Following news that badger culling has commenced in parts of Somerset as part of a pilot scheme, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa moved swiftly to remind people that in Derbyshire, badgers remain a protected species.
“Whatever is happening elsewhere, the deliberate killing of a badger is a crime in Derbyshire,” he said. “Like other forms of wildlife and rural crime, those caught will be arrested and prosecuted as appropriate.”
Opponents of the scheme, which has already started in parts of Somerset and is due to commence later this week in Gloucestershire, say culling the protected animal will have only a small effect on infection rates and will lead to badgers suffering. They want the emphasis to be on vaccines and tighter on-farm and cattle movement measures.
Mr Dhindsa added: “The Police and Crime Plan is clear that we will work to tackle wildlife crime and cruelty towards animals, and while we appreciate that farmers are very concerned about the spread of bovine TB, breaking the law is not the way forward.
The Commissioner and I want to see a stronger, concerted effort in tackling illegal acts that harm wildlife, our environment and those who are legitimately trying to get on with running their farms and other rural businesses.
Mr Dhindsa went on to say that representatives of the Wildlife Trust, which is calling for widespread vaccination of badgers to halt the spread of TB in cattle, and the Mid Derbyshire Badger Group will be present at the Police and Crime Commissioner’s forthcoming Wildlife and Rural Crime Summit to be held in September.
Badgers and their setts are protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, legislation introduced to prevent cruelty to badgers – making it illegal to wilfully kill, injure or take a badger, cruelly mistreat a badger and, amongst other actions, intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy a badger sett – or obstruct access to it.
The County Council has also set out its decision to oppose culling on its land, saying instead that a nationwide badger vaccination programme should be supported, co-ordinated and funded as part of the Government's bovine TB control strategy.
Supporters of the cull say it is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which can be spread from infected badgers. Last year, in Derbyshire, over 200,000 cattle were tested for TB resulting in the slaughter of 832.
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Tuesday 27th August 2013