Gruesome images have revealed the horror of the badger cull as marksmen aim to kill nearly 65,000 of the animals this autumn.
Lying bloodied and lifeless, the creatures have been shot as part of the Government’s controversial programme to curb the spread of tuberculosis in cows.
Another is bagged up ready for incineration.
This year’s scheme has been extended from 33 to 44 areas in 17 English counties – with up to 64,657 of the animals due to be slaughtered.
The dead creatures in these pictures were blasted to death in cull zones in Warwickshire earlier this week.
Badger Trust chief executive Dominic Dyer said: “At night away from public scrutiny and with no effective monitoring, hundreds of cull contractors are now travelling across England slaughtering thousands of badgers.
“As can be seen from these photos taken by Hunt Sabs in the Warwickshire cull zone this week, badger killing is a brutal and bloody business.
“Badgers are being shot at a distance with high powered rifles, or trapped in cages and shot at point blank range with shotguns or rifles.
“The Government could kill every badger in England but bovine TB will remain in cattle herds due to ineffective TB cattle testing, poor biosecurity and cattle movement controls.”
Some 102,188 badgers have been culled since 2013.
Supporters believe killing them helps curb TB in cows, with badgers blamed for carrying the disease around the countryside, infecting cattle.
But opponents believe the shooting programme is ineffective.
The Government has claimed the cull will begin to be phased out in the next few years, with vaccination of badgers being increased instead.
In July, it announced trials for an inoculation for cows will get underway amid moves for a vaccine by 2025.
National Farmers’ Union Deputy President Stuart Roberts said previously: “The impact of bovine TB continues to devastate farming families up and down the country, causing huge strain mentally, emotionally and financially for farmers.
“Thousands of farms have seen generations of cattle compulsorily slaughtered because of this disease and their herds put under restriction, crippling their livelihoods instantly.
“The NFU has always supported the Government’s 25-year eradication strategy, which provides farmers with a lifeline for tackling bovine TB, and using all available measures to tackle this horrendous disease, including strengthening cattle movements, enhanced biosecurity and controlling the disease in wildlife.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice has said: “Bovine TB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that the UK faces today, causing considerable trauma for farmers and costing taxpayers over £100million every year.
“No one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely.
“That is why we are accelerating other elements of our strategy, including vaccination and improved testing so that we can eradicate this insidious disease and start to phase out badger culling in England.”
This article was first published by The Mirror on 17 September 2020. Nearly 65,000 badgers could be killed in this year’s cull (Image: PA).
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