Badger culls raise concerns
Badger culls planned to take place this autumn risk breaching the Bern Convention on Wildlife, scientists have claimed.
Christl Donnelly of Imperial College London and Rosie Woodroffe of the Institute of Zoology, both former members of the Independent Scientific Group on Bovine TB, have published a paper in the journal Nature, which claims the planned culls for West Somerset and West Gloucestershire this autumn are at risk of breaching the Bern Convention on Wildlife.
One of the conditions of the six week culls is for at least 70% of badgers to be removed without risking the total extinction of local populations. Natural England, the agency monitoring the cull, will be required to set minimum and maximum cull numbers for each licence to prevent total extinction occurring. However, Professor Donnelly and Dr Woodroffe say estimating the proportion of badgers culled within a given area will be extremely difficult to achieve due to ‘uncertain’ badger population estimates.
The scientists write: “The UK government’s plans to license badger culling for the control of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle are controversial; by contrast, the Welsh Assembly has decided to vaccinate rather than cull badgers.”
They add: “However, culling too many badgers risks local extinction, contravening the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.”
Badgers are listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention meaning the Government is committed to regulate any exploitation of badgers to keep populations ‘out of danger’.