18th March 2018
Subject: Letter to Michael Gove: ‘Why would you possibly extend the Badger Cull to Oxfordshire?’
Dear Michael Gove
You have recently stated that you want to improve animal welfare in this country, and give greater protection to wildlife and the environment.
Why, then, would you risk political suicide for much of your party in Oxfordshire by permitting Defra to extend the badger cull to this (b TB) low risk area?
Theresa May recently held a finger to the political wind and shelved plans for a new Commons vote on fox hunting. Very sensible: almost a ‘no-brainer’. So why would you suddenly agree for the badger cull to come here? Is there a link to the fox-hunting decision, and a need to satisfy the blood lust of a section of the agricultural community that won’t be swayed by inconvenient facts?
Be assured, much larger numbers of people of every political persuasion will be appalled by the prospect of poorly trained marksmen roaming this county’s lanes by nightfall, killing or maiming truck loads of this harmless mammal so firmly linked to our nation’s history.
The benefits to local farming will be negligible, if any, and impossible to prove (from recent research). The destruction will be incalculable, and further tarnish the reputation of a political party whose name hints at conservation, but whose actions are so destructive.
Parts of Oxfordshire, such as Wytham Wood, are regarded as regarded as a world citadel for badgers, who have lived here for thousands of years. Do you intend these will be slaughtered too? Or will they be spared as a sop to wildlife lovers? You are surely clever enough to realise this would only breed anger and cynicism.
While you are relaxing this weekend and contemplating Brexit and all things noble and British, perhaps Mr Gove you would take a look at a poem you will doubtless know well, ‘The Combe’ by Edward Thomas.
Please spare a second thought for this ‘most ancient Briton of English beasts’.
"Badgers are a keystone woodland species and one of the few top omnivores left in the UK. The impact their removal would have on ecosystems is unknown, but could be detrimental."
"Our concerns mean that we haven’t supported rolling out culls to other areas which may affect our properties, including the cull in Dorset which began in September 2015 and those in Herefordshire, Cornwall and Devon which began in September 2016, and we aren’t allowing culling on our land. This includes not allowing it on National Trust land that is leased to tenants"
"Julia Lofthouse, the Mammal Project Officer with the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust says: “We do not believe the shooting of badgers is ever an appropriate way of controlling bovine TB in cattle."