Badger cull extension threatens two celebrity badgers

Fears are growing for two hand-reared badgers who appeared on a popular BBC TV show earlier this month following moves to extend the badger cull on to land near their release site.

The adorable Gnat and Bumblebee recently featured on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s popular BBC2 show Hugh’s Wild West and stole the hearts of everyone who watched them.

The two orphans had been cared for and grown up at the Secret World Wildlife Rescue centre in East Huntspill, Somerset, which rescues, rehabilitates and releases British wildlife that has been abandoned and injured.

After being filmed last summer, the badgers were released in October onto land where a sympathetic landowner keeps an eye on them to make sure they remain fed and healthy. Both have been tested for Bovine TB (bTB) and tested negative, yet both could still end up being shot.

Introduced by the Government in 2013 to reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle, the badger cull has lead to the unjustified slaughter of thousands of badgers. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) recently announced a consultation on the badger cull, including proposals that would affect new areas of the British countryside including land next to Gnat and Bumblebee’s new home.

The League Against Cruel Sports has offered up its support to the Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns, said: “It’s heartening to see both badgers being given the chance to grow up and prosper in the wild and yet set against this, heart wrenching to think that they could fall victim to this cruel and unnecessary cull.

“We are extremely concerned and disappointed the Government is considering an extension of the badger cull into low risk zones in England, and lifting the cap for the number of areas where culls can take place each year.

“Along with numerous independent scientists and animal welfare organisations, we believe the cull is a totally unjustified slaughter of a protected species and we are calling for the shooting of badgers to be stopped.”

More information on Gnat and Bumblebee's story can be found here.

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