Wild Justice petition for badgers tops 100,000 signatures

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

A petition calling for the end to the shooting of badgers has passed the 100,000 signatures required to prompt a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament. Wild Justice, the group behind the move, is commended by Badger Trust.

The petition was started by Wild Justice, an organisation formed in 2019 by three key wildlife conservationists and campaigners, Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay. The ‘Ban the Shooting of Badgers’ petition states: ‘Shooting is poorly monitored and Wild Justice believes it has never met the animal welfare standards recommended by a 2014 Independent Expert Panel, whose recommendations were accepted by DEFRA. This method of culling is inhumane and should be banned immediately.’

The shooting of badgers is the primary method of killing by badger cull contractors, who operate under Natural England licence and who deliver the current Government sanctioned badger cull. Badgers are either cage trapped and shot, or free shot. Over 140,000 badgers have been killed using these methods since the current cull began in 2013, and it is estimated a further 100,000 or more are still due to die over the next eight years as the cull continues, despite incorrect interpretation of a recent Government statement on the matter, with some reports saying the cull would end in 2022.

Dawn Varley, Acting CEO of the Badger Trust, said:

‘Wild Justice is to be commended for this push to bring about a ban on the shooting of badgers, and in the achievement of topping the 100,000 signatures mark – a number that is still increasing.’

‘Whilst badgers remain one of the most persecuted animals in the UK, not least with a Government cull killing another 38,642 in 2020 alone, this iconic species has firm friends within like-minded animal welfare organisations, and a public badger army – neither of which should be underestimated.’

Mark Avery, a Director of Wild Justice, commented:

‘We are glad to include badgers as part of Wild Justice’s wider remit to stand up for wildlife using the legal system and seeking changes to existing laws. Whilst petitions of this type rarely, of themselves, change government policy they do keep up the pressure for change.’

‘We would like to increase that pressure and will continue to promote the petition to gain more signatures right up until midnight on 24 March 2021 when it closes. We await an update from the Government as to when the matter will be considered for a debate in Westminster Hall.’

Support for the petition has come from across the UK but has been particularly strong in areas where badger culling is taking place, such as the southwest counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Gloucestershire, and also in Derbyshire, where plans for badger vaccination were well advanced but have been disrupted by government pushing ahead with culling.