Alex wrote supportively, a short time ago, about the proposed badger cull.
I think Alex's conclusions are completely wrong. The government did sponsor an independent, carefully designed, properly analysed experiment into the utility of badger culling as a means of controlling bovine TB. The findings of the experiment are not equivocal - here is a quote from the abstract of the independent committee's final report:
Widespread ‘proactive’ culling [of badgers][...] achieved by a coordinated effort entailing widespread and repeated trapping over several years [...] caused only modest reductions in cattle TB incidence in culled areas and elevated incidence in neighbouring unculled areas.
So the policy being demanded nearly every morning on Farming Today has been found to have mixed impact on bovine TB, yet we are enjoined to carry out the managed slaughter of a species in order to give the impression that something is being done, rather than because it will deliver the clinical (bovine) results sought after.
Full report of the ISG is here (pdf file).
Two other points in Alex's article deserve a response! He wrote:
(1) that that ministers in this government desperately punt issues off for "further study" rather than ever make a hard decision
-- but isn't this the whole purpose of government-sponsored science? Where there is uncertainty around an hypothesis (in this case, "killing badgers reduces bovine TB") then carry out a designed experiment to assess the weight of evidence to be found in support of it (or its alternative). Why we should be furious with the government is not that it sponsored the study, but that it has ignored the study's conclusions.
(2) that if Kenneth Grahame hadn't written Wind in the Willows, far fewer people would care about this issue
I'm immune to Kenneth Grahame. But it sticks in my throat to condemn a species to death when such a policy, predicated on a hypothesis which has been discredited by a valid scientific experiment, would not even deliver the result that the "users" of the policy (cattle farmers & their customers) desire.