CONTROVERSIAL plans to allow farmers to shoot badgers on their land have been met with mixed reaction from people in the area.
The announcement that a badger cull could be implemented from spring, 2012, was made by environment secretary Caroline Spelman. It is part of a wider package of measures, including the testing of cattle herds, to deal with bovine tuberculosis, said to cost the UK £100 million a year.
But the news has angered animal rights supporters who believe the controlled shooting of badgers would be inhumane and ineffective.
Jaine Wild, secretary of Badger Trust West Sussex, said the plans had no scientific backing and were made to please farmers.
She said: “It’s disgusting, but the announcement comes as no surprise. The conservatives have the worst track record of animal welfare. At least when the badgers were culled before it was humane. They were trapped and then shot humanely.
“Here, we’re going to be giving farmers licences to shoot badgers. It’s dangerous and irresponsible. The government doesn’t know what it’s unleashing.”
Jaine added that since the plans were announced she had received phone calls from people willing to stand with her in protest, including an elderly woman.
But farmer Linda Lampshire, of Northdown Farm, in Arundel Road, said the disease needed to be contained, though she questioned how effective the government’s proposals were likely to be.
She said: “There are some fors and some againsts.
“It’s unfortunate that we have a disease like that, and we have to do something about it, I suppose.
“There will always be badgers – you will never kill them all. But I understand it’s not only badgers that carry it, so how far do you go? It’s sad for wildlife but things are sad for everybody in different ways. For the good of things we’ve got to do it, try to limit it, I suppose.”
Billy Elliott, senior animal rescue officer from Worthing and District Animal Rescue Service, said he would be willing to volunteer to help trap badgers and test them for bovine tuberculosis.
He added: “Whenever I find an animal that I know will need to be put down, I feel terrible. It’s such a shame for healthy animals to be culled in any circumstances, especially when there appears to be no concerted evidence.
“It seems a very extreme measure without exploring other avenues.
“Tests need to be done on the number of badgers with bovine tuberculosis, because if the number of animals infected is 0.1 per cent, it doesn’t make sense to cull tens of thousands of badgers.”
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