Commitment to put ‘animal sentience...at the heart of policy making’ is silent on the ongoing killing of badgers and local extinction risks
Badger Trust, whilst generally welcoming the Government’s Queen’s Speech announcement of a programme of animal welfare measures, has criticised the approach as appearing to exclude any consideration of badgers, or recognise the ongoing badger cull which has to date killed over 140,000 badgers since 2013.
The policy paper ‘Action Plan for Animal Welfare’ published following the Queen’s Speech at the opening of Parliament on 11 May, begins with George Eustice, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, stating, ‘We are a nation of animal lovers…’ and ‘The way we treat animals reflects our values and the kind of people we are…’ . Despite this no reference is made to what the future may hold for badgers, as recent proposals still put the Government on track to kill another 140,000 badgers in coming years.
Dawn Varley, Badger Trust Acting CEO, said: ‘Whilst we welcome the policy paper in general as progress for animals, and the statement that the Government is putting 'animal sentience at the heart of policy making' we despair that this progress seems to be at the exclusion of badgers.’
‘It appears that animal welfare and animal sentience matters to the Government, unless the animal is a badger.’
Badger Trust has reviewed the policy paper and responded to relevant sections in Section 8, entitled ‘Wild Animals’:
‘We have an ambitious programme of work that looks both at kept wild animals, and at the conservation of those in the wild.’
Badger Trust welcomes this sentiment. Unfortunately it ignores the fact that the Government has since 2013 killed over 140,000 badgers as part of its bTB eradication policy, and under current proposals, is due to kill around the same number again under continuing cull licences. Badgers are being obliterated, not conserved, whilst being blamed for a problem they are not responsible for.
‘Looking towards animals in the wild, the government is committed to protecting domestic biodiversity’
Badger Trust welcomes this commitment in theory, but in practice believes the current badger cull approach in England threatens the survival of the badger, and has an active complaint under the Bern Convention (in conjunction with Born Free and Eurogroup for Animals) against the Government for threatening the species with extinction at local level.