Latest figures reveal over 10,000 badgers were killed in this year’s controversial badger cull

Friday, 16 December, 2016
London, UK

The Government today released latest figures from this year’s controversial badger cull. A total of 10,866 badgers were killed by Government contractors in what leading scientists, animal welfare groups and members of the public deem a pointless exercise in the attempt to eradicate Bovine Tb. This number falls just within this year’s target of 9847 to 14,213.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) remains totally opposed to the needless killing and like many leading organisations were dismayed that despite overwhelming failure in previous years, this year the Government pressed ahead with their roll out plans, expanding the cull into an additional five counties alongside the previous culling areas of Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset.                                                                                                      

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Once again the lives of countless native badgers are reduced to just a headline number and this year it amounts to a staggering 10,886 badgers pointlessly slaughtered, falling just within the Government’s target for the year. The simple fact is though, that the Government targets are irrelevant; everyone knows that killing badgers can have no meaningful effect on the control of Bovine Tb (BTb) in the UK. Year on year, the Government remains determined to press ahead with this pointless cull regardless of the results or the wealth of scientific evidence that goes against this policy. As a nation we cannot sit by and let yet more of our native badgers be pointlessly killed.

“If the Government truly cared about farmers’ livelihoods they would stop making the badger a scapegoat for their previous failings in eradicating and managing Bovine Tb. It is a fact that if we killed every single badger in the UK we would still have BTb, so it’s time to refocus the huge amount of money and resource involved in this mass slaughter of badgers each year and concentrate on practical solutions for better testing regimes, enhanced bio-security measures and stricter cattle movement controls.”

One of the key controversies of the badger cull methodology is that instead of reducing the prevalence of bovine TB, culling badgers could help to spread the disease further as elimination of badgers in one area simply results in others moving in to take over their territory, known as perturbation.

The continued authorisation of the free shooting method of killing, despite initial Government reports deeming this inhumane, is also of deep concern. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) have been vocal on this issue and condemned this approach. The figures released today report that a total of 14 badgers were wounded and lost and 34 shots were fired but missed. However, it is worth noting that these figures are self-reported and also vary dramatically from region to region, suggesting either a varying quality of shooters or a varying quality of reporting.

The Government policy on badger culling makes a mockery of due diligence and proper procedure, as it uses a procedure that has already clearly failed as justification to repeat activities which should be stopped. This proves this is not a science-led policy, but politically motivated and designed to secure support from powerful lobbies like the National Farmers Union (NFU) and rural voters.

IFAW believes that the solution to the bovine TB crisis does not lie in targeting wildlife, but in working with the farming community and focusing directly with cattle, which caused the epidemic.

IFAW has previously funded badger vaccination programmes in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset. The badger cull goes against the views of the overwhelming majority of the UK public who wish to see British wildlife protected. A Guardian newspaper poll found more than 90% of people opposed to such action.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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