BVA raises welfare concerns for badgers trapped in cages during heatwave

A professional body representing 17,000 British vets has voiced concerns for the welfare of badgers who may be trapped in cages for long periods of time in cull areas in England.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said 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.

The BVA said 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.

Lobbying efforts

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.

It has also lobbied 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.

BVA supports the practice of targeted and humane badger culling using cage trapping and shooting only, as part of the comprehensive strategy to tackle bovine TB.