Secret World founder's 'horror' at potential cull site extension

PUBLISHED: 13:00 31 March 2018

Gnat and Bumblebee

Gnat and Bumblebee

Contributed

Fears are growing for the lives of two badgers released by an animal charity due to a possible cull area extension.

Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill featured on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s BBC Two show Hugh’s Wild West with badgers Gnat and Bumblebee.

The animals were being cared for by staff and volunteers at the charity’s headquarters in New Road where they also underwent tests for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) – an infectious disease which can be deadly for cattle.

Despite the tests showing neither badger carried the disease there are concerns their safety is at risk after attempts were made to extend a cull area to include neighbouring fields of the site where they were released into the wild.

Secret World founder and former dairy farmer Pauline Kidner said: “We are horrified that having followed our agreed protocol, animals we have released in a safe environment are now endangered by further badger culls.

“With at least 10 more areas being rolled out, there is still no scientific evidence that they are making any difference at all to the incidents of bTB in cattle.

“I find it incredible that 34,103 badgers have been killed in our countryside and no-one seems to care.

“The huge expense of culls costing millions of pounds could be better spent resolving the cattle to cattle spread which is the main reservoir.”

BBC wildlife presenter and Secret World patron Chris Packham added: “This tragic individual case further highlights the wholesale disregard for the welfare of wildlife by the government and their authorities.

“These animals were lovingly nurtured and now they could be needlessly slaughtered.

“This sickening, expensive, cruel and divisive cull is a stain on the UK’s reputation as a leader in animal welfare and conservation.”

Although the landowner has appealed to Natural England to grant protection status to the area and has developed prototype monitoring equipment which can tell cull marksmen if a badger has been tested or vaccinated, the government-advising body has refused to implement it.

Badger culling began in Somerset in 2013.

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