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January 19, 2012

Badger Kill Zones Revealed: Local Badgers Could Be Wiped Out, Warns HSI UK

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • Badgers are threatened with slaughter. Chris Crafter/istock

LONDON—Animal welfare charity Humane Society International/UK has reacted strongly to DEFRA’s announcement today of England’s pilot badger cull zones, warning that local badger clans risk being completely eradicated in these areas. Total badger extermination in the kill zones is a major possibility, warns HSI UK.

Mark Jones, vet & Executive Director of Humane Society International/UK, said:

“Now that we know the likely location of the pilot culls, DEFRA’s persecution plan for badgers is becoming alarmingly real. Farmers and landowners in the selected areas will be encouraged to apply for a licence to kill at least 70 percent of all local badgers. But without knowing how many badgers there are to start with, there is a high risk that badgers in these areas could be wiped out completely. Some of these badger clans have existed for centuries, but farmers could very well shoot them out of existence.”

Environment Minister Jim Paice has revealed that the pilot cull areas are likely to be in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset. However, there will not be a pilot cull in Devon despite it being a major bovine TB hotspot. With DEFRA’s own figures suggesting a mere 16 percent reduction in bTB in cattle at best, and the National Farmers Union estimating that the total cost of the cull will far exceed any financial benefit, HSI UK believes it is clear that the cull is shaping up to be a very costly mistake.

The culls will begin in the late summer, after the London Olympics. HSI UK believes this scheduling is because the Government is anxious to avoid a PR disaster and to ensure sufficient police will be available to deal with any protests trying to prevent the shooting. The Home Office and police federations have already expressed clear concern about their ability to effectively police the culls.

HSI UK has submitted a formal complaint against the United Kingdom to the Bern Convention, an international convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats. HSI believes the proposed cull lacks ‘legitimate purpose’, poses a significant threat to local badger populations and that alternative strategies for controlling tuberculosis in cattle and badgers have not been sufficiently explored.

ENDS

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Humane Society International/UK and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organisations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — on the Web at hsiuk.org.

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