Covert cameras placed by the Hunt Investigation Team on vulnerable, unprotected badger setts in the Cumbria cull zone have revealed for the first time the true horror of the badger cull.
HIT’s team has protected badgers in multiple cull zones for many years. In addition this year, in areas we could not actively defend, we placed hidden cameras in order to evidence malpractice and cruelty associated with the cull.
Cameras on one sett have recorded the true horror of a badger being killed in a trap. The badger is shot and takes almost a minute to die, convulsing graphically. Independent vets reviewing the footage have confirmed the badger’s prolonged suffering. The shooters are seen and heard laughing about the kill and the fact that the shot passes straight through the badger’s head. The badger is carried off and thrown in the back of a pick up, without any kind of infection control such as sealed bagging.
Donald Broom, Emeritus Professor of Animal Welfare at Cambridge University, who watched the video, said: “It is likely the badger was conscious and suffering for up to a minute. Depending on where the bullet goes, it may take seconds, minutes, hours or days to die. There would be pain and fear, so very poor welfare, in the period before unconsciousness.”
Caroline Allen, the RSPCA’s London Veterinary Director, said: “Clearly this badger did not die immediately and . . . it is also possible that the badger could have suffered. The guidelines state that the shooter must check that the badger is dead and follow up with a second shot as soon as possible. This was clearly not done.”
This badger was killed in the cruel, unscientific cull. 42,000 badgers are scheduled for execution this year – and none will be tested in advance to see if they even have TB. Thousands of healthy badgers will be killed. They are – quite simply – the scapegoat for the dairy farming industry’s multiple failings in biosecurity and animal welfare. Dairy farmers do not vaccinate their cows against TB because this affects their marketability. Most decline the offer of badger vaccination. Many continue to practice poor biosecurity and infection control.
Bovine TB in Cumbria arose through infected cattle being imported from Ireland and infecting local herds. Any badgers who also contracted TB were victims of this farming mismanagement – not the cause of the problem. The badger cull is predicated on flawed science, vested interests, corruption and greed. Badgers are paying the price for a disease in cattle which is caused by human mismanagement. The UK dairy industry is playing a leading role in this slaughter. If you are appalled by this, please look at alternatives to dairy: better for badgers, better for cows, better for you and better for the planet. The Vegan Society and Viva offer excellent information.
To get involved in directly opposing the cull, please contact the Badger Action Network or Hunt Sabs. They will help direct you to the most suitable group. There is a role for everyone – from direct intervention, to wounded badger control, to fundraising and publicity. Please get active for badgers – they need you.