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April 4, 2014

Princess Anne, Horsemeat & Gassing Badgers:HSI/UK Responds Ahead of BBC Countryfile Interview

  • Jennifer Kunz/HSUS

In a BBC Countryfile interview due to be broadcast at 7 p.m. Sunday, 6 April 2014, Princess Anne is slated to make controversial statements regarding England’s badger cull and horsemeat. The Radio Times reports that Princess Anne will say British diners should be offered horsemeat, suggesting that putting a value on unwanted horses might prevent cases of neglect. She will also support gassing as a way of killing badgers.

Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director of Humane Society International UK, said:

“It is extremely disappointing that a prominent member of the royal family should endorse the gassing of a supposedly protected indigenous wild mammal. Gassing experiments carried out at Porton Down in the early 1980s were abandoned because of the appalling levels of suffering to which the badgers were exposed. Lethal concentrations of gases in complex badger sets are difficult to achieve, making sub-lethal exposure and associated suffering highly likely. Any attempt to reintroduce gassing would doubtless result in a slow and painful death for many badgers, and potentially other non-target animals.

“Moreover, the government’s own figures clearly show that badgers don’t need to be culled to halt the spread of bovine tuberculosis. In Wales, the reintroduction of annual cattle testing and other cattle-based measures resulted in a 48 percent reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered because of bovine TB over a four-year period, in the absence of any badger culling. Princess Anne should be better informed before making public statements on such controversial and divisive issues.

On Princess Anne’s views on horses, Jones added:

“Princess Anne’s passion for horse riding is not in doubt, but she’s simply wrong when it comes to horsemeat and as a vet I would urge her to think again. Horse neglect and abandonment continue to be an issue throughout Europe and in countries exporting horsemeat to the EU even though sending a horse to slaughter is already an option.  The documented evidence of horse suffering during transport to and at slaughterhouses in Europe and beyond is irrefutable. And promoting horsemeat could actually encourage neglect as owners are more likely to withhold certain medical treatments knowing that many veterinary drugs are banned for human consumption. Tackling horse neglect is a laudable cause but not one that will be benefited by consigning horses to be killed for food.”

ENDS

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

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