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What have badgers go to do with bird shooting?

Badgers have been hunted, baited, mistreated, exploited, and treated appallingly by humans for centuries.

Both they and their setts are now protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, but since the start of the badger cull – the government-sanctioned killing of a protected species to control Bovine Tuberculosis, a disease of dairy cattle – over 175,000 badgers have been shot. The vast majority of these animals have not been tested for TB and most are likely to be completely free of the disease.

Some shooting estates have enthusiastically backed the government-imposed badger cull though – not because of perceived threats to cattle (they don’t have any), but because badgers are omnivores and eat eggs.

That means badgers might put a tiny dent in the profits estates make selling birds to shooters.

There are scores of reliable reports from investigators and monitors of persecution of badgers and illegal interference with badger setts on shooting estates. They frequently report that when shooting syndicates buy woodlands, one of the first things they do is get rid of the badgers that live there.

A recent case involving a ‘sadistic’ gamekeeper from the supposedly prestigious Milden Estate in Scotland showed that estates are harbouring badger baiters too. Rhys Davies was part of an organised gang, whose passion was setting dogs on badgers and foxes.

Protect the Wild is opposed to the badger cull and any wildlife crime involving badgers.

We will continue to write about the cull, create innovative media campaigns, and empower everyone living in or visiting the countryside to recognise wildlife crime and know how to record and report it.