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Theologian dismayed as cull begins

07 June 2013

by a staff reporter


Protest: the Queen guitarist Brian May with badger sup­porters in Westminster last weekend

Protest: the Queen guitarist Brian May with badger sup­porters in Westminster last weekend

ANIMAL-welfare charities should prosecute those involved in badger culls, which started this week in two areas of England, the Revd Professor Andrew Linzey has said.

Professor Linzey, director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, said last week that the "planned killings" of badgers were "utterly bereft of scientific or ethical justification.

"In the history of animal protection, we have witnessed many attempts to fool the public, but none more concerted or ridiculous than the proposed killing of thousands upon thousands of badgers. The RSPCA and other animal-welfare organisations should bring test cases to demonstrate the cruelty involved and the perfidity of the Government's justifications. The only solution to bovine TB is the vaccination of cows and/or badgers. Everything else is dross and detail."

He also called on the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, to resign, "to make way for someone who understands the nation's concern for the proper treatment of animals".

MPs were due to debate a motion opposing the cull on Wednesday this week.

Licences to cull badgers in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire came into force on 1 June. A licence allows badgers to be shot by trained marksmen, in any continuous six-week period, up to 1 December.

An anti-cull rally, led by the former Queen guitarist Brian May, was held in London last weekend. It delivered a petition of nearly 250,000 signatures to Downing Street calling for the cull to be scrapped.

The Government argues that the cull is necessary as part of efforts to stop the increasing outbreaks of TB in dairy and beef herds. The National Farmers Union argues that vaccinating a single badger costs £662. It is "laborious, impractical, and very expensive".

A spokesman for the RSPCA welcomed Professor Linzey's intervention, but said that it would not be able to prosecute because it has been licensed by the Government.

"We agree with Professor Andrew Lindzey that the imminent badger cull is 'utterly bereft of scientific and ethical justification', and welcome his dismay at these devastating plans to kill thousands of wild animals.

"The RSPCA cares equally about badgers and cattle, but this cull simply will not work as a solution to bovine TB. The only real answer will be vaccination for both cattle and badgers, better biosecurity, and control of cattle movements."

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