Hundreds of people have been protesting against badger culling in Gloucestershire.
About 500 people joined the Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting demonstration in Gloucester city centre.
Pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset were aimed at limiting the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB).
Earlier this month Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the pilots would continue.
‘Recipe for disaster’
Organiser Carol Cook said the number of people who turned out to demonstrate shows “it is not acceptable for an industry to be killing our wildlife”.
She said they were “sympathetic” towards farmers, but added that the “industry needs to look at its own practices” and improve “bio-security in the farmyards themselves” to stop the spread of the disease.
“It isn’t us against the farmers at all – everyone can work together to stop this awful disease,” she said.
Conservationist Ian Redmond said most badgers do not have the disease and culling is a “recipe for disaster, not for curing the disease”.
The end of the hunting season this spring coincided with the news that the badger cull would continue this summer in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Due to the conditions of the licence, we’re expecting the cull zones to be the same areas as last year and that the licence will allow them to start killing from 1st June onwards. With experience to learn from from last year, we’re more prepared this time round to get involved against the cull.
This is a shout out to anyone in the area to come and help us with sett-surveying. This is basically walking around an area looking for new setts and checking on ones we knew of last year. Sett locations will have changed due to the cull, perturbation, the winter, the floods and now badgers are becoming more active again with cubs running around, setts which looked inactive may now appear to be used again.
It is important that we manage to cover the cull zone prior to the cull starting as we need to know the location of the setts in order to protect them from the cull operators. We understand that not everyone is local enough, has enough time off work or money to help out, but if you are able to come down (we can help with fuel money to an extent) please do so. Contact us through email and we can pass you on to the relevant people. Gloucestershire Badger Office (who will be coordinating the work before and during the cull in order to avoid duplication of work and areas being left unchecked) now have a facebook page (open to the public)
and a phone number – same as the one used last year – 07582 607913 – with a landline number being confirmed soon.
People are also needed to help with admin and fundraising especially as we’ll be helping out other groups coming into the zone which will be a huge drain on our finances. Information stalls in town can be a great help to promote the work we’re doing and spread information regarding hunts and the cull as well as related campaigns. If you think you’d be able to do a car-boot sale, fundraising event, stall or be able to get into the zone before or during the cull, please do let us know. There will be something for everyone, regardless of ability, age, experience and so on.
An independent scientific assessment of last year’s pilot badger culls in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset has concluded that they were not effective.
Analysis commissioned by the government found the number of badgers killed fell well short of the target deemed necessary, the BBC understands.
And up to 18% of culled badgers took longer than five minutes to die, failing the test for humaneness.
The pilot culls were intended to limit the spread of TB in cattle.
They were carried out to demonstrate the ability to combat bovine TB though a controlled reduction in the population of local badgers.
“We have always stated that if the pilots were to fail on humaneness then BVA could not support the wider roll out of the method of controlled shooting”
Robin Hargreaves, President, British Veterinary Association
Contracted marksmen, paid for by farming groups, were employed to shoot the animals at night.
The Independent Expert Panel was appointed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to help ministers evaluate the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the Gloucestershire and Somerset pilots.
Prof Rosie Woodroffe, a scientist at the Zoological Society of London, said that the panel’s “findings show unequivocally that the culls were not effective and that they failed to meet the humaneness criteria.
“I hope this will lead to the Secretary of State (Owen Paterson) to focus on other ways of eradicating TB in cattle,” she told BBC News.
Robin Hargreaves, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said it was the BVA that had taken a lead in calling for the controlled shooting to be tested and critically evaluated before it was rolled out.
“We are unable to comment in detail on the findings of the IEP until we have seen the report,” he told the BBC. “But if these figures are true then they would certainly raise concerns about both the humaneness and efficacy of controlled shooting.
“We have always stated that if the pilots were to fail on humaneness then BVA could not support the wider roll out of the method of controlled shooting.”
The pilots were authorised by Defra and licensed by Natural England.