Poll shows divided public opinion on badger culling
PUBLIC opinion over the merits of badger culling to control bovine TB appears to be fairy evenly split, according to a poll commissioned by an organisation campaigning against the policy.
A YouGov poll commissioned by Humane Society International UK showed well under half of respondents actively opposed the policy.
Asked whether they ‘support or oppose the cull of badgers to try and reduce TB in cattle’, 31 per cent of respondents said they were in favour, while 40 per cent were against. The remaining 29 per cent had no view either way.
In terms of individual categories, support for the policy was greatest among Conservative voters (43 per cent), males (39 per cent), people over 60 (34 per cent) and, perhaps surprisingly, Londoners (37 per cent) out of five regions surveyed.
The poll of more 1,500 people also showed the public was overwhelmingly in favour of developing badger and cattle vaccines (60 per cent) as ‘government’s main focus to reduce the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle’.
Twelve per cent selected a ‘controlled cull’, while the same proportion chose ‘limiting the movement of cattle herds and reforming cattle farming’.
The poll was published to coincide with a Westminster demonstration to highlight HSI UK’s complaint that the proposed English badger cull would breach the Bern Convention on wildlife conservation.
The animal protection charity is basing its claim on three main grounds, including that it poses a ‘significant threat’ to local badger populations and that ‘alternative strategies for controlling TB in cattle and badgers have not been sufficiently explored’.
Conservationist Bill Oddie, who joined the protest, alongside MPs including Shadow Defra Secretary Mary Creagh and groups like the Badger Trust and League Against Cruel Sports, said: “There is an appalling bloody-minded arrogance about the government’s decision. Opposition to the cull is not based on sentimentality, but on the fact that a great deal of thorough research suggests that it won’t work.”
But NFU chief farm policy adviser John Royle said the policy has been specifically designed to comply with the Bern convention, regarding the impact on local badger populations.