Independent study claims badger cull was inhumane

An independent review leaked to The Guardian and the BBC has claimed that last year’s badger cull was inhumane and ineffective.

Culls were carried out in part of Gloucestershire and Somerset with mixed success.

In October, Defra reported that just under 60% of the badger population in the Somerset pilot zones had been culled, with early indications suggesting it was safe and humane.

While an extended cull operation in Gloucestershire was called off before Christmas, due to missed targets, around 30% of the badger population had been culled, set against a target of 70%.

It is understood the report states that a third of the badgers culled were shot in the wrong part of the body and two out of nine had to be shot more than once.

Following reports on the findings from the Independent Expert Panel, the Green Party submitted an emergency motion for debate at the Green Party conference yesterday (3 March). It called for an end to the government’s culling policy.

Proposed by the party’s animal spokesperson Caroline Allen, the motion called on Defra “to take immediate steps to adopt evidence-based strategies to tackle bovine TB, such as vaccination and improved biosecurity”.

Allen said: “Results from the Independent Expert Panel confirming the cull was inhumane and ineffective are no surprise.

“It’s extremely sad that badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset had to suffer unnecessarily because Defra and Owen Paterson refused to listen to experts and resolved to plough on, wasting millions of pounds on an ideological crusade against our indigenous wildlife.”

She added it was likely that the suffering inflicted during the cull was worse than has been reported.

“The failure to kill the allotted number of badgers, with less than half the required numbers being killed in the initial six-week period means the risk of perturbation is increased, meaning this cull may even make the disease problem worse.”

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for south-east England, and a member of the European Parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup, said: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that these badger culls are both ineffective in tackling the serious problem of TB in cows and are extremely inhumane.

“This latest study confirms what many of us have been saying for a long time: badger culls aren’t effective at stopping the spread of TB. With many badgers suffering long, painful deaths it’s time the government admitted just how cruel this cull is.”

Taylor called on Ministers to cancel plans for any further culling, and to refocus efforts on humane, effective measures to stop the spread of TB.

“These new figures will add further weight to calls for the ineffective Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, to be sacked,” he added.

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