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August 31, 2012

Government Urged to Delay on Badger Cull Whilst EU Bern Convention Considers HSI UK Challenge

Humane Society International/UK

  • A complaint has been lodged with the Bern Convention. Chris Craft/iStock

A host of respected wildlife experts, conservationists, broadcasters and celebrities have written an open letter to DEFRA Minister Caroline Spelman calling on the government to postpone the proposed slaughter of English badgers.

The letter – signed by Chris Packham, Dame Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley, Jilly Cooper, Bill Oddie OBE, Mark Carwardine, Ecotricity CEO Dale Vince OBE, Mike Dilger, Nick Baker, Brian May, Ian Redmond OBE and others – says the government should delay in order to allow the Council of Europe Bern Convention time to consider a formal complaint submitted by Humane Society International/UK.

The United Kingdom is a signatory to the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) under which badgers are listed in Appendix III. As a signatory, the UK Government must ensure that any exploitation of badgers must be regulated to keep populations ‘out of danger’. HSI UK believes the proposed large scale slaughter of English badgers fails to satisfy this requirement.

Whilst Bern has confirmed it was not satisfied with DEFRA’s initial response to HSI/UK’s complaint, the matter is on the agenda for the committee’s meeting in September and it is possible that the matter will not be fully considered until its full Standing Committee meeting in November, many weeks after the cull is likely to start.

Mark Jones, veterinarian and Executive Director of Humane Society International/UK, said:

“The Bern Convention clearly states that controlling badgers must not result in serious disturbance to their populations. HSI UK believes that randomly shooting these shy creatures at night with high velocity rifles must surely constitute a breach of that protection. As a signatory to Bern, it is only right and proper that the UK Government delay the slaughter until the Convention has considered the evidence.”

Signatories to the open letter:

  • Mark Jones, Executive Director, Humane Society International UK
  • Chris Packham, naturalist & broadcaster
  • Ian Redmond OBE, biologist & conservationist
  • Bill Oddie OBE, naturalist & broadcaster
  • Mark Carwardine, zoologist & broadcaster
  • Nick Baker, naturalist & broadcaster
  • Mike Dilger, ecologist & broadcaster
  • Dame Judi Dench
  • Joanna Lumley OBE
  • Dale Vince OBE, CEO Ecotricity
  • Brian May CBE, musician and founder of Save Me
  • Jilly Cooper
  • Gavin Grant, RSPCA
  • Philip Mansbridge, Care for the Wild International
  • Joe Duckworth, League Against Cruel Sports
  • Lorraine Platt, Conservatives Against Fox Hunting
  • Will Travers OBE, Born Free Foundation
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