Just 3 per cent of respondents to the Government’s recent consultation on badger control in the Low Risk Area of England were farmers or from farming groups.
Agricultural organisations were massively outnumbered by the 32 per cent of respondents who said they supported wildlife, welfare or conservation, with 16 per cent of replies generated from wildlife campaigns.
Vegan groups Viva! and Worcestershire Vegans and Veggies contributed to the consultation, alongside organisations such as the League Against Cruel Sports.
Dozens of badger protection groups also responded, including two from Wales and Scotland, which are outside the proposed cull area.
A further 30 per cent of those who contributed did not disclose any association, 20 per cent said they were members of the public, 5 per cent were ecologists or environmentalists, 2 per cent were landowners, 1 per cent were vets or from veterinary organisations and 1 per cent were academics.
The Government’s summary of responses stated: “Many members of the public who responded expressed a strong interest in wildlife, badger welfare or conservation, for personal or professional reasons. Some stated that they had previously participated in badger vaccination programmes.
“The majority of respondents were opposed to the proposal to extend badger control to the LRA, and many respondents did not respond directly to any of the specific questions. Rather they were opposed in principle to badger control.”
The majority of contributions from the farming community, however, were supportive of extending badger control to the LRA.
Following the closure of the consultation, Farming Minister George Eustice announced badger culling would be permitted in the LRA in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
“This will allow any such outbreaks to be tackled rapidly to prevent bTB from spreading further within the wildlife and cattle populations. It will also help preserve the LRA’s low incidence status,” he said.
Since then, wildlife campaigners have stepped up efforts to stop the proposed culls, which could begin in autumn this year.