UK badgers facing massive cull, help us stop the killing

A European badger in its native environment. Badger Image via ShutterstockThe British badger is under serious threat after a last-minute court appeal this week failed to stop a UK Government-sanctioned cull. Shockingly, thousands of badgers face imminent slaughter in a misguided attempt to protect cattle from bovine TB.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare strongly opposes this cruel and unacceptable cull, which will see the licensed free-shooting of badgers by farmers. Such a method has never been tested before and we believe it could lead to badgers suffering slow, painful deaths after being injured by inexperienced shooters.

The killings will not be selective so healthy animals will die unnecessarily and the cull could get out of control; potentially reducing badger populations by around 70%.

IFAW is working with musician and campaigner Brian May and other animal welfare groups to fight the cull as part of the coalition ‘Team Badger’. For more information on this visit the Team Badger website.

This is an issue which we know our supporters are extremely concerned about. The culling of badgers will go against the views of the overwhelming majority of the UK public who wish to see British wildlife protected - a Guardian newspaper poll recently found more than 90% of people opposed to such action.

Please voice your opposition and help us reach 100,000 signatures on the ‘Stop the badger cull’ petition on the UK Government petition site.

If we can reach the target, the Government will grant time for a parliamentary debate on this vital issue.

The trial cull is due to take place for a few weeks this autumn in pilot areas in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset. If the Government considers the pilots successful, it will extend the cull to other areas.

The cull was proposed because of scientific reasoning which IFAW and others believe to be fundamentally flawed. Eminent scientists and wildlife experts have stated their opposition to the cull because it will not significantly reduce incidents of bovine TB.

IFAW supports humane and efficient alternatives to culling, such as vaccination of badgers, which has been adopted as a solution in Wales.

Instead of reducing the prevalence of bovine TB, culling badgers could actually have the opposite effect and help to spread the disease further. Elimination of badgers in one area will simply lead others to take over their territory, thus increasing the movements of badgers from one area to another. The use of non-professional shooters may also lead to injured or scared badgers fleeing their usual territory and potentially infecting new areas.

Slaughtering badgers is not a cost-effective way of tackling bovine TB. Even if the cull achieves its most optimistic targets, bovine TB will not be eradicated; farmers and landowners will have to foot the bill and a much-loved icon of British wildlife will pay the ultimate price.

--Clare Sterling

Badger image via Shutterstock.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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