End this secrecy over badger cull zones
Thousands more badgers are to be killed in new and extended government-licensed control zones (Huge rise in badger culling will see up to 33,500 animals shot, 12 September).
The government believes badger killing will eliminate bovine tuberculosis but won’t publish details of the zones, arguing public safety might be compromised. However, much of the killing takes place on land to which the citizen has some access. Disclosure would equip citizens to make informed judgments about their safety and that of their pets and about whether the shooting and trapping in their own backyard is legal or not. They could then engage in legitimate protest about the systematic killing of our native wildlife – in short, ensuring licence holders and the government can be held to account.
The information commissioner has ruled the data should be freely available but, conveniently, much of the detail rests with the organisations licensed to kill badgers, the “control companies”, to which freedom of information obligations do not apply. Most of us will only find out that they live within a killing zone by hearing the sound of gunfire.
Jonathon Porritt Forum for the Future, Mark Jones Born Free Foundation, Alick Simmons, Chris Cheeseman • Culling badgers by shooting is a very expensive and possibly ineffective method for controlling badger numbers. Could a form of oral contraception be used instead? Badgers love to eat peanuts, as seen on the BBC programme Autumnwatch. The necessary research would be needed, but soaking peanuts in an oral contraceptive solution and suitable, targeted baiting seems a useful alternative to shooting. Of course, strict adherence to guidelines would be needed to stop other animals and birds from being put on the pill. David Hurry Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex