BVA raises welfare concerns for badgers trapped in cages during heatwave
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has voiced concerns for the welfare of badgers who may be trapped in cages for long periods of time in cull areas in England.
With the current heatwave showing no signs of abating, there are reports that badgers may be trapped with no access to water until the cages are checked, which may not be until the following day.
Natural England, the government advisory body that issues cull licences, has issued a best practice guide that stipulates that culling should be as humane as possible with measures taken to mitigate against adverse weather conditions. However, traps are routinely set during the day and then checked the following morning, meaning that a badger may be in a cage for over 12 hours.
In past consultation responses on Bovine Tuberculosis and badger control, BVA has called for stronger guidance to ensure that cages are checked regularly throughout the day, especially in the morning, and for culling processes to operate as humanely as possible with special consideration for badgers trapped in inclement weather.
BVA President John Fishwick said: “There are obvious welfare concerns if badgers are being trapped in extreme temperatures with no access to water for long periods of time. We would urge Natural England and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to review what is happening currently in cull areas and take mitigating action if required while the heatwave continues.”
Responding to this release a Natural England spokesperson said:
“Badger control has been authorised in two areas so far this year as part of supplementary culling operations. Any further licensing decisions will be made later this summer.
“We publish a clear Best Practice Guide to ensure culling is as humane as possible and contractors are trained to deploy cages within cover to mitigate against exposure to hot or cold weather.
“We have contacted both supplementary badger control companies to remind them that trapping should cease at sites where trapped badgers could suffer in the heat. We are also carrying out monitoring checks and are content badger welfare has been fully considered.”