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August 28, 2015

DEFRA’s Badger Cull Roll Out in South West will be an Unmitigated Disaster, warns HSI

Badger cull will extend to Dorset despite experts warning it’s ineffective

Humane Society International/UK

  • Badgers are under threat. Mike Lane/Alamy

LONDON—DEFRA has confirmed that its badger cull will be rolled out to an additional area despite the fact that two years of culling in existing zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset have repeatedly missed their badger kill targets, and been dismissed as ineffective and inhumane by renowned scientists. Animal protection campaigners at Humane Society International/UK have criticised the decision to extend an already failing badger cull to Dorset.

Claire Bass, HSI/UK’s Executive Director, said: “Both science and experience clearly show that pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucester have been an unmitigated disaster, so rolling this failed policy out to another area in England defies belief.

"In addition to being cruel and ineffective at controlling bovine TB, these culls will cost farmers and tax-payers a fortune – more than £5,000 per badger, most of whom will be completely TB-free. The government has today launched a consultation on mandatory post-movement cattle testing in low risk areas – this is welcome but long overdue. It’s scandalous that while dragging its heels over critical TB-control measures in cattle, the government is doggedly continuing to use badgers as scapegoats.”

Humane Society International/UK has led calls for the badger cull to be ended on humaneness grounds, and repeatedly petitioned the British Veterinary Association to revise its support for culling. In April the BVA did remove its support for shooting free-running badgers at night because it has proven neither effective nor humane. The BVA also stated that it wasn’t confident “that the effectiveness and humaneness can be significantly further improved, despite Defra’s assurances after the first year of culling”. It would seem that Defra has chosen to ignore the BVA’s advice to abandon free shooting for both the existing cull areas and the new roll out areas.

DEFRA is also ignoring scientific consensus that culling badgers is ineffective in tackling tuberculosis in cattle. Failing to meet, or only just meeting minimum shoot targets, as has consistently been the case in the Gloucestershire and Somerset culls, increases the risk of TB transmission as fleeing badgers move into previously unaffected areas.

You can help: Please support our efforts to protect badgers and other wild animals.

HSI/UK appeals to farmers to recognise that killing badgers is not the solution to their cattle TB problem, and could in fact make it far worse in future years.

HSI’s Claire Bass says: “Badgers are not the farmers’ enemy, TB is the enemy and that can’t be tackled with a gun. Presumably seeking to appease farmers, DEFRA is taking action, but it’s the wrong action, and in the long term it could leave farmers with an even worse TB problem than they have now. This policy is severely myopic - it’s time to focus on effective, long-term solutions: rigorous TB testing in cattle, improved farm biosecurity and tighter controls on cattle movements.”

ENDS

Media Contacts:

Shely Bryan, Campaigns Director, Humane Society International/UK:
Telephone: +44 (0) 7710 148 957 Email: sbryan@hsi.org

Wendy Higgins, Communications Director, Humane Society International/UK:
Telephone: +44 (0) 7989 972 423 Email: whiggins@hsi.org

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