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Badgers have no enemies except other badgers and man. They can feel the vibration of oncoming cars on the road, but like the hedgehog, their reaction is to stand still. As a consequence, up to 50,000 are killed on the road each year. Then, there are the proposed culls.

Here is another problem. This was in 2012; instances of this kind are on the rise.

Here is a report written in 2012 - Farming Online.

Rise in badger persecution follows cull postponement

Police in areas where trial culls were to take place have been investigating claims that badgers are being illegally persecuted. One of the government's trial culls was to go ahead in Gloucestershire, before the Defra secretary's announcement that culling would be postponed last month.

The furore which surrounded the cull preparations, followed by a last minute U-turn in late October, are thought to have contributed to higher incidences of persecution. Senior police officers working on 'Operation Meles,' which aims to tackle wildlife crime, have confirmed they are investigating a number of incidents in Gloucestershire, including people advocating illegal killing online.

Species Protection Officer Ian Hutchison, who is heading Operation Meles, said that badger baiters "have even pumped slurry into setts effectively drowning the badgers in excrement." He continued, "There have been some people inciting this sort of behaviour online, suggesting ways in which to kill them and we are monitoring them."

In September, when plans for the government’s trial culls were still officially on track, Irene Brierton, chair of the Mid Derbyshire Badger Group announced that a badger had been discovered shot dead, bearing wounds matching Natural England's guidance to shooters conducting culling. The badger was found near Matlock.

Environment Minister Owen Paterson announced in Parliament that badger culls, which were set to start imminently in areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire, would be postponed until next year following delays and a higher than anticipated number of badgers in the cull areas. Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh hoped that the government would use the postponement to kick the unpopular policy "into the long grass."

Meanwhile, badger persecution has been raised to the level of a UK Wildlife crime priority, which means each Chief Constable in England has to account for their force's work to combat wildlife crime. In September the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) compiled a full report on badger incidents for the first time. NWCU officers said "A coordinated series of public meetings and press conferences will not only expose the cruelty badgers suffer, but also the need for the proper recording of wildlife crime in general," though wildlife groups have warned that the majority of wildlife crime goes unreported.

In the run up to the cull, senior police officers had warned that the government’s policy, which formed a significant part of the UK’s bovine TB eradication plan, could lead to an increase in persecution, although badgers remain a protected species under European law.

Jack Reedy, spokesperson for the Badger Trust, which has opposed culling, described the persecution observed in Derbyshire and Gloucestershire as "Brutal behaviour on the part of ignorant people."

He suggested the policy of culling had "given the impression that it’s now open season on badgers, though persecution remains illegal and is punishable by either a fine of £5,000 or six months in prison."

The NFU refused to comment on whether the build up to culling, and last minute postponement, has had an effect on wildlife persecution in England. An NFU spokesperson said, "We cannot comment on individual cases, but the NFU does not condone any illegal behaviour of animal cruelty or neglect."

Tuesday 06 November 2012

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