I read your note today about the RSPCA's advert on badgers. It is clearly part of an emotive campaign that they are running as is evident on their website: www.rspca.org.uk and from the letter (below) that they are encouraging people to sign and send to DEFRA. The letter appears as below:
<your address details>
Bovine TB and Badgers Consultation
1a Page Street
Defra consultation on controlling the spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in high incidence areas in England
I am writing to register my strong objection to a badger cull. Based on the latest scientific evidence – from the government’s own research into bovine TB – it is clear that killing badgers may actually increase bovine TB in cattle. A whole range of scientific studies show that infected cattle are the main source of infection in other cattle. The best way to tackle this would be more, routine TB testing of cattle - including before and after they are moved around the country – and strict quarantining of new animals NOT culling badgers.
It has also been claimed that culling badgers would be for the badgers’ own good, to save them from a horrible death from TB. However, most badgers don’t have TB and even those with TB often show no symptoms at all, living and breeding normally. Also, as there is no test for TB in live badgers - only dead ones - many healthy badgers would be killed to find the few that are infected! This slaughter cannot be justified.
In addition, I believe that the various methods of catching and killing badgers could cause unnecessary suffering.
The government has already spent £34 million of taxpayers’ money performing research, which took more than five years to complete and involved killing about 12,000 badgers. This whole exercise will have been a complete waste of money (and badgers’ lives) if – having proved that badger culling is not the answer – the government allows a cull anyway. A badger cull must not be allowed.
There are clearly a number of things that readers of your site can do to counter this blatantly one-sided campaign:
(a) complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - their complaints procedure is explained on-line at http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/how_to_complain/ .
It would be helpful if the text of the advert could be quoted so that specific complaints can be made
(b) complain to our MPs about the RSPCA's behaviour - again citing particular inaccuracies wherever possible
(c) write to our MPs asking them to press the government to prioritise the development of PCR test for bovine TB - for use on cattle and other species
(d) write to DEFRA supporting the badger cull and asking them to prioritise the development of PCR test for bovine TB - for use on cattle and other species.
Warmwell note See RSPCA website for assertions such as
- "Scientific studies show that infected cattle are the key source of infection. "
- "there is no test for TB in live badgers - only dead ones"
- " In the few badgers that do have symptoms they are wheeziness and loss of weight and condition. There may be some skin ulceration." (RSPCA Badger Factsheet "Know Your Facts!")