. As if the badger cull wasn’t cruel and unnecessary enough, some people are going out of their way to kill them in awful ways.
Yesterday, David Merton Raymond Bown, 67, and his 38-year-old son Philip Andrew Bown, pleaded guilty to blocking 17 badger setts on their farm and piping car exhaust fumes into the earth in an attempt to gas the animals inside.
They were fined £1,370 each for violating the Protection of the Badgers Act.
RSPCA inspector Ian Burns said: “This was a very inhumane way to try and kill these poor animals. They could have been trapped underground and potentially suffered a prolonged, slow death.
“Badgers are a protected animal and, like all animals, deserve to be treated with compassion. The defendants’ actions in this case were deliberate and constituted a significant breach of the law, having the potential to kill numerous animals in an inhumane way.
“It is not only illegal – but ethically unacceptable and cruel.
“We are of course very sympathetic to all farmers dealing with bovine TB in their cattle, but attempting to kill badgers, especially in this cruel and inhumane way, is simply not the answer.
“It is simply not acceptable to just take the law into your own hands in these situations.”
The badger cull started this summer in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire as a way to deal with bovine TB. The target was to kill 70% of the badger population in both areas in a 6-week period. However, less than 60% of the target was reached in Somerset with only 850 badgers killed and less than 30% in Gloucestershire with only 708 animals killed. Both areas were of course given an extension to try and meet 70 per cent.
Dominic Dyer, of charity Care for the Wild, said: ‘If the fact that this cull is morally and scientifically bankrupt isn’t enough, we’ve now got the fact that every badger killed so far has cost the British taxpayer around £2,200.
‘To put that in perspective, the cost of each dead badger could provide a hospital bed for a week.
‘I don’t know how they can possibly kill enough badgers in the next three weeks in either zone to reach the total they want.
‘That means scientifically the cull can’t possibly have any positive impact on bovine TB – and will most likely make it worse.
‘They should stop now before this cull costs more lives and more taxpayers’ money for absolutely no reason.’