Charity's 'graphic example' in protest against badger cull
A badger protection charity has released a photo of an animal that was shot dead and found beside a public footpath.
The Badger Trust says it is releasing the image as "a graphic example" of what will happen to the animals during the pilot culls taking place in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
The Trust is stepping up its campaign against the cull, which it describes in a statement as a "misguided attempt to control bovine tuberculosis".
"The Badger Trust has always feared that official culling would be taken as a licence for anyone to kill badgers illegally," it said after releasing the photo of the dead badger, which was found in Derbyshire.
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"There was an entry hole on one side and a vet found an exit wound on the other just where it would be under Natural England’s guidance to shooters for the forthcoming round of killing.
"Mrs Brierton (who found the badger) saw fresh tyre tracks typical of those left by 'lampers' illegally hunting badgers with high powered spotlights and rifles.
"This badger had clearly been the victim of a criminal act. Derbyshire police are looking into the incident and ask the public to report anyone acting suspiciously."
Small pilot culls have been authorised in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire by Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, David Heath.
The Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome explained why he authorised the cull in this week's Western Gazette column.
"I don’t know anyone who relishes the idea of killing that most popular species the badger, despite their decidedly adverse effect on other creatures such as the hedgehog and ground nesting birds," he wrote.
"If there was a satisfactory alternative to the small pilot culls which I have now authorised, then believe me I would have taken it, and I still would. But all the advice I have seen says that is not the case."
"The easy cry of course is to use vaccination," he continued. "As if we wouldn’t if it was that easy.
"The vaccine we have for badgers requires each animal to be trapped and injected, and has to be done on a yearly basis. It is not practicable, and it is vastly expensive.
"An oral vaccine, one which could be used in bait, would be much better. But we haven’t got one yet.
"Nor do we have an effective vaccine for cattle where we can distinguish between an infected animal and a diseased animal, and there is not the slightest chance of lifting EU bans on the sale of meat or milk from those animals until we can demonstrate that is the case."
In Somerset, Secret World Wildlife Rescue in Highbridge has produced a protocol to advise anyone finding dead or injured badgers in the killing areas.
It covers the effects of rifle shots and describes signs that would show if they had not been killed as cleanly as Natural England stipulates.
"It would be particularly important to report any badgers that had survived rifle shots because they should be counted under the regulations and properly disposed of," the Badger Trust statement said.
"The Secret World protocol covers gathering essential clinical data on the spot and the need for photographs, working with vets, the value of x-rays and freezing carcases.
"Examination forms are provided, with information about where to send them.
"Any stored frozen badgers will be collected at a later date and full post-mortem examinations carried out as necessary, in a safe environment, using standardised procedures."