Tag Archive | hunting

Badger cull: government could be forced to take direct control of pilot

Concern over low number of animals shot so far has led government to seek legal advice on taking direct control from farmers

www.theguardian.com 2013-9-13 23 15 8

The government is on the verge of being forced to take over the controversial badger culls in England from farmers because the low number of animals shot so far risks the policy seriously failing.

The Guardian understands that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has sought urgent legal advice on how to bring the night-time shooting under its direct control, and has even discussed using gassing as a more effective method of culling.

A Defra spokesman, however, denied any discussions had taken place about the department taking control. “There have been no discussions or considerations about Defra taking over the badger cull pilots. The pilots are being carried out by licensed companies and this will not change,” he said.

On Wednesday night, according to information leaked to the Guardian, marksmen failed to kill any animals at at all. This week, the government refused to deny claims that fewer than 100 badgers had been killed in two weeks of shooting in the Somerset cull zone.

The badger cull pilots, aimed at curbing the rise in bovine tuberculosis (TB) which caused 28,000 cattle to be slaughtered in 2012, must eliminate 70% of the badgers in each zone, or risk increasing TB as fleeing badgers spread the disease further afield. But the Guardian’s sources said far too few badgers were being shot in the opening weeks of the six-week trials.

Ministers chose the more difficult option of shooting of free-running badgers at night over the more reliable cage-trapping and shooting because the former is significantly less expensive.

The Guardian’s sources also said the possibility of gassing badgers had been discussed. A government strategy on eradicating TB, released in July included consideration of gassing if humane methods could be developed. Gassing with cyanide was outlawed in 1982.

“The failing badger cull could make the public forest sell-off debacle look politically painless,” a source told the Guardian, referring the embarrassing U-turn on the planned sell-off of England’s forests. “That is largely because every problem so far [with the cull] was first outlined in briefings and advice to ministers and ignored.”

Badgers are being shot in pilot cull zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset to test whether free shooting can kill sufficient numbers and do so humanely. But the number of badgers killed in the Somerset cull zone is just three or four a night, according to a source quoted by the Western Morning News.

“They are having major problems. It is just a case now of who gets the blame for the whole thing failing,” the source said.

The Guardian understands that the total number of badgers killed so far is now more than 100, but is far below the 120-per-day average that would be needed to meet the minimum final quotas across both of the zones.

A spokesman for the National Farmers Union said it was “premature” to talk of crisis, as the cull had several weeks to run, and a Defra spokesman said: “We are not commenting on operational details.”

The Guardian previously revealed that, according to experts, the population estimates for badgers in the cull zones are so uncertain that every badger in the area could be killed and the minimum quota would not be met.

Mark Jones, a veterinarian and executive director of Humane Society International/UK said: “It comes as no surprise that the badger cull is failing in its efforts to devastate badger populations in the pilot areas. This unjustified policy has been a shambles from the outset. The government must abandon this travesty that has already cost farmers and the taxpayer dear and caused deep divisions within our communities.”

The culls have sparked the biggest animal rights protests since fox hunting with dogs was outlawed, with more than 300,000 people signing a government e-petition against the cull. But ministers have insisted the cull is a necessary part of bovine TB control measures which cost taxpayers £100m a year for TB testing and farmer compensation.

Many scientific experts oppose the cull, calling it a “mindless” and “costly distraction” from developing vaccines for cattle and badgers and tightening cattle movement regulations and farm biosecurity.

Jones said Defra was also now in breach of a decision from the information commissioner, who ordered the department to release information under freedom of information rules to HSI UK on exactly how “humaneness” was to be measured and assessed during the pilot culls. He said the legally binding deadlines for Defra to release the information, or appeal the decision, have both passed.

Some information on humaneness was released and reported by the Guardian, including that the sounds made by dying badgers was part of the assessment. But the documents were heavily redacted and the IC ruled this redacted information should be revealed.

Jones said: “We can only assume Defra knows that independent scrutiny would find the methodology to be full of holes.”

Article

Also see: Badger cull in Somerset: on the trail of the marksmen – video

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Cotswold Vale Hunt and the unborn Fox Cubs

POWA Press Released to all national press and relevant regional/local papers, plus national and relevant local broadcasters;-

Unborn fox cubs ripped from their mother’s body as she is torn apart by hounds – Cotswold Vale Farmers Hunt filmed at scene of bloody carnage

On Tuesday 6th March 2012, hunt monitors found the bodies of six fox cub foetuses strewn on the ground in a piece of land which had just been visited by the Cotswold Vale Farmers Hunt.

The monitors followed the hunt all day in the Gotherington area of Gloucestershire, and in the afternoon saw the hunt enter their hounds into a piece of wooded covert near Bozard’s Farm. The monitors heard a commotion within the covert, with hounds baying noisily, and then heard the hunting horn blown in a way which traditionally indicates a kill.

Certain that the hounds had killed a fox within this piece of land, the monitors entered the land after the hunt had left, and to their horror found not only blood and fox fur on the ground, but also the pathetic, bloody remains of six unborn cubs. They filmed the remains on the ground, and then gathered them up and took them to the Vale Wildlife rescue centre near Tewksbury. Here the dead cubs were identified as unborn fox cubs.

These were the Vale’s findings:

6 fox foetuses, 2 beheaded, one of whom had no body retrieved, some partially eviscerated, some with trauma to their bodies, tooth marks and bleeding, some placental tissue remained and one cub was still attached to it with the umbilical cord still present.

Fox fur

A small piece of liver

A small piece of lung tissue.

One of the monitors present said “The hunt went into the covert, and we heard the hounds begin to speak, and then a gruff grunting noise, and then a kill was blown. We ran towards where the hounds were obviously breaking up the fox within the c the overt. We saw a man and woman retrieving something from the covert, and the woman turned and gave a “thumbs up” sign to the hunt followers, as did the terrierman when he left the wood. We asked to see what was inside the metal box on his quad bike but he held it closed with his hand. A short while later we returned and found a scene of carnage.”

The filmed evidence has been examined by experts, but, due to the ineffectual framing of the Hunting Act, the evidence would not be adequate to secure a prosecution of the Hunt. Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA] has repeatedly stated that hunts are blatantly evading and breaking the law all around the country, and has campaigned consistently for a strengthening of the Hunting Act.

Penny Little of POWA said : “Hunts always insist that pregnant and lactating vixens are not chased or harmed by them. This is, and always has been, another of their downright lies, and we now see further evidence of the utter barbarity of hunting. Prime Minister David Cameron is strongly in favour of fox hunting, which he wants to re-legalise. It follows that he thinks it absolutely fine for gangs of people to take out killer dogs to chase. attack and tear apart pregnant foxes for ‘sport’. Indeed, he has recently made it clear he believes that hunting should be immune from the law*.”

The footage has been posted on You Tube.

The Cotswold Vale Farmers hunt is no stranger to trouble. Saboteurs have made several complaints of violent assaults by hunt staff and supporters in recent years and the Hunt have been filmed causing havoc on roads**. Earlier this season, their then Huntsman Alan Morgan was convicted of racially abusing a hunt saboteur and fined***.

ENDS