Gloucestershire Badger Cull Extended by 8 Weeks

badger_wx@body29th October

Humane Society UK appalled & flabbergasted at “madness” of Gloucestershire badger cull 8 Week extension, risks spreading bTB

Leading animal welfare charity, Humane Society International UK, is appalled by news that an eight week extension to the Gloucestershire badger cull has been granted by Natural England. The charity warns that prolonging the shooting is the very worst thing the government can do because it increases the risk of spreading bovine TB as badgers flee the area.

Perturbation danger
The extension of the killing period in Gloucestershire more than doubles the original six weeks to 14 weeks. The seminal Randomised Badger Culling Trial highlighted the importance of any cull to be done quickly because of the danger of perturbation.

Mark Jones, Gloucestershire resident and Executive Director of HSI UK said: “I am appalled & flabbergasted that an eight week extension has been granted to DEFRA’s badger killing fiasco in Gloucestershire. By extending culls here as well as in Somerset, the pilots are moving even more dangerously away from the recommendations of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial which were very clear – the longer you subject badgers to this sort of disruption, the greater the risk of worsening the spread of bovine TB among both badgers and cattle. It is utterly illogical to continue with a policy that has already proven such a disaster, and flies squarely in the face of sound scientific advice. Surely somebody in Government can put a stop to Owen Paterson’s badger cull madness before it’s too late.”

In Gloucestershire 708 out of a target 1,650 badgers have been killed. In Somerset 850 badgers out of a target 1,020 have been shot.

HSI UK has also written to Owen Paterson to ask him to explain himself over unsubstantiated claims he made last week about badger suffering. On 10th October he stated in a parliamentary answer to a question from Angela Smith MP that ‘…some of the animals we have shot have been desperately sick-in the final stages of disease…’.

No bTB tests on badger carcasses
Mark Jones said: “As a vet I find Mr Paterson’s claim that badgers shot in the pilot culls were ‘desperately sick’ highly suspicious. I know of no evidence to back this up, indeed all the available data suggests that even where bovine TB is rife among cattle, only a tiny proportion of badgers will be suffering any symptoms of the disease. The figure is perhaps as low as one in a hundred. As Mr Paterson has refused to have the badger carcases tested for TB, he cannot possibly have any scientifically credible data to support his assertion and nobody will be permitted to challenge his claim because DEFRA is having all the bodies incinerated. As usual, the Secretary of State is fond of making wild assertions without providing a shred of evidence to support them but in doing so his own credibility is crumbling day by day. It is not animal groups but the Government this is causing badgers to suffer. It is men armed with rifles and shotguns taking pot-shots at these animals who are condemning many to a painful death and no amount of creative accounting by Mr Paterson will change that.”