By Kevin Heath
Once again the British royal family have shown their love of killing or maiming wildlife. This time it is Princess Anne who in an interview set to be broadcast on BBC Countryfile thinks that badgers should be culled by gassing. While the public consistently supports non-lethal methods of TB control in badgers and wildlife the news that the royals support gassing is, if not unexpected, then disappointing.
Her views that gassing can be an effective and humane way of culling badgers is not supported by the science. The contrary is true – the way that badger setts are formed and networked means that in many cases the gas becomes so diluted that rather than killing quickly it subjects the badgers to a slow and painful death.
Wildlife lovers of a certain age will remember the last time that gassing was tried during the late 70′s and early 80′s. TV news was dominated by people who placed themselves directly between the badger setts and the poisoners in order to bring to an end this cruel and barbaric practice.
The campaign to gas badgers humanely then failed and gassing was banned and any attempt to restart the gassing will do nothing to control the spread of Bovine TB and will just inflict pain and suffering on the animals. Obviously the royal family have a long tradition of inflicting suffering on British – and foreign – wildlife in the name of sport and to satisfy their blood-lust but gassing is not an effective means of animal control and in the case of badgers it is exactly the opposite – and that’s been proven in scientific studies.
The most frightening thing is that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is in the ‘initials stages of investigation’ as to whether gassing can be used as a culling method. Obviously with the Prime Minister David Cameron related to the royal family and a phone call from Buckingham Palace got him his first job at the Conservative Party there is a bias towards listening to what the royals want. However while the government may have changed the science has not.
With just a year away from the next general election it is worth remembering the sort of country that the Conservatives would bring back if they had a majority. They have already tried to bring back foxhunting with dogs through the backdoor by using an obscure amendment. That was stopped as public opinion built up.
I remember the last major badger gassing campaign. The sight and sounds of gassed badgers stumbling around with blood and pus dribbling out of ears, eyes and other orifices while they struggle to breath and gasp for air for hours during their slow and painful death. That sight does not belong in the British countryside and for the royals to think that it does demonstrates how out-of-touch and irrelevant they are to a modern, vibrant British democracy.