Professor Ranald Munro, a vet who served as Chair of an independent group appointment by the government to assess its trials, claims that the culls caused ‘huge suffering’ for badgers
9 SEP 2019
Thousands of badgers are likely to have suffered ‘immense pain’ in culls to control cattle TB, a former government adviser has warned.
Professor Ranald Munro, a vet who served as Chair of an independent group appointment by the government to assess its trials, claims that the culls caused ‘huge suffering’ for badgers.
Since the culls began in 2012, Professor Munro estimates that around 40,000 badgers have been culled.
Speaking to BBC News, he said: “The numbers are huge, they really are. If you look at the likelihood of not dying within five minutes of being shot, you are looking at 3,000 badgers having suffered immense pain at a minimum.
“It could be as high as 9,000. There is a huge issue of suffering in these badgers.”
Later this week, the government is expected to a announced new culling areas for 2019, and in preparation, Professor Munro has joined forces with 19 other experts to write to Natural England.
The group is concerned at the environmental watchdog’s monitoring of the culls, which has decreased from 20% in 2014 to just 0.4% in 2018.
Professor Munro said: “The terms of the roll-out of the culling have not been adhered to.
“They are saying ‘oh yes, we are observing’; but they are observing at a level which is of no value whatsoever in determining the humanness of culling and whether badgers are being injured or how long they are taking to die.”
Worryingly, a freedom of information request made by the group revealed that in Gloucestershire, the incidence of TB has actually increased from 2017 to 2018.
Based on these findings, the group is now urging the government to rethink its cull strategy.
Their letter states: “We are unconvinced that the culling of large numbers continues to be justified in the view of recent data showing zero disease control benefits after six years of culling of badgers in Gloucestershire.”
Speaking to the BBC, a Natural England spokesperson said: “We help to implement the badger culling policy under the direction of Defra and in line with decisions taken by ministers. We are in the process of reviewing the badger cull applications for 2019 made under that policy and will communicate decisions in due course.
“One of our roles is to independently consider licence applications to cull or vaccinate badgers, and we take policy advice from Defra when deciding if the activity will deliver effective disease control. Licensing is not done lightly and those involved in the cull – farmers, contractors and Natural England staff – take the welfare of badgers very seriously.”