Saturday, 21 June 2014

England's badger cull breaks wildlife rules, say campaigners

Groups write to Bern Convention secretariat to claim officials have failed to assess cull's impact on birds and small mammals

Press Association, Thursday 19 June 2014 12.24 BST

Badger culling is breaking international rules to protect wildlife because of the negative effects it could have on other species, campaigners have said.

Wildlife charities have launched a challenge to the government's policy of culling badgers in England to tackle tuberculosis in cattle, claiming officials failed to conduct sufficient risk assessments on the impacts it could have on protected wildlife.

The Humane Society International UK, Care for the Wild and the Badger Trust claim the policy breaches the Bern Convention on conserving European wildlife and habitats, to which the UK has been a signatory since 1982.

In a complaint to the convention's secretariat, they said the badger cull could have a negative impact on a range of species such as song birds and small mammals affected by the removal of badgers from their ecosystem.

The groups also said the cull was unnecessary because bovine TB could be controlled in cattle without culling badgers, which are a protected species.

Research showed removing badgers could affect numbers of other predators – for example increasing fox numbers, which can damage protected species such as ground-nesting birds, they said.

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