In 2020 Wild Justice launched a Parliamentary Petition calling for an immediate ban on the licensing of the shooting of badgers by Natural England. When it closed in March 2021, the petition had gathered 106,108 signatures from the public.
After almost a year’s wait, we’ve finally got a date for the petition to be debated in the Westminster Parliament; Monday 21 March 2022 (previously advertised as 14 March but rescheduled by the Petitions Committee). We’re asking the public to encourage their MPs to attend on that day and make the case for badgers.
Since the first badger culls were proposed in England in 2010, an estimated 140,000 badgers have been killed in England, for which shooting was the preferred method. Earlier in 2020, Wild Justice challenged the legality of free shooting of badgers. We argued that badger shooting is inhumane and that in licensing it Natural England is not taking account of the recommendations made to government by an expert panel on the animal welfare aspects of culling. In June 2021, we heard our challenge had been unsuccessful.
In 2014, an Independent Expert Panel, chaired by Sir Ranald Munro, delivered a report to the Government following the first year of culling. The report concluded that shooting badgers was likely to cause suffering in a significant proportion of cases. Between 7.4% and 22.8% of badgers that had been shot took more than five minutes to die from blood loss, bullet wounds and organ failure. After the following year of pilot culls, the Independent Expert Panel was disbanded by DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson. Since then, independent monitoring of cull contractors has reduced, and shooting has remained the primary method of killing badgers in cull areas.
Support for this method of culling has continued to dwindle; in 2015, the British Veterinary Association stated that they "can no longer support the use of controlled shooting as the pilot culls have failed to demonstrate that this method can be used effectively and humanely".
The coming debate is another opportunity to register public concern about the badger cull which has grown in projected scale since it first started. The number of signatures demonstrated that this is an important public issue.
When the date for the Parliamentary debate was announced, we in turn asked our supporters to consider writing to their MP. The more badger-friendly voices we can encourage to attend, the better. There is still time to do this; if you live in England, consider sending an email to your MP and ask them if they’ll attend on Monday 21 March. We’ve included some suggested wording here, but feel free to use your own words too.
If you’d like to watch the debate yourself, it can be streamed from the Parliament YouTube channel.
Add the date to your diary: Monday 21 March, at 16:30.
Lucy Lapwing works with Wild Justice
The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.
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