£5,215 per badger? They’re having a laugh. Government figures released last week reveal this was the cost to kill each badger during the 2013 culls.
1,879 badgers were shot in the two cull zones – West Somerset and Gloucestershire – at a total cost of £9.8 million. Wait – it gets worse. Nobody knows how many badgers are infected with TB, but it’s estimated by animal scientists to be between 10 per cent and 20 per cent.
Even if we take the higher estimate, it means the coalition government has spent almost £10million of taxpayers’ money killing just 376 infected badgers, or about £26,000 per badger.
As if that’s not bad enough, there’s general agreement among leading animal scientists that only about 20 per cent of infected badgers ever become infectious. So the actual cost of removing 75 infectious badgers (20 per cent of 376) spirals to approximately £131,000 per badger.
Putting aside the moral question of slaughtering 1,500 healthy badgers to eliminate 75 which may be infectious, as well as the improbability that removing 75 badgers across two counties will make any noticeable difference to TB in cattle, surely even the most enthusiastic cull supporters will now accept that the policy makes no economic sense, particularly as there are more effective alternatives available at lower cost?
ANDY HAMILTON Wessex Badger Guardians West Coker Yeovil