Experts hit out at badger cull

Badger in sett entrance
Badger in sett entrance
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WIGAN’S top wildlife expert has spoken out against the badger culls which are taking place, insisting they are not an issue in the borough.

As groups are working to kill the omnivores in Somerset this week, conservation and animal campaigners across the country have expressed their outrage at the threat to wipe out the species.

But Graham Workman, bio-diversity manager at Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, opposes such action and states that as there are very few badgers in the borough, they would not infect cattle with bovine tuberculosis (bTB). He said: “Because of such low numbers within Wigan, we know they pose no threat to livestock and as such, Wigan is not included in the area of cull.

“I take a personal stance against culling because I don’t think other options are being completely investigated. It doesn’t seem right to wipe out badgers. It seems they want to take out every badger because just one can spread TB and we are looking at genocide.”

But he believes that grey squirrels cause more problems as they spread diseases and pose a threat to red squirrels.

He said: “It is a shame the Government does not invest similar research to control the spread of grey squirrels. Wigan is the only site in Greater Manchester that is lucky enough to have red squirrels. The grey variety spread squirrel pox which kill the red species and they also out compete them for food.

“We need to stop red squirrels from becoming extinct.”

Lancashire Wildlife Trust, which covers Wigan, is also against the badger cull and believes the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) should be prioritising badger vaccination programmes and the development of a cattle vaccine, rather than spending £6m on the pilot culls into a major programme of badger vaccination. Tim Mitcham, head of conservation at the Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust said: “It is a real shame because it goes against strong scientific evidence which says vaccination is the way to deal with bovine tuberculosis.

“While the problem isn’t prevalent in Lancashire, there are cases on our doorstep in Cheshire. We really hope Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside can remain bTb free.”