The League is relieved by the recent announcement that the badger cull pilot trials has been stopped in Gloucestershire after marksman yet again failed to meet the Government target to kill 70% of the badger population on the pilot areas.
The trial had originally been extended by eight weeks in Gloucestershire after the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed that shooters had only killed 30% of badgers in that area and was due to finish on 18 December.
An extension was also granted in the other pilot area of Somerset, after gunmen also failed to hit their target (killing 40% of the badger population). The extension in Somerset ended on 1 November.
League Trustee, Chris Williamson MP, has tabled a Westminster Hall Debate in Parliament on Wednesday 11th December at 2.30pm. We urgently need you to contact your MP and urge them to attend the debate and voice their opposition to this cull - You can contact your MP here - www.league.org.uk/badgerdebate
A number of MPs have expressed concerns about the expansion of the pilots (even those who supported the cull) following the low number of badgers killed. Team Badger have organised a presentation to MPs on Tuesday morning (09:00 - 11:00) in Room W1 before the Westminster Hall debate.
It is not currently known how many badgers have been killed during these extensions. However, one thing is clear; the numbers are nowhere near Defra’s original target figure of around 5000, or even the revised figure of around 2500.
As many of you will remember, the cull was postponed from 2012 to 2013 after Defra announced that there were a higher number of badgers than they had prepared for.
However, the Government announced that the badger population counts were once again inaccurate and so made requests to Natural England, to extend the culls, in order to reach the revised targets, which sadly were granted. The League feared these extensions could wipe out populations of badgers, or even further exacerbate the problem of bovine TB through perturbation, as disturbed badgers scatter to new areas.
In a written Ministerial statement, Owen Paterson, Defra Secretary of State, said of the Somerset badger cull trial that current indications suggest that “free shooting is safe, humane and effective”. The League is questioning how Paterson can make this claim when the cull operators have failed to meet one of the basic requirements of the cull - to kill 70% of the badgers in the area in the agreed timescale. We are now challenging the Government to be transparent and release the documentation on which they base statements such as these.
Yet, despite Paterson’s claims that free shooting is a humane method of killing the animals, he has shockingly revealed that the Government are looking in to gassing badgers in their setts as a method of “removing wildlife”. The gassing of badger setts was outlawed in 1982 after laboratory tests showed the method to be inhumane. Today, anyone found guilty of gassing a badger sett would find themselves in breach of the Badger Protection Act 1992, facing fines of up to £5,000 and possibly a prison sentence of up to six-months.
Although we welcome the news that these trials have ended, we are appalled that so many badgers have needlessly been slaughtered. Despite the highly unsuccessful trials the Government are threatening to roll the culls out to other parts of the country next year. It is now more important than ever we, and all of our supporters, speak out against this senseless farce.
We urgently need you to contact your MP and urge them to attend the Westminster Hall debate on the 11th December and voice their opposition to this cull.
You can contact your MP here www.league.org.uk/badgerdebate
The League, as part of Team Badger, are urgently calling on the Coalition Government to see sense and listen to science, ethics and public opinion which all come out against the badger cull. We will continue our campaign to see this cruel and unnecessary policy of culling badgers dropped – but we need your help.
We need the public to express their absolute opposition to the badger cull so that we can resist a roll-out of the culls to even more areas of the country, as Paterson indicated may be the case. There are different ways to do this, and you can help by doing some (or all) of the following:
• Please contact your MP and urge them to sign EDM299 that has been put down in Parliament asking for the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to give parliament the democratic opportunity to vote on the decision to roll out the pilot badger culls across the country.
• Team Badger launched a Myth busters document on 5th June. This document, which is a culmination of work and research by Team Badger members, refutes the top ten myths supporting the badger cull in England and explains why the cull is doomed to fail. Please share this document far and wide.
• Social Media – Every Monday between 11am and 1pm is #badgermonday on Twitter. So if you have a Twitter account please express your opposition to the cull during this time, and don’t forget the hashtag!
The Stop the Badger Cull e-Petition reached 303,664 signatures when it closed on 7th September. Thank you to everyone who signed.
Visit to the Cull Zone
In a coordinated Team Badger effort, the League visited the cull zone in Somerset this September, whilst Save Me, led by Brian May went to Gloucestershire to show solidarity against the cull with local people and active badger groups.
In Somerset, League CEO, Joe Duckworth visited the camp site where badger cull protesters are residing, met with local badger groups on the ground and went out with the injured badger patrol that evening.
On Saturday 7th September, the League also took part in a peaceful rally against the cull in Taunton hosted by the Somerset Badger Patrols.
NEWS >> NFU Injunction Update
The League supported the Badger Trust in challenging an injunction made by the National Farmers' Union to restrict “persons unknown” from peacefully and lawfully protesting against the Government’s cull. After hearing the argument by the Badger Trust a far more reasoned and balanced order was made.
The final injunction has been amended from the draft and now states that -
(1) PERSONS UNKNOWN, participating in unlawful activity designed to harass farmers, land owners and occupiers and/or otherwise interfere with badger cull pilot schemes.
This means that it only attaches to those engaging in unlawful protest. For more information the Badger Trust have released a clarification document on the injunction.
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