RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant has come under fire for encouraging the identification of individuals carrying out the badger cull pilots in a way the NFU claims is “tantamount to inciting a campaign of fear and intimidation.”

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant has come under fire from the NFU after speaking out against those taking part in next year’s badger cull.

PanoramaThe cull is part of the Government’s bovine TB eradication policy and, although suspended for a year due to poor weather and greater badger numbers than expected in the cull zones, it is expected to go ahead in the autumn of 2013.

Speaking about the plan on the BBC’s Panorama programme – titled ‘Badgers: Dodging the bullet?’ – Mr Grant raised the ire of the NFU when he said: “The spotlight of attention will be turned on those marksmen and on those who give permission for this cull to take place. They will be named and we will decide as citizens of this country whether they will be shamed.”

His comments provoked an angry response from NFU director of policy, Martin Haworth, who claimed Mr Grant’s remarks could cause serious problems if the cull goes ahead as planned next year.

Under fire: RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant.He said: “Gavin Grant has overstepped the mark and in doing so confirmed our worst fears that the RSPCA is no longer a responsible organisation with animal welfare at its core.”

Mr Haworth said the RSPCA chief’s comments “actively encouraged people to identify farmers and those carrying out the badger cull pilots next year without a thought for their safety, their family’s safety or the security of their homes”.

He said: “This is tantamount to inciting a campaign of fear and intimidation which I find wholly unacceptable and completely irresponsible.

He added: “Rather than encouraging the targeting of farmers, the RSPCA would do better to focus its efforts on animal welfare across the board. The majority of experts all agree, a badger vaccination programme in isolation won’t solve this TB crisis, and a cattle vaccine is still years away. In all its rhetoric, the RSPCA has failed to come up with a single workable solution to dealing with this terrible disease.”

Panorama image © BBC
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