Ayot’s Betty Badger holds two-year vigil against culling
PUBLISHED: 06:50 18 December 2019
A woman known as Betty Badger has been holding a two-year vigil against culling outside the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs.
Mary Barton, her real name, says the Goverment has had no legal reason to kill 130,000 badgers in the past few years, with 64,000 of the protected species put down during this autumn.
She says she spends every Thursday outside DEFRA in all weathers to raise the profile of "this cruel and unscientific slaughter of our wildlife".
Betty, from Ayot, Welwyn, said: "[DEFRA] will speak about a recent report which 'proves' that killing Badgers works. It does not.
"They have chosen statistics selectively and a more recent report shows that the level of TB in cattle is actually increasing since the killing started.
"It was actually going down in one area before they began to kill badgers.
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"Biosecurity is the main issue along with spreading infected slurry.
"1.7 million cows are moved around the country every year and it is clear that, because of the poor testing regime, perhaps 10 per cent of cattle will be infected with TB so spreading the disease around the country."
The National Farmers Union (NFU) supports the Government's policy to help control and eradicate bovine TB by using a package of measures including rigorous TB testing for cattle, movement controls, and a targeted cull of badgers in the areas where TB is endemic.
"Thankfully, TB is not endemic in Hertfordshire and we want to keep it that way, for the sake of the county's farmers, cattle and wildlife," an NFU spokesperson said.
NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts, who farms in Hertfordshire, near St Albans has cited a scientific report in Nature that badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset showed a 66 per cent reduction in new TB breakdowns in cattle in Gloucestershire and a 37 per cent reduction in Somerset.
"Controlling the disease in wildlife is a crucial element to tackling this devastating disease, alongside a range of measures such as enhanced biosecurity and strengthening cattle movement controls," Mr Roberts said.
"On such a strong scientific basis, it is absolutely vital that the government's strategy is continued in order to see reductions in all areas where TB is endemic."
The Conservative party - who leads the Government and DEFRA - was asked to comment before the General Election but so far the Welwyn Hatfield Times has not received a response. DEFRA has also not replied.