RSPCA: Petition against badger cull becomes biggest ever

A petition against the Government’s impending badger cull has reached a record number of signatures, as the RSPCA calls for greater transparency about how the humaneness of the culling method is to be tested.

More than 258,770 people have now added their name to the Number 10 e-petition protesting plans to shoot badgers as a way of combating bovine TB – making it the best supported of its kind.

Despite this milestone, the cull could still begin any day now in pilot areas of West Gloucestershire and West Somerset. According to a government paper published recently, it is likely to be rolled out over half of England soon afterwards. In Wales the Government has chosen to vaccinate badgers.

And despite the pilot’s original intention being to test the “effectiveness and humaneness” of the cull, the Government have yet to make public all the details of how it will be measuring this and how will they decide if shooting is a humane method.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “The public have spoken out once again.

“This has now become the biggest ever Number 10 petition with nearly 260,000 voices against the cull. While this is wonderful, there is as yet no sign that the Government is listening.

“Neither is there any indication that the public will be given any information about how the Government will ensure the badgers are killed humanely, and not simply wounded and left to a slow, painful death.

“We care equally about the cows and the badgers but the imminent killings could mark the start of more than 70% of badgers being wiped out over half the country. In some areas we could see badgers disappear altogether.

“These widespread killings will simply not solve the problems of bovine TB in cattle. The only real answer is vaccination for them both, better biosecurity and control of cattle movements.”

The e-petition against the badger cull was the fastest ever growing Number 10 petition when it was launched last autumn with a record 100,000 signatures were gathered in just two weeks. This has since more than doubled – making it the highest ever of its kind.

The RSPCA is deeply concerned about the humaneness of the free-shooting method which the Government wants to use to kill the badgers. Their muscular anatomy makes it very difficult to free-shoot a badger in a quick and humane way and there is a real fear that many animals will be injured and left to die slowly.

We are also outraged that a decision to extend the scope and scale of the cull seems to have been made before the pilots have even taken place. Earlier this month a ‘Defra bovine 25 year strategy’ was published which detailed plans to roll the plans out to 15 other counties.

The RSPCA has long campaigned against plans for a widespread badger cull for both scientific and welfare reasons. We sympathise deeply with farmers dealing with the problems of this disease and stand ready to work alongside them in finding a solution. We agree with scientists that a cull would be of little help in eradicating bovine TB in cattle, and could even make it worse in some areas.

Notes to editors

Interviews available on request

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