RSPCA slams ineffective cull

The RSPCA is outraged at the loss of hundreds of badgers’ lives in what has proved to be a ‘farcical’ pilot cull.

It has been confirmed that the number of badgers shot during the pilot badger cull in Somerset is well below the target* required, which could potentially make bovine TB in cattle worse not better. Now Defra have announced that they are to extend this cull for a further two weeks.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was asked on BBC's Spotlight programme in the West Country today whether he was "moving the goalposts" by announcing this cull extension, to which he made the extraordinary claim that it was not the Government’s fault, but instead that “the badgers have moved the goalposts."

"The six-week trials were intended as a way of testing the effectiveness and humaneness of shooting badgers as a means of controlling bovine TB in cattle. If they have failed to kill the numbers needed in the set time frame – then surely it can clearly be judged to be ineffective,” said Gavin Grant, RSPCA chief executive.

“Not content with blaming the badger for bovine TB, the government now sees fit to blame the species themselves for this ineffective and badly thought out cull. Frankly this whole situation is a farce. They keep moving the goalposts on how many badgers exist and how many need to be killed, but whatever the figures it is clear that the system has failed,” he added.

The RSPCA also highlights the fact that extending the cull means it will be longer than the period recommended to Defra by a group of scientific experts based on the original Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT)[1].

It was using these recommendations that the current cull methods were developed, so any extension would go against these recommendations and could potentially make the situation worse.

The RSPCA was appalled when the first shots were fired against badgers at the end of August. The charity remains committed to persuading the Government to put a stop to what we believe is a misguided, unethical and unscientific attempt to control bovine TB in cattle, which will not help solve the problems caused by this devastating disease or benefit cattle, badgers or dairy farmers and rural communities.

Despite the apparent failure of the pilot cull in Somerset, there are indications that further culls could be rolled out further and wider.  This could happen early in 2014. The RSPCA is very concerned these plans to extend the scope and scale of the cull will be made without asking Parliament for their views and without all the information from the culls being made public.

The RSPCA is calling for any decision on a wider roll-out of the cull to be brought back to Parliament for debate and to be subject to a vote in the House of Commons.

For more information about what you can do to help stop the cull, visit



* 850 badgers have been shot in the area over the six-week trial, just over 40% of an initial target of 2,081

[1] Note to editors:


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
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