Animal welfare groups react as Princess Anne says badgers should be gassed

Animal welfare campaigners have reacted angrily to Princess Anne’s claim that badgers should be gassed instead of shot to help prevent bovine TB.

Speaking on TV programme Countryfile on Sunday (6 April), Princess Anne said: “Most of the people who did it in the past will tell you that gas is a much nicer way of doing it, if that’s not a silly expression, because of the way it works… and how it works is you go to sleep basically.”

The Princess’ announcement came after environment secretary Owen Paterson revealed the badger cull would not be rolled out across the country due to the recommendations of the Independent Expert Panel from the cull pilots.

Her comments have been met with strong criticism from animal welfare groups. Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor to Care for the Wild, thinks using gas to kill badgers would cause intense suffering.

He said: “The anti-badger cull protest movement is one of the biggest we’ve ever seen, so if Ministers want to ensure it gets even bigger, then go ahead and start gassing.

“Cyanide gas was used to kill badgers in the 1970s, leading to a huge public outcry, and there were hugely controversial trials of gassing techniques using ferrets and badgers at Porton Down in 1982, which led Tory agriculture ministers to demand an immediate stop to all gassing research.”

The RSPCA also showed opposition to Princess Anne’s comments. Head of public affairs at the RSPCA David Bowles said: “It is clear that shooting and cage trapping are neither effective nor economical as a method of culling badgers – but gassing badgers is probably more inhumane and currently illegal.

“Killing badgers will not solve the problem of bovine TB in cattle, whatever the method of culling. Gassing badgers is, quite rightly, not an agreed method of control and we are concerned about the increase in copycat illegal activity should this option be considered.”

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