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August 26, 2014

HSI/UK Deeply Saddened as Natural England Issues Authorisation Letters for Badger Cull to Begin in Gloucestershire and Somerset

Humane Society International

  • FLPA/Alamy

Humane Society International/UK is deeply saddened that Natural England has today issued letters allowing this year’s badger cull to go ahead in Gloucestershire and Somerset. Culling contractors in Somerset and Gloucestershire will be permitted to indiscriminately target and kill between 931 and 1,876 badgers. HSI/UK remains as committed as ever to opposing the inhumane, unscientific and ineffective mass slaughter of badgers, alongside the vast majority of scientists, wildlife groups and ethologists.

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

“I am deeply saddened that yet again, Natural England is authorising the totally unjustified mass slaughter of badgers in our countryside. It beggars belief that despite last year’s cull being exposed as an abject failure, this scandalous killing of a supposedly protected wild mammal is going to be allowed to take place yet again. It is shocking that science and ethics are being swept aside to assuage farmers over a bovine TB problem that will not be helped by the death of thousands of innocent badgers.

“I am appalled that Natural England has seen fit to authorise another cull despite its own chief scientific advisor describing last year’s cull as an 'epic failure', the Independent Expert Panel concluding that it was inhumane and ineffective, and an ongoing police investigation into protocol breaches which may have constituted serious public safety risks. In any other circumstances it would be unthinkable to proceed, but the fact that Natural England has issued a green light demonstrates how deeply political and cynical this process is, and how far away we now are from the 'science-led' policy promised in the Coalition Agreement. The fact that the Chief Vet and the bodies purporting to represent the veterinary profession, of which I am a member, support this process makes me hang my head in shame.”

The cull is authorised to take place under the existing four-year licences which allow six weeks of culling every year between 1 June and 31 January. Start dates for culling activity this year will be decided by the licensed companies. Cage-trapping and shooting can take place between now and 31 November, whilst controlled shooting (targeting free running badgers at night) can take place between now and 31 January 2015.

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

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