The Badger Trust has written to Natural England calling for an immediate halt to the badger culls across England due to the heat wave
The severe and prolonged hot weather which is leading to record breaking temperatures across many parts of the country is having a devastating impact on badgers. Multiple reports are being received by the Badger Trust, RSPCA and wildlife rescue centres across the country of badger cubs being severely underweight and subject to heat exposure and exhaustion due to lack of water.
Badgers rely on worms and insects for the bulk of their diet, but as a result of the heat wave, the ground is now so hard in many parts of the country that it is becoming impossible for them to feed.
The situation is being made worse as a result of the expansion of the badger cull policy, which is now allowing badgers to be killed in 21 areas of England, with a further 10 cull licences being considered for approval by Natural England by the end of August.
This could result in over 50,000 badgers being killed by the end of 2018, at a time when their numbers have already been devastated by the summer heat wave. Many of the badgers to be killed this summer will be trapped in cages in extremely hot temperatures and left for up to 12 hours with no access to water, which is extremely cruel.
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust said:
"As a result of the devastating heat wave and huge expansion of culling, badgers are now facing a catastrophic decline, which could result in local extinction from areas of the country which they have inhabited since the Ice Age. As we learned from the Judicial Review case against the badger cull policy in the High Court last week, the Government's badger population estimates are unacceptably vague and take no account of the impact of the current prolonged high temperatures.
Many of the badger cubs born this year and older badgers will not be able to make up sufficient body weight to survive the oncoming of winter. Taking this into account there can be no justification for allowing the continuation of badger culling in the heat wave, which could deplete their populations to such a level that the UK ends up in breach of its commitments under the Berne Convention.”
Tris Pearce an ecologist and Board Member of the Badger Trust said:
"Under their best practice guidelines for badger trapping, Natural England state that operators have a legal responsibility under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 not to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal under the control of man and that the trapping of wild badgers should be suspended due to exposure to low temperatures, wind chill and heavy rain in combination.
However, no provision is made for extreme high temperatures, which could result in thousands of badgers being trapped in the current heat wave in small metal cages for up to 12 hours, with minimal food and no access to water. We received reports of badger cages being found in the West Gloucestershire badger control area on 11th July, with temperatures in that region reaching 29 degrees centigrade.
With the Environment Agency stating last week that it will take many weeks of persistent rainfall to attempt to recover what the dry period has caused, Natural England should revoke all badger control licences during the heatwave on animal welfare grounds."