Animal culls

Wild animals are killed because they are considered to be a ‘pest’ or because they are not wanted, for other reasons.


Badgers are persecuted because they are blamed for spreading the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) disease to cattle.

The UK government’s current policy is to cull badgers in England.

In 2013 ‘trial’ culls of badgers took place in parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire in which 1,861 badgers were needlessly slaughtered.

The cull was cruel, pointless and incompetently handled.

Scientific studies have shown that killing badgers is ineffective in reducing TB in cattle.

Methods that could be used to control the disease include trapping and vaccinating badgers (as happens in Wales) and preventing the spread of the disease amongst cattle.

See our Badger cull factsheet


Seals are slaughtered on the ice floes off Canada’s east coast.

The Canadian government claims that the harp seal population needs to be culled to protect the North Atlantic cod fishery.

Young seals are cruelly shot or clubbed and skinned so that their pelts can be sold. The profit motive is the real reason for the cull.

In truth the North Atlantic cod fishery declined because of past over-fishing (by the same fishermen who are now killing seals) and not because the seals ate all the fish!

See our Canadian seal cull factsheet


Cormorants are persecuted because it is said that they ‘steal’ from fish farms as well as from the lakes and rivers that anglers use.

Cormorants are native to the UK coastline and have moved inland as well-stocked fish farms and fishing lakes have opened up.

Cormorants eat fish to survive while anglers kill for fun and people eat fish for pleasure, so there is really no justification for killing the birds for doing what comes naturally.

This is another example of man creating an imbalance in nature and then blaming wildlife for the problem.


Foxes have been hunted for centuries. Farmers accuse them of killing chickens and lambs, and gamekeepers say that they eat the pheasants and partridges that they rear for the shoot.

Foxes actually take very few chickens and lambs. Farmed poultry can easily be protected with fencing and by being securely locked up at night. Lambs are rarely taken and many more die because they are born too early in the year when the weather is too cold and wet and because they are not looked after properly.

The truth is that foxes are most often hunted and killed purely for sport.

Gamekeepers shoot foxes and trap them in snares to protect their game birds.

Foxes are wild animals who need to eat to survive, while gamekeepers rear birds so that their employer can make money by charging people to shoot them for fun.

Killing foxes to aid an unnecessary, cruel sport is hardly justified.

Grey squirrels

Grey squirrels are culled because they are blamed for the disappearance of the red squirrel. They are also killed because they are said to damage trees.

Grey squirrels were introduced from North America in the 1800s and have expanded their range as the red squirrel has declined.

People have suggested culling the greys to bring back the reds. Squirrels are killed using horrendously cruel methods such as trapping, poisoning and clubbing them to death.

The reality is that the grey squirrel is better adapted to deciduous forests and so can survive in the habitat more successfully than the red.

The red squirrel is better adapted to the coniferous forest where it can survive better than the grey.

This is another example of man creating an imbalance in nature and then blaming wildlife for the problem.

A solution would be to expand the area of the red’s preferred habitat – Scots pine forest.

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© Animal Aid 2014