RSPCA expects flood of calls over badly shot badgers during cull
The RSPCA today said it was 'deeply saddened' a trial cull of badgers has started in Somerset and is due to begin in Gloucestershire.
The charity said it now expects to be inundated with calls from people about injured badgers.
In a statement issued today the organisation also claimed the methods being used in the cull were not 'humane' saying the animals' anatomy and free ranging nature make them difficult to shoot.
"We remain committed to putting a stop to this misguided attempt to control bovine TB in cattle which we believe will not solve the problems caused by this devastating disease or help the cows or the badgers," the statement said.
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"Our inspectors and frontline staff are braced for an increase in calls about badgers that have been injured rather than killed and are suffering long lingering deaths as a result of the cull. There may be other badgers that escape only to suffer agonizing deaths underground."
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “It is with a heavy heart that we today hear the news that the first shots have been fired at badgers in the pilot cull zones.
“It is now that the realities of the cull may become clear. As we speak thousands of innocent animals are being culled in our countryside – and we do not know the extent of their suffering or how humane the methods being used to kill them are.
“It is very likely that many of them are lying injured, suffering a painful death. We fear we could well receive an influx of calls to come to their rescue.
“The most tragic thing is that this suffering is so needless. Science has shown that this cull is not the answer to bovine TB in cattle. In fact, it could make things a lot worse. Vaccination and better bio-security are the only sustainable and true ways forward.”
The RSPCA is expecting high numbers of calls about badgers during the cull period and has prepared by setting up a dedicated emergency line for calls about badgers; deploying specialist wildlife officers in the affected regions and preparing staff at West Hatch wildlife centre in Taunton, Somerset, for an increase in badger admissions as its expected that many of the casualties could be taken there for treatment and care.
If a member of the public finds an injured or dead badger around the cull area the charity is asking people to call an emergency line on 0300 1234 999 and press the option for the dedicated badger line.
The RSPCA urge caution in handling any badger, conscious or unconscious, as it a wild animal and could cause harm particularly if stressed.
For their own safety people should not try to confine or handle the animal themselves.
“It is a tragedy that the cull has become a reality but we are more committed than ever to stepping up our campaign to end this senseless and inhumane slaughter,” said Grant.
“We owe it to the badgers and the cattle – who we care about equally – to fight on and we will use every opportunity to support draw attention to the realities of what is happening in the cull zones and its consequences.”