The controversial badger culls used to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis have meant thousands of animals dying in ‘immense pain’ an expert has warned.
Up to 9,000 animals died in pain, with up to a quarter taking more than five minutes to die after being shot, Prof Ranald Munro warned.
Proposals for a badger cull in Derbyshire were rejected by Defra this week, and the practice has become controversial.
Professor Munro is the ex-chair of a group of independent experts appointed to assess the culls.
He wrote to Natural England warning that not only are the culls causing suffering, they’re not reducing TB in cattle.
Professor Munro’s group found that 23% of badgers take up to five minutes to die - and estimates that 40,000 have been culled so far.
Professor Munro said, 'The numbers are huge, they really are. If you look at the likelihood of not dying within five minutes of being shot, you are looking at 3,000 badgers having suffered immense pain at a minimum. It could be as high as 9,000. There is a huge issue of suffering in these badgers.'
'The terms of the roll-out of the culling have not been adhered to,' Prof Munro said.
'They are saying 'oh yes, we are observing'; but they are observing at a level which is of no value whatsoever in determining the humanness of culling and whether badgers are being injured or how long they are taking to die.'
A spokesman for the National Farmer’s Union said that Professor Munro’s figures were out of date.
Last year an independent review commissioned by Michael Gove said that it is wrong to blame badgers as the main cause of outbreak.
The scientists said it’s ‘highly desirable’ to move to vaccination of badgers instead of culls, and for farmers to implement other measures to control the spread of disease.
Last year researchers, led by Prof Sir Charles Godfray of Oxford University, suggest that while culling badgers does have a ‘modest’ effect, the farming industry also needs to use other measures.
Professor Godfray told The Guardian, ‘It is wrong to use this as an excuse not to make hard decisions in the industry, which unfortunately is going to cost them money.