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August 24, 2016

New poll shows public concerned about suffering badgers

Government reportedly gives green light to expand cull to three new counties

Humane Society International/UK

  • Experts and the public are concerned about suffering. Mike Lane/Alamy

Update, 30 August 2016: The government confirmed that it had issued seven new licences for culling badgers, bringing the total number of cull zones to ten, in six different counties of England. More than 10,000 badgers are due to be killed during this year’s culls.

LONDON — The British public have echoed experts’ concerns about the cruelty of badger culls as a YouGov survey question released today shows that 67 per cent of respondents expressed concern at the suffering caused to badgers if the cull went ahead in their counties.

The results of the poll conducted by Humane Society International/UK come as animal welfare organisations across the country express shock and disappointment at news reports suggesting that the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is poised to greatly expand the culling of badgers in England.

HSI/UK is calling for the government to rethink its current strategy after years of research and specialist advice from scientists, wildlife experts and animal welfare organisations has found the programme to be ineffective and inhumane. The policy is also burning a hole in the UK taxpayer’s pocket at a price of nearly £7,000 per badger killed - none of which have been tested for the presence of bovine tuberculosis.

Claire Bass, HSI/UK’s executive director said: “It’s clear the public are quite rightly as concerned as we are at the suffering of badgers. This cull makes an absolute mockery of the government’s posturing of the UK as a world leader on animal welfare and it’s no surprise that veterinary experts have declared that taking pot shots at badgers in the dark causes unacceptable suffering. What is incredible is that the government is apparently on the verge of expanding this cruel policy to three new counties.

“England’s badgers are being needlessly killed as scapegoats, part of a ‘smoke and mirrors’ attempt to appease farmers and detract attention and resources away from an effective long-term solution to bovine TB. In Wales, where the government has rejected badger culling in favour of stricter controls over cattle testing, cattle movement and on-farm biosecurity, there has been a marked decrease in new herd incidents. This is a disease spread primarily from cattle to cattle so it’s only logical that the effort should be put into stopping spread of the disease on farms, between cows.

“This cull is failing farmers, cows, badgers and tax-payers, all because the government refuses to acknowledge that the writing is on the wall. We know that many millions of people in this country care about animals and we need them to speak up and demand an end to this senseless slaughter of Britain’s wildlife.”

Join our #BigBadgerMosaic - add your selfie today!

The British Veterinary Association - which represents the UK’s veterinary surgeons - has also withdrawn its support for controlled shooting because they consider it inhumane.

Professor Alastair MacMillan, veterinary advisor for HSI and an ex-DEFRA advisor, said: “The government-appointed Independent Expert Panel showed that, in the first year, almost a quarter of the badgers shot were extremely likely to have suffered for more than five minutes. Post-mortem reports have shown that a high proportion of badgers shot were hit outside the ‘target’ area of the body necessary to ensure a quick death.

“We are concerned that, in the coming months and years, many more badgers will continue to be wounded in this way and will retreat to their setts to suffer and die painfully and slowly underground. The science is unambiguous and the evidence is clear - the culling of badgers is absolutely causing suffering, and it will make no meaningful difference to the spread of bTB in cattle in the UK.”

HSI/UK is calling on members of the public to show their opposition to the cull by shooting selfies, not badgers, as part of the Team Badger’s Big Badger Mosaic campaign, which includes the faces and support of celebrities such as Joanna Lumley and Brian May. To find out more, please visit: teambadger.org/bigbadgermosaic


Media Contacts:

Laura Quinn, Media and Communications Manager, Humane Society International/UK:
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 31742 185 Email: lquinn@hsi.org


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,048 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 19th August 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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