Debates continue to surround the UK’s controversial badger cull and new information that the sounds of dying badgers will be used to judge the humaneness of pilot cull programs in Somerset and Gloucestershire is adding fuel to the fire.
The cull was approved in February to supposedly help stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis, but animal advocates and scientists have long opposed the slaughter and say that killing badgers will do nothing to help stop the spread of the disease. Even where the science is accepted, some believe the culls are still being pushed as a means to pacify some farmers.
Confidential documents obtained by the Humane Society International/UK have added further controversy by bringing to light the fact that those participating in the cull will have no experience shooting badgers and that the sounds badgers make while they’re dying will be used as a method to judge the humaneness of the cull – according to the report, observing an animal’s behavior and vocalizations is the “only method available to determine the degree of pain experienced” while they are dying.
HSI/UK notes that the heavily redacted documents, which were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, reveal for the first time how the cull will inflict suffering on badgers and calls out the bizarreness of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for comparing slaughter methods of entirely different species, including whales and baby seals, to justify the cull and determine how humane it is.
“It is clear why the government resisted answering our request for information. This document provides a shocking insight into the cruel fate that awaits England’s badgers―a dreadful massacre made all the more horrific because it has no basis whatsoever in science,” said HSI/UK Executive Director Mark Jones.
“I am also puzzled by comparisons DEFRA makes to the killing methods of entirely different species. Killing a large whale with a harpoon to the brain, in broad daylight in the middle of the sea, has nothing whatsoever to do with shooting a badger in the chest with a rifle or shotgun in the pitch dark in the middle of a wood. The public has no faith in DEFRA’s failed attempts to justify this badger cull, and people will be horrified by the animal suffering. We must kill this cull, not England’s badgers,” he added.
The document also notes multiple possible outcomes from shooting, which include death caused directly from being shot, death caused indirectly by shooting, which will leave badgers to suffer from infections or starvation due to “reduced mobility,” non-fatal wounds and missed shots. They’ll be using both badgers who are running free and those caught in traps to try all of this out. Previously, only those who were caught in traps were shot, but trapping is expensive so killing free-running badgers was approved.
No one seems to want to answer the question about how many badgers will have to suffer or what will have to happen before it is determined that the cull is inhumane.
Jones also raised concerns over the report not taking into consideration how wounded badgers who retreat underground or escape won’t be counted in the humaneness assessment, reports the Guardian.
Anti-cull campaigners and organizations including the Badger Trust, the RSPCA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare continue to fight for badgers, arguing that the senseless slaughter will do nothing but inflict suffering, while doing nothing to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
Please sign and share the petition opposing the cull.
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