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October 16, 2013

Public Deems Pilot Badger Culls A Failure

Poll shows 58 percent say “no” to gassing

Humane Society International/UK

  • Badgers have been targetted by pilot culls in England. Dirk Freder/iStock

LONDON—As MPs prepare for a Westminster Hall debate on badger vaccination, a new YouGov opinion poll commissioned by Humane Society International/UK shows that the majority of British people do not believe the pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have been a success.

The poll also reveals most would not support the government authorising badger gassing.

Secretary of State for Environment Owen Paterson and other government officials want to extend the cull because marksmen failed to kill the target proportion of badgers. The government has revealed that its original badger population estimates were so inaccurate that the kill target in West Somerset was set higher than the actual number of badgers living in the area. Had the marksmen achieved their kill target, they would have wiped out the entire local badger population.

Mark Jones, executive director of HSI UK, said: “Our YouGov poll shows that the majority of people believe the culls have been a failure. Furthermore, poll results show the majority of people reject any use of gas to kill these animals. British citizens, scientists and wildlife experts remain united against this cull.”

YouGov/HSI UK Poll Summary

"A 6 week 'pilot' cull of badgers recently took place in Gloucestershire and Somerset, during which the government licensed the shooting of badgers as part of its strategy to tackle bovine tuberculosis in cattle. The pilot culls were set up to determine the effectiveness (in terms of badger removal), humaneness and safety of shooting. In the 6 week period approx. 5,000 badgers were due to be culled.

"The companies conducting the cull now want to extend the shooting for a further 3 weeks as they have not culled the target number of badgers set before the cull began. The government has also revised its earlier pre-cull population estimate, as it now believes there are around one-third fewer badgers in the area than it had originally estimated, and has reduced the target number of badgers due to be culled down to 2,600."

1. Regardless of whether or not you supported the badger cull, do you think it has been a success or failure?

15 percent: success
51 percent: failure
34 percent: don’t know

2. The government has confirmed that it is considering the use of gassing as an alternative method of killing badgers. Would you support or oppose the government allowing badgers to be gassed?

3 percent: strongly support
18 percent: support
= 21 percent: total support

26 percent: oppose
32 percent: strongly oppose
= 58 percent: total oppose
21 percent: don't know

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,805 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th - 15th October 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


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

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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