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September 17, 2012

Dismay and Sadness at Badger Cull Go-Ahead as Europe’s Bern Convention Meets to Discuss Possible Breach

Humane Society International/UK

  • A licence to kill badgers has been issued. Stuart Matthews

by Mark Jones

Humane Society International/UK is extremely disappointed by the news that the first licence to slaughter badgers in the south west of England has been issued by Natural England today, for the West Gloucestershire pilot area.

The news comes as HSI/UK awaits the outcome of a hearing today of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) in Strasbourg. The Convention is considering a formal complaint lodged by HSI/UK in January this year, that the large-scale killing of badgers – a protected species listed under Bern – constitutes a breach of the Convention to which the United Kingdom has been a signatory since 1979.

HSI/UK understands that the Bern Secretariat is likely to decide that the controversial issue requires discussion by its full Standing Committee which is next due to meet in November – by which time it could be too late for thousands of badgers.

In pursuing this nonsensical policy, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) appears to have scant regard for scientific evidence, animal welfare or wildlife protection, and is betraying farmers with a bloody and pointless slaughter that will not solve the problem of bovine TB in cattle.

HSI/UK implores the Bern Convention to succeed in protecting England’s badgers where the British justice and political system has so far failed. If it does not, thousands of badgers will be shot, and in some areas badgers could be wiped out.

Last month HSI/UK gathered high-profile support for its Bern Convention complaint. A host of famous names including Chris Packham, Dame Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley, Jilly Cooper and Mark Carwardine, signed an open letter to DEFRA urging the government to delay its plans to allow for Bern to consider HSI/UK’s complaint.

Mark Jones is executive director of Humane Society International/UK.

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