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Welsh writer, and environmental activist, John Evans, author of The Red Kite in Wales, gives his views on the Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to cull badgers.




The Killing Fields of Wales

I am proud of my country, Wales. I am proud of it's history, it's language, it's culture, it's landscape – from the rocky mountains of Snowdonia in the north, to the green valleys and sandy coastlines of the south.

I am proud of it's wildlife, like foxes, hares, weasels, polecats, and of course, badgers. I am proud of the fact that birds and animals, like the red kite and polecat, found refuge in Wales when they were persecuted to the point of extinction in many other areas of the UK. I am proud of all those people from Wales, like William Condry and R.S. Thomas, who devoted their life to preserving these endangered species, and helped them to survive and flourish so that we are all able to enjoy them today. I am proud that people travel to my country just to experience it's beautiful wild places and to have an opportunity to see such a wide diversity of birds and animals.

I am Welsh, and proud of it. Yet, I am deeply ashamed of the Welsh Assembly Government, who seemingly ignored a large amount of scientific opinion (and even the findings of the Westminster Government's own five year study), turned a deaf ear to world famous environmentalists like Sir David Attenborough, chose not to wait for the results of the Judicial Review initiated by the Badger Trust, and instead, have taken the outrageous decision to instigate the slaughter of thousands of badgers in Wales.

The WAG somewhat ambiguously use the “cull”, but this is merely a euphemism, a play with words, for what in reality is a five year plan for the total extermination of a species from a very large part of Wales. If they have their way, when they are finished, there won’t be any badgers...none at all...within the area. Think about it for a moment; is there any way this could be considered to be the responsible action of a Government in present day Britain? No, it is what it is, an act of horrific barbarity; a heinous crime against nature; the mass murder of a species which up until now has rightly been protected by the laws of the land.

I am convinced, if they are allowed to carry out their plan, future generations will look back in horror at the actions of these politicians, and also wonder why on earth they were allowed to get away with it.

Of course this decision is a result of pressure from the farming lobby. It would be easy just to blame the farmers, but abandoned by successive Government's they face financial hardship and as a result they are looking for, what they see as, an easy solution to the problem of bovine TB. We must lay the blame firmly at the feet of Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, and the coalition of mainly Tory, Plaid Cymru and Labour AM's who support her decision.


(John Evans at the Badger Rally outisde WAG building, Cardiff)

In the Twenty-First Century, it seems everyone needs a scapegoat. The name of the game is to blame someone. Anyone. Anyone, will do. Someone to blame for all the problems, all the ills, of the world. Sadly it appears that the Welsh Assembly Government have decided to solely blame badgers for bTB infection in cattle.

Bovine TB. Yes, there's a problem. So, it seems we must find a scapegoat – and, preferably one that won't cost much to deal with. Vaccinate cattle (DEFRA themselves said that this was “the best prospect for control of TB in the British herd”)? No, too expensive. Vaccinate badgers? Again, too expensive. And, anyway, they are only badgers; just animals; they don't vote, and they are hardly able to voice their opposition, are they? OK, so let's blame the badgers then; they are an easy target, they've got no voice, they are weak, they are vulnerable, and they will be cheap to deal with - "we'll just shoot 'em all". Yes, they have all the perfect credentials for being a scapegoat!

"They will be turning the beautiful landscape of Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion into the killing fields of Wales!"


The Welsh Assembly Governments decision to carry out the slaughter of badgers is both an act of unspeakable cruelty and also one of monumental stupidity. They will be turning the beautiful landscape of Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion into the killing fields of Wales!

These are areas which contain National Parks. These are areas rich in wildlife. These areas sell themselves to the tourist market as places of quiet, unspoiled, rural charm, but who is going to want to wander in the countryside, walk the coastal paths, or sit in one of the hotels to look at the view, when all the time they are going to know that in one of those fields, on one of those hills or mountains, badgers are being shot in their thousands!?

The WAG say that tourism is big business with tourists spending £3 billion in Wales per year. Are the WAG's 'Visit Wales' team going to mention to potential holiday makers that, virtually on the doorsteps of many of Wales' country hotels, guesthouses, camping sites and caravan parks, badgers will be being butchered on mass in the holiday season of 2010?

I firmly believe that the WAG decision will have a catastrophic impact on Wales' image throughout the world, and significantly damage it's economy. Tourism, I feel, is going to be particularly effected – I know I wouldn't want to holiday in a country engaged in such a barbaric act, I believe others will feel the same.


(Illustration by Save The Badger supporter and artist, Marita Forss, from John Evans' latest book, The Acid Real)


On the internet, social networking sites, blogs, chatrooms, and forums are already buzzing with talk from people (from throughout the UK and wider world) who are furious at the WAG’s decision to kill badgers – a large number of these are also already calling for a total ban on Welsh farm products in response to the role of the farmers lobby and NFU in pushing for this action to be carried out.


"There is no doubt, Wales' image has already been damaged significantly. The Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to exterminate badgers places them alongside Canada with their seal cull and Japan and Iceland with their whaling, and may well result in Wales also becoming an international pariah in the eyes of many conservationists and environmentalists.... the blood of badgers is going to be on their hands – the blood of badgers is going to stain the green fields of Wales, literally and metaphorically, for many years to come!"


There is no doubt, Wales' image has already been damaged significantly.

The Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to exterminate badgers places them alongside Canada with their seal cull, Japan and Iceland with their whaling, and may well result in Wales also becoming an international pariah in the eyes of many conservationists and environmentalists.

Apparently, the Welsh Assembly Government's plan is to trap all the badgers, then put them in cages so they can be blasted with guns. I also hear they want to use cages which have a special flooring to try to catch the bodily fluids of each badger. Well, I'm sorry to tell them, whatever they try, whatever method they deploy to in an attempt to tell the public that this slaughter is some kind of unmessy and painless act, the blood of badgers is going to be on their hands – the blood of badgers is going to stain the green fields of Wales, literally and metaphorically, for many years to come!

In a rather pathetic attempt to try to play to the public and appear somehow caring, these politicians have also said they will commence the slaughter once the breeding season is over. Are we supposed to think that they are nice, warm, cuddly, people because in an act of total hypocrisy they are going to wait for badgers to be a few months old before they butcher them? Have they ever heard the distress call of a badger? Have they ever seen a young badger? Have they ever seen a badger, of any age, anywhere? Would they be willing to sit and listen to the anguished cries of separation between a mother badger and her cubs when either are trapped in a cage over night, before being shot in the morning? I doubt if any of them have have ever had any real personal contact with badgers –  too comfortable in their new fancy building in Cardiff, I guess, to experience the wonder and joy of seeing these beautiful animals – yet they are willing to unmercifully destroy them on mass.

Mahatma Ghandi once said a nation and it's greatness can be judged by the way it treats it's animals - well what does that say about the kind of Wales these Welsh Assembly politicians want to create!?

Too date, this Welsh Assembly Government has made very few decisions that have caught the attention of the wider world. Two in particular have brought them the most attention. Firstly, there was the destruction of Shambo, a holy cow which belonged to a group of Buddhist monks, and now they have once again achieved infamy by ordering the destruction of thousands of badgers. Are these the kind of politicians we really need, or want?

Even the Westminster Government has resisted pressure from the farmers lobby, and Secretary of State, Hillary Benn, has listened to scientific opinion and refused to cull badgers. It is shocking to know that the Welsh Assembly Government’s treatment of badgers is in total contrast to the policy in England, where there are plans for badgers to be vaccinated against bovine TB in six pilot areas.

The Welsh Assembly’s planned cull of badgers is unscientific, unethical and unworkable.

And, lets not forget for one second that those who currently hold high office in the Welsh Assembly Government regard this as a “test”, a “pilot scheme”, and so, presumably, if they judge it to be “a success” they then intend carrying out the mass slaughter of badgers throughout Wales.

Can we really allow this to happen!?

"The Welsh Assembly’s planned cull of badgers is unscientific, unethical and unworkable....We cannot allow them to carry out the mass extermination of a native species, we cannot allow them to carry out acts of cruelty to these animals, and we cannot allow them to damage the reputation of Wales any further."

I am proud of my country. I am proud of the badgers that live near me and how, against all the odds, they manage to survive – even somehow getting through harsh winters like we've just experienced. I am not proud that these politicians hold office here - not one bit!

These are our badgers. They live in our country, Wales – quietly going about their business while giving joy to anyone who encounters them. We have a duty of responsibility to protect these animals from acts of cruelty, just as we would for any vulnerable person living in our community. If any badgers here have actually been unfortunate enough to catch bovine TB from cattle, they also deserve to be vaccinated – just like in England – not shot. Let’s don’t forget this is bovine TB, it’s the cattle that are spreading the disease, not the badgers who are largely sedentary and remain close to their setts. The WAG would do far better if they enforced better regulations for the control of cattle in order that they can be less at risk from spreading the disease amongst themselves. We simply cannot let our badgers be made scapegoats by these politicians.

I feel the Welsh Assembly Government are bringing great shame on our land. I know the people of Wales are proud of their native animals and birds, like the Red Kite and Badger, and I'm sure many will share my horror at the actions of these politicians. Let's join together to defeat them. We simply cannot allow them to carry out the mass extermination of a native species, we cannot allow them to carry out acts of cruelty to these animals, and we cannot allow them to damage the reputation of Wales any further.

Save the badger! Arbed y broch! Stop the slaughter!

(Please feel free to quote from John Evans' feature)

 

ON THIS SITE

With the Welsh Assembly Government declaring that they intend carrying out the mass slaughter of Badgers within the next few months, time is of the essence. All those who oppose their actions need to start talking to each other. We need to join together. We need to plan a a coordinated response. And, we need to do that now!

Save The Badger was set up as an umbrella group to coordinate the campaign against the Welsh Assembly Government's plan to slaughter badgers by the thousand in Wales in early 2010. It will of course also fight any similar plans by the Westminster government or any of the other devolved powers in the UK.

Please take the time to look through the pages on our site.

 We will try to bring you any up to date information and news which is of particular relevance – if you want more general information, please go to one of the other sites where you will find a lot of background information.

We will also periodically feature the views and opinions of prominent individuals who oppose the WAG decision. We begin with a piece by Welsh writer and environmental activist, John Evans. This is a must read!

Don't forget, we want to hear your news, and we also want you views. We must unite together to fight this premeditated act of barbarity.

Please contact us by clicking the link at the side of the page.

Message from Brian May:

"To all those who have pledged their time and energy to fighting for justice for Badgers in Wales. I wanted to pledge my support for the campaign you are fighting, to overthrow a decision which is so obviously wrong, it defies understanding. The disease at the centre of this appalling tragedy is called Bovine TB. The history of the establishment of this virus in populations of Cattle in the British Isles is well documented. It did NOT, of course come from Badgers (or it would presumably have been called "Badger TB") - it was allowed to flourish because of intensive farming methods, and was spread around the UK by farmers moving cattle around to maximise the profit that could be made from them when they were slaughtered. Badgers were infected by the cattle, entirely innocent of any wrong-doing except being in the vicinity of these diseased farm animals. The only scientific study of the control of the disease concluded that the slaughter of badgers did NOT achieve control of Bovine TB. This is not guesswork…thousands of badgers died to prove this fact. To go ahead now and start murdering these innocent creatures goes against any logic, and is an act of madness and cruelty. We simply do not have the right to slaughter animals who have just as much right to live in our country as we do. In the name of justice, reason and human kindness, this decision must be swept away. The recent economic melt-down has reminded what happens when we make decisions based only on making profits, and in this case, it has been shown that this course of action does not even make sense economically. Hilary Benn was able to make the informed and humane decision for England - to proceed towards inoculating both badgers and Cattle. It's time for the people of Wales to demand that this appalling decision be thrown out...and demand decency. Wales does not need to go forward over the dead bodies of these precious native creatures. All power to you, who care." Brian May, 4th March, 2010

“We must not make badgers scapegoats for bovine TB”. Joanna Lumley

"I say no to this or any other badger cull and I urge all caring people to do the same. Get rid of ignorance, not badgers.” Benjamin Zephaniah

 

 

 

OTHER ORGANISATIONS AND NOTABLE FIGURES AGAINST THE CULL
 

 

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