An online petition calling on the Government to halt the pilot badger cull has seen “a marked rise” in signatures since the trials began on August 27 to assess the effectiveness and humaneness of free shooting badgers.
An online petition calling on the Government to halt the pilot badger cull has exceeded 300,000 signatures since the trials began on August 27 to assess the effectiveness and humaneness of free shooting badgers.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), there was a marked rise in the number of people signing the Number 10 e-petition after the pilot culls began in areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire.
The petition – which gathered a record 100,000 signatures in just two weeks when launched last autumn by Queen guitarist Brian May CBE – closed on September 7 with a final total of 303,771 signatures.
It became the biggest ever on the Government’s website when it passed 258,000 signatures in July 2013. Since then, an additional 45,000 people have signed up to protest the use of free shooting as a method of controlling bovine TB.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “We are not surprised that so many have flocked to sign their name in opposition to this misguided cull and it shows the strength of public opinion against it.
“As the first shots have been fired against the badgers, the public have been faced with the sad reality of what it actually means. Huge numbers of badgers are dying – probably in their thousands – and yet science has shown that this will make little difference to bovine TB in cattle.”
The RSPCA also has “serious concerns” that the methods being used to kill the badgers are not humane, arguing that their anatomy makes it difficult to shoot a free-roaming badger and they could be injured rather than killed outright.
Mr Grant said: “The cattle deserve a long-term sustainable solution to this devastating disease which we believe is vaccination and better biosecurity – and the badgers do not deserve to be sacrificed for no real gain.”
According to Mr Grant, the RSPCA remains committed to putting a stop to this misguided attempt to control bovine TB in cattle, which it believes will not solve the problems caused by this devastating disease but could, in fact, make the problems worse.