End this se­crecy over bad­ger cull zones

The Guardian - - LETTERS -

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

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