It’s now or never for badgers, says RSPCA over proposed badger cull

The RSPCA is urging action over the proposed badger cull to prevent the killing of thousands of badgers in England.

The Westminster Government’s potentially devastating cull of badgers is set to start in less than three months, despite overwhelming scientific, political and public opposition.

The RSPCA and its colleagues in Team Badger are aiming to deliver the largest ever Number 10 petition of more than 250,000 names. The Government can’t ignore the facts any longer. Plans for a cull are fundamentally flawed and will not solve the problem of bovine TB.

The petition against plans to shoot badgers in two pilot areas in Gloucestershire and Somerset reached a record 100,000 signatures in just two weeks when it was launched last September. It has since risen to more than 180,000.

RSPCA Chief Executive Gavin Grant said:

“Time is running out for the badgers and it’s a case of now or never. It is not too late to stop this senseless slaughter, but if we are going to save them and help the cows we need to act now.

“As plans stand thousands of badgers will die – virtually eliminating them from large areas of the countryside. Yet the problems of bovine TB will not be solved.

“We urge all those who agree with us to sign this petition. We owe it to both cows and badgers to ensure the real action of vaccination against Bovine TB starts now. We are ready to work with farmers and landowners who share this aim.

“Support has already been fantastic and we are not far off achieving the biggest ever number 10 petition. The badgers and cows cannot speak for themselves. We can act for them and in doing so make the UK Government listen.”

The RSPCA has long campaigned against plans for a widespread badger cull for both scientific and welfare reasons. We sympathise with farmers dealing with the problems of the devastating disease, but believe a cull would be of little help in eradicating bovine TB in cattle, and could even make it worse in some areas. We stand ready to work with the farming community to deliver more effective alternatives including the vaccination of both badgers and cows and improved biosecurity.

Instead more than 70% of the badger population in large areas of the countryside, many of them healthy, would be wiped out by these culls.

This view is supported by the public, scientists and MPs, who voted in overwhelming numbers against the cull in a full debate on the floor of the House of Commons last autumn when the cull was originally planned.

Badgers were given a temporary reprieve shortly afterwards as the cull was postponed, but the

Westminster Government has since announced that its ill fated plans will now go ahead in areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire this summer – probably around the start of June. Plans may already be being made for a further cull in Dorset.

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