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May 29, 2012

MEPs Urge Fair Hearing For England’s Badgers

Intergroup Gives Support to HSI/UK Complaint

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • Badgers are under threat. Dirk Freder/HSI

Belgium—HSI/UK thanks The European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals for writing to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) urging it to give serious consideration to a complaint lodged by the group against the UK government’s proposals to license the slaughter of badgers as part of its strategy to control tuberculosis in cattle in England.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England and member of the Intergroup for Animal Welfare and Conservation, said:

“Members of the European Parliament are rightly concerned that the Bern Convention, which was put in place to conserve European wildlife such as badgers, is possibly being flouted by the UK government. Not only would a cull be cruel, there’s a mountain of evidence which shows that it is highly ineffective as a way to prevent the spread of TB in cattle,” Taylor continued. I'd like to see the government investing in vaccination and reducing the spread of cattle-to-cattle disease, rather than undertaking a programme of mass slaughter that lacks any scientific credibility and contravenes Council of Europe legislation.”

Badgers are listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention and as such the government is committed to regulate their exploitation to keep populations ‘out of danger.’ HSI/UK has submitted extensive evidence to Bern officials showing that the proposed badger slaughter would constitute a breach of the Convention. Cross-Party members of the UK Parliament have already demonstrated their support for HSI/UK’s complaint.

HSI/UK believes that the proposed slaughter of badgers constitutes a breach of Bern on three grounds:

  • Killing badgers will not solve, or even significantly reduce, the problem of TB in cattle.
  • The proposed slaughter will seriously disturb badger populations.
  • The UK government is not doing enough to ensure that stringent cattle-based measures to control TB in cattle are imposed or enforced before resorting to wildlife extermination.

Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director of HSI/UK, said:

“Badgers are supposed to be protected under the Bern Convention. The government’s plan to allow them to be indiscriminately shot at night, with the intention of killing at least 70 percent of them clearly abuses that protection. Shooting badgers has already been vociferously opposed by MPs, the public, conservationists and wildlife experts, and we are very pleased to have the support of the European Parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup. The Bern Convention must take decisive action and advise the government that proceeding with this bloody and pointless slaughter will place it in clear breach of its obligations.”

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, +44(0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

Editor’s Notes:

To request a PDF copy of HSI UK’s Bern Convention complaint, email: whiggins@hsi.org

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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.

The Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals is the focal point for animal welfare in the European Parliament. The group invites experts, stakeholders, rapporteurs and members of the European Commission and member states to exchange views on topical animal welfare issues. The Intergroup also scrutinises the performance of other EU institutions regarding their animal protection responsibilities. The secretariat for the group is provided by Eurogroup for Animals, a non-profit non-governmental organisation based in Brussels. Eurogroup has carried out this role since the creation of the Intergroup in 1983 and it supplies a wealth of experience and expertise drawn from its 40 member organisations spread throughout Europe.

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