RSPCA deeply concerned as cull extended to Gloucestershire

Senseless slaughter continues

The RSPCA is appalled after learning that hundreds of badgers are now being shot in parts of Gloucestershire as well as Somerset as part of the pilot badger culls.

The cull may have started but we remain committed to persuading the Government to put a stop to this misguided, unethical and unscientific attempt to control bovine TB in cattle, which we believe will not help solve the problems caused by this devastating disease or benefit cattle, badgers or dairy farmers and rural communities.

We have grave concerns that the methods being used to kill the badgers are not humane. Their anatomy makes it difficult to shoot a free-roaming badger, and we fear badgers may be injured rather than killed and could be 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: “We have real doubts about how humane the methods being used to kill the badgers are – and it is very possible that many of these iconic British mammals could be suffering, seriously injured, rather than killed.

"Consequently, we are paying very close attention to the way the cull is being conducted and will investigate any reports of breaches of the licence where badgers suffer.

"We also fear that some may take the law into their own hands by killing badgers under the cover of the cull. This is a criminal offence and we will work with the police to bring such individuals to justice".

The scientific and public opposition to the cull is growing.  The Stop the Cull e-petition on the Government website is the highest ever and RSPCA Vice-President Brian May's Badger Badger Badger song is climbing fast in the charts.

The RSPCA is expecting high numbers of calls about badgers during the cull period and has 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. It is important to remember that if the badger is alive, whether conscious or unconscious, it can cause injury to people and should be treated with caution. For their own safety people should not attempt to confine or handle any badgers themselves.

Please see www.rspca.org.uk where there is further information about what you can do to help during this cull.

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RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288  Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: press@rspca.org.uk  Website: www.rspca.org.uk

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