We are deeply saddened to learn that the pilot badger cull has begun and that hundreds of animals are now being shot in parts of Avon and Somerset, with Gloucestershire to follow soon.
We remain committed to putting a stop to this misguided attempt to control bovine TB in cattle, as we believe it will not solve the problems caused by this devastating disease.
We are also seriously concerned that the methods being used to kill the badgers are not humane. Their anatomy makes it difficult to shoot a free-roaming badger, and our inspectors and frontline staff are braced for an increase in calls about badgers that have been injured rather than killed, and are suffering long lingering deaths as a result of the cull. There may be other badgers that escape only to suffer agonizing deaths underground.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said:
“It is with a heavy heart that we today hear the news that the first shots have been fired at badgers in the pilot cull zones.
“It is now that the realities of the cull may become clear. As we speak thousands of innocent animals are being culled in our countryside – and we do not know the extent of their suffering or how humane the methods being used to kill them are.
“It is very likely that many of them are lying injured, suffering a painful death. We fear we could well receive an influx of calls to come to their rescue.
“The most tragic thing is that this suffering is so needless. Science has shown that this cull is not the answer to bovine TB in cattle. In fact, it could make things a lot worse. Vaccination and better bio-security are the only sustainable and true ways forward.”
We are braced for an influx of suffering badgers
We are expecting high numbers of calls about badgers during the cull period and have prepared by setting up a dedicated emergency line for calls about badgers; deploying specialist wildlife officers in the affected regions and preparing staff at West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton, Somerset, for an increase in badger admissions as its expected that many of the casualties could be taken there for treatment and care.
We will be doing all we can to rescue any wounded badgers found during the cull and minimise their suffering. We also aim to monitor the humaneness of the cull by careful examination of these wounded badgers, and any dead badgers we may also collect and call on the Government for greater transparency about the methods they are using to ensure the cull is humane.
If a member of the public finds an injured or dead badger around the cull area we ask them to call our emergency line on 0300 1234 999 and press the option for the dedicated badger line.
We urge caution in handling with any badger, conscious or unconscious, as it a wild animal and could cause harm, particularly if stressed. For their own safety people should not try to confine or handle the animal themselves.
Gavin Grant added:
“It is a tragedy that the cull has become a reality but we are more committed than ever to stepping up our campaign to end this senseless and inhumane slaughter.
“We owe it to the badgers and the cattle – who we care about equally – to fight on and we will use every opportunity to support and draw attention to the realities of what is happening in the cull zones and its consequences.”
Take action – Email your MP now and urge them to sign EDM 299 which calls for any decision on a roll out of the cull to be subject to a vote in the House of Commons.
Please visit our badger campaign page where there is further information about what you can do to help during this cull.
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