Badger cull blog claims 'botched kills'
Fresh doubt has been cast on the humaneness of the pilot badger cull after a Somerset county councillor claimed a "steady trickle of botched kills" has been found outside the zone.
Mike Rigby, an independent councillor representing Bishops Lydeard on the edge of the cull area, fears injured badgers are not being killed instantly, as the Government claims, but are escaping and dying elsewhere.
Secret World Wildlife Rescue, at East Huntspill, said more badgers than usual had been brought in since the killing began, but only one appears to have been shot.
Campaigners believe, however, that the surge in night-time activity around the shooting is affecting other wildlife by disturbing nocturnal hunting.
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They have also revealed an increase in reports of attacks on badgers, including shooting and gassing, claiming that legitimising night-time shooting in restricted zones has ffectively declared "open season" on badgers across the county.
Mr Rigby has said the dead animals, which are protected by law outside the licensed cull zones, had been "found shot on roads and elsewhere, clearly not in approved kill areas".
In his latest blog, he wrote: "This would suggest that either free-shooting is not proving to be a particularly humane method of culling, as badgers are running off to die, or that there is a sizeable illegal badger cull going on, perhaps using the official cull as cover. The former explanation would be a further nail in the cull's coffin, the latter requires a police investigation.
"Defra said there was 'no evidence to support these claims'."
A spokesman for the Environment Department added: "If Mr Rigby has information about any illegal shooting or harming of badgers, he should report it to the police."
Pauline Kidner, the founder of Secret World, which released photographs of a badger thought to have been shot this month, said the high number of dead badger sightings could be because so many people were in the area.
"We have lots of badgers brought into us thought to have been shot but on inspection they have looked like road traffic accidents," she added
"One looked to all intents and purposes like it had been shot in the head, but when we wiped the blood away there was no entry or exit wound."
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said no-one was available to comment on Mr Rigby's remarks.