I began writing this in response to comments in ‘cull or not to cull’, but decided to publish it as a post in its own right. I have researched, read about and discussed the problem of bTB at length – with vets, farmers, scientists, ecologists, conservationists, people living, but not working in the countryside and those that do, city dwellers and politicians. I could give facts, figures, excellent examples and analogies for and against both sides of the argument. Personally I am, of course, subjective…I have a herd of cattle I care about hugely and are at risk; I also have a passion for wildlife. And I have to make a living from my work.
The question of whether or not to cull badgers is a complex one. It ain’t half as easy as many people make out. Quite simply, it’s not black and white. The science is uncertain, the risks are large, and we are dealing with emotions as well as facts. If we are going to find away forward, it will depend on us being open-minded, listening to each other and respecting each others’ values. Above all, we must be prepared to move our positions, to get off our high horses, to let our eyeballs settle back into their sockets. Far too many of us are entrenched: a position, for or against, has been taken, and that’s the end of it. If we are to get on top of this disease, for the benefit of all – people, cattle and badgers – we must start to pull together, use what evidence there is, consider the practicality of the various options open to us, and reach consensus on the way forward. It won’t be perfect and certainly won’t be easy, but it’ll be the best we can do.