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September 5, 2012

Badgers and the Bern Convention

Humane Society International/UK

  • Badger are under threat in England. Stuart Matthews

The UK government has drawn-up plans to license farmers and landowners to shoot very large numbers of badgers across huge areas of western and south-western England, as part of its efforts to control tuberculosis in cattle.

Humane Society International/UK believes this policy is wrong. Killing badgers won’t solve the problem of TB in cattle.

Bern Convention

HSI believes it also places the UK government in breach of its commitments to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (better known as the Bern Convention).

The UK has been a signatory to the Bern Convention since the early 1980s. The Convention recognises badgers as a species worthy of protection.

In February 2012, HSI/UK lodged a complaint to the Bern Convention, on three grounds:

  • The government cannot demonstrate that its policy will not seriously disturb badger populations;
  • The government has not given sufficient consideration to alternative methods of controlling TB in cattle, in particular the development and use of vaccines in both badgers and cattle, and the instigation and enforcement of policies to reduce disease transmission between cattle;
  • The reduction in cattle TB cases that the government predicts might result from its policy is nowhere near enough to justify the killing of up to 130,000 badgers, and the impacts on badger populations and the suffering of individual badgers that will ensue.

At a meeting of its Bureau in April 2012, the Bern Convention considered the complaint, and referred it to its September meeting. The Convention’s full Standing Committee will take place in November.

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