to cull badgers by the thousand, knowing that the likely best outcome after 10 years is perhaps a 16% reduction in the presence of Bovine Tb, is not only scientific, political and ethical madness, it is surrendering our cattle herds to Bovine Tb in perpetuity.
The real decision, the brave decision, the robust decision, the logical decision and the right decision, is to immediately invest whatever it takes to bring into being a cattle vaccination programme to ensure that in ten years’ time cattle no longer fall victim to Bovine Tb whether it comes from badgers, or deer or from spoor in the ground or anywhere else. Our herds will be safe because our herds will be immune and, most importantly we will not unnecessarily, callously and unjustifiably put to death hundreds and thousands of badgers, needlessly, in the process.
Clearly, the Secretary of State believes that he has no option. I say to him that he does. I say to him that he will earn the deserved respect and appreciation of the vast majority of the British public if he is courageous enough to abandon his stated policy and to work with us – with all of us – to end the scourge of Bovine TV and to save the badger.”
This Wednesday (5th June) is opposition day at Parliament, and the badger cull is on the agenda. This is our opportunity to make a difference. Please contact your local MPs and urge them to act against this unwarranted and unjustified piece of legislation.