We have referred to the constraints on badger culling under the terms of the Bern convention in previous posts. Badgers are protected under Annex 111 of Bern, which does allow for population management, or disease control but in very prescribed way.
At the moment it is reported that 'farmers' ( or rather the NFU led by government) are calling for badger culling on a massive scale, to be undertaken by farmers and using ... snares.
(Not in my name they aren't. )
But our reading of the message below received today from the European Commission, Strasberg is that under the Bern Convention (even if we wanted to, and 'we' do not) we cannot use snares. We can use "regulated exploitation" (that's culling in English) but only when it is not detrimental to the survival of populations concerned, including causing local disappearance of or serious disturbance to populations of species under Appendix III- and there is no other satisfactory solution.
To us that seems to mean, only a very targeted cull is available - if and it is a big "if" we have no other satisfactory solution available hence the big push for more cattle testing.
Have government and their 'experts' cocked this up big time? They didn't realise we couldn't do it, have done so now and are now busy promoting "other" options to escape from the problem with out admitting the cock up? It wouldn't be the first time. It's called covering your back.
The only other explanation is the contrived vilification of cattle farmers on the altar of political expediency, and major inputs into several universities to take pressure off the education budget.
Anyway, from the horse's mouth, an explanation of Bern and badger control:
"As you know, the Meles meles is listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention and therefore do not benefit from the highest level of protection provided by the Convention (Appendix II species). Article 7 allows the 'regulated exploitation' of Appendix III species, such as Meles meles, while Article 8 of the Convention indeed bans the use of indiscriminate means of killing for Appendix III species, including those listed in Appendix IV such as snares.
These provisions must be read together with Article 9, which allows for exceptions from Articles 7 and 8 which are "not detrimental to the survival of the populations concerned" and given that "there is no other satisfactory solution".
Together with this erudite piece of information, which specifically says that 'indiscriminate means of killing such as snares' is banned, Article 9 has an absolute gem in part 2 which requires 'the Contracting Parties' to report to the Standing committee every two years. Information required must specify:
* the populations involved and when practical, numbers involved.
*the means authorised for killing or capture.
*the conditions of risk, circumstances of time and place under which exceptions were granted.
*the authority empowered to declare these conditions have been fulfilled, ... their limits and the persons instructed to carry them out.
*the controls involved.
Are you getting the picture here? 'Farmers' will cull badgers using snares? We don't think so.
Our contact in Strasberg finished by saying he hoped we found the information useful.
Perhaps Defra may find it even more useful.