The lives of all the thousands of badgers slaughtered in the name of TB eradication have been lost in vain, writes Martin Hancox. The cryptic reservoir of bovine TB is the cattle themselves, and no amount of badger killing will make the slightest difference to the problem. Once we have grasped this reality the solution is astonishingly simple: improved TB testing that picks up all infected cattle.
If we are ever to bring bovine TB under control in Britain's cattle herd, we must begin with the main disease reservoir, writes Tom Langton: the cattle themselves. The insistence on culling badgers has little to do with disease control, and everything to do with the short term economics of the beef and dairy industries, unwilling to sacrifice an iota of production in the interests of a real solution.
Why do we humans resort to shooting, whenever a challenging problem confronts us? Whether it's culling badgers to protect hedgehogs, or renewing the Trident missile threat with expensive upgrades, our species seems determined to upset the balance of nature and harmony on Earth by shooting first - and never asking the questions at all.
Since December 2011, when it became clear that the government was intent on its badger cull, Defra and Natural England have been flooded with FOI requests about how the culls would be set up, conducted and monitored. The notable success of Anna Dale in cutting through official obfuscation has implications for everyone trying to protect the environment and wildlife.
The British Veterinary Association has just launched its long-anticipated Animal Welfare Strategy, writes Mark Jones - and very welcome it is too. But it's also completely incompatible with the BVA's support for England's cruel and utterly unscientific badger culls. It's time for an urgent rethink.
A programme to be broadcast on BBC2 promoting badger culling as the answer to bovine TB is praised in the corporation's flagship Radio Times, writes Lesley Docksey. But both are criticised by experts for their inaccuracy and bias. The main reservoir for bTB is, and always has been, the cattle themselves - and that's where the real solutions begin.
With 29 applications for new badger culls, writes Lesley Docksey, the government still has no idea how many badgers there are in the cull areas, or how many of them have TB. Nor does it want to find out. The badger culling project is getting less scientific by the day - or should that be by the square kilometre?
Environment Secretary Liz Truss told Parliament yesterday that England's badger cull is 'working', and needs to be extended into new areas, writes Oliver Tickell. Yet she and the NFU have refused to release the evidence to back up her claims. Now MPs and NGOs are joining the cry: 'publish or be damned!'
The Government has refused to publish its report on the cost effectiveness of England's badger cull because it is 'still in draft form'. Campaigners say the real reason is that it reveals the cull to be cruel, ineffective and incredibly expensive.
The government is right to extend the badger cull into Dorset, writes Mel Squires in this 'right of reply' article. While culling badgers is only part of the solution of bovine TB, along with annual TB testing of cattle and badger vaccination, it is a necessary measure in areas of high risk.
The government's decision of extend the badger cull to Dorset, and persist with the Somerset and Gloucestershire culls, is 'completely irrational', say badger protection groups - and now they intend to prove it in a High Court legal action, forcing an end to the killing.
As they argue for an extended and intensified badger cull, some farmers have been making extravagant and improbable claims about giant badgers frolicking with their cattle in the sunshine, write Jay Tiernan & Lesley Docksey. But despite holding office in the NFU, they display astonishing negligence by failing to adopt the most elementary bio-security measures advised by Defra to keep their cattle TB free.
English Nature's decision to licence England's badger cull has no scientific basis, write Iain McGill and 26 other distinguished vets in this Open Letter to EN's Chief Scientist. Science Advisory Committee and Board. The body must urgently re-examine the entire issue before issuing any more licences to kill badgers.
A scientific paper published today says badger persecution may be one of the reasons for the persistence of bovine TB hotspots, writes Oliver Tickell. A further finding is that the main risk factors for bTB are all to do with cattle - not badgers at all.
Milk farmers in the badger cull zones hardly depend on Caffè Nero's custom, writes Dominic Dyer. So why are the pro-cull lobby so hot under the collar with the coffee chain's refusal to buy their produce? Because it could force the entire food chain to take responsibility for how milk is produced - and a very good thing too!
In a private letter to Tony Blair released today Prince Charles strongly urged Tony Blair to expedite a badger cull in 2005, raising the spectre of a third 'food scare' that would strike down British farming on the scale of BSE and Foot & Mouth disease.
Organic farmer Charles Mann, aroused by The Ecologist's anti-cull stance, makes an evidence-based case for culling badgers in areas of high TB incidence - together with other measures including enhanced testing in apparently 'low risk' areas that present a high risk of disease spread.
David Cameron has called the badger cull is 'probably the most unpopular policy for which I am responsible', writes Dominic Dyer. But unable to break his pledge to landowners and the NFU, he has left Environment Secretary Liz Truss to fudge the issue until election time. Electorally fatal? So events may prove.
Sneaked out just before Christmas, Defra's assessment of the 2014 badger cull inspired NFU leaders to claim 'success', writes Rosie Woodroffe. But the figures indicate the precise reverse: that too few badgers were killed to be effective against bovine TB, indeed the cull may even help to spread the disease.
Sneaked out shortly before MP's Christmas recess, the Government's decision to 'carry on culling' badgers with no evidence that the slaughter is reducing the incidence of bovine TB is a travesty of process, writes Lesley Docksey. But it does have one useful outcome - it has exposed Defra's claims that the cull is 'science-led' as arrant nonsense. Science never even got a look in.
England's 2014 badger cull has failed to meet key targets for effectiveness with such low numbers of animals shot that TB spread is likely to be increased. But Defra boss Liz Truss insists the cull will go on regardless.
England's 2015 trial badger cull will be moved to summer, writes Damian Carrington - when cubs are numerous and easy to shoot. The surprise move follows 2014's failed autumn culls, which missed their minimum kill targets.
The Court of Appeal last month ruled that England's Badger cull is lawful despite the lack of independent supervision. But on the eve of a fresh Parliamentary debate, and with public opinion backing the badgers all the way, the Badger Trust is the clear winner where it really matters - in public hearts and minds.
The Badger Trust' is in the Court of Appeal today, making its case that the 2014 'trial' badger cull is unlawful, writes Dominic Dyer. But beyond that, the entire culling policy is driven by politics, not science, and is doomed to failure. It's time for Cameron to harness his 'big society' to apply a genuine solution: badger vaccination.