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August 27, 2013

HSI/UK Appalled as Badger Killing Begins

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • A dark day for badgers. Mike Lane/Alamy

Update, 4 September 2013: The second of the two pilot culls began in Gloucestershire on Tuesday evening, 3 September.

London—As the government's badger cull begins, Humane Society International/UK will continue to oppose the slaughter using peaceful and legal means, while promoting more humane and effective solutions to the problem of bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

Shooting began in west Somerset on Monday evening, it is understood the killing will commence in Gloucestershire later this week. The cull will last for up to six weeks and be repeated for four years.

HSI/UK joins with animal welfare groups, the public, veterinarians and scientists in protesting the cull in the hope the government will recognise the widespread opposition and bring this travesty to an end.

“We are appalled to learn that the mass shooting of badgers has begun in our countryside. This is a dark day for Britain as science and ethics have been sacrificed at the altar of political expediency. Thousands of innocent badgers will now suffer and die in a completely unjustified slaughter that will at best have a marginal impact on TB in cattle and could very well make the problem worse,” said Mark Jones, executive director for HSI/UK. “This cull isn't just about badgers, it's about the disgraceful way in which our government has cast aside scientific rigour, moral accountability and democracy to pacify those who would rather shoot wildlife than modernise the cattle industry.”

Help badgers Act now.

Earlier this month the Information Commissioner’s Office ruled that the government was wrong to refuse HSI/UK access to information about how it intends to assess the 'humaneness' of the badger cull. Since October 2012, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has refused to reveal how badger carcasses will be selected for post mortem examination; what examination protocols and criteria will be used to determine humaneness; and how shot and wounded badgers who retreat underground to die (and will arguably suffer the most) will be factored into the humaneness assessment.

Following HSI/UK's initial Freedom of Information request, DEFRA revealed that it expects some badgers to be shot and mortally wounded but not killed outright during the pilot culls. DEFRA documents show that these animals are expected to suffer extensive physical injury and die from shock, excessive bleeding and starvation due to physical injury. Following the ICO’s decision, DEFRA has a limited time to disclose the information. HSI/UK wrote to DEFRA to ask for immediate disclosure and to delay shooting until the methodology by which humaneness will be assessed could be scrutinised by independent experts. To date DEFRA has failed to respond.

ENDS

Media Contact: Mark Jones, +44(0)7947749475, mjones@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.

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