Farmers in the UK have been wanting to kill badgers for decades - and all because they wrongly blame badgers for spreading an infection called Bovine tuberculosis (bTB). The real problem here is the dairy industry, whose failure to control the infection has cause badgers to become infected too!
Cattle get sold and moved around the country every year. This plus poor biosecurity - disinfecting and hygiene standards - lead to bTB being spread, not badgers! And the thing the farmers don't want you to know is that diseases and infections from poor farming conditions cause many more times the number of deaths to cattle than bTB does.
The government and farmers in England are currently 'culling' badgers, shooting them in the dead of night. It's an imprecise and horrible practice, which can leave badgers mortally wounded and in pain for hours or days after being shot. It also disrupts the badgers in the area, causing them to flee, and if they have bTB they just take that along with them into another area and spread it further!
Hunting with hounds is illegal in the UK, but hunts still happen across the country. This vicious and bloodthirsty practice has been called a 'sport' - one where they chase terrified foxes on horseback and kill them, sometimes in their own warrens by smoking them out and clubbing them to death when they try to escape the fire.
Not only the hunts in the UK, but trophy hunting is a major wildlife issue. Wild animals are killed by holiday makers as a sport in some of the most vulnerable wild places left on earth. Companies like Nikon support the industry with riflescopes built to hunt wild animals such as lions, despite their population numbers plummeting.
Native to North America, the grey squirrel was brought to Victorian Britain as an ornamental species by the aristocracy. Today, these highly intelligent and adaptable animals can be seen in woodlands, parks and gardens across the country.
While many people have great affection and respect for grey squirrels, they are wrongly hated by members of certain groups, most notably those with shooting or forestry interests, and some 'conservationists' who believe that the mass killing of greys is justifiable in their quest to boost the number of native red squirrels.
Each year in the Forest of Dean wild boar are being hunted and shot. They are blamed for everything from environmental damage to aggression to other animals and humans. The reality is that the boar – who were re-introduced to the region, but were native to it until they were previously hunted to extinction – have adapted well to a life in the forest.
It is a rare sight to actually see boar in the forest at all - so rare that even though they are 'culled' to control their population, the killers often can't find enough of them! Left to their own devices, as with all animals and nature, the boar population would balance itself out.
The ‘cull’ also has an unintended consequence. Encouraged by the trade in so-called ‘exotic meats’ poaching is on the rise. Indeed, one local councillor said that residents were more in danger of stray bullets than they were of the boar themselves. This illegal trade in boar meat also makes it impossible to ascertain a true population throughout the area.
The Australian Government authorises the slaughter of millions of kangaroos every single year. They are shot at night in the vast outback, away from public scrutiny. It is the largest annual massacre of wild land animals on the planet.
The slaughter of kangaroos is largely driven by the market for meat and leather. Around six million kangaroos were earmarked for slaughter in 2013. Although often called a ‘cull’ the annual slaughter of kangaroos is not about removing sick or weak animals. Because it is commercially driven, shooters tend to target the largest animals as they yield the most meat and leather.
The kangaroo ‘cull’ figure does not include the hundreds of thousands of baby ‘joey’ kangaroos that are always killed after their mothers are shot (some estimates put the figure close to a million each year). The Australian Government’s own guidelines insist on clubbing or decapitating joeys, as they cannot survive without their mothers. The trade doesn’t even utilise these dead babies, but simply discards them.
They are often termed a ‘pest’, yet research has shown that they rarely venture onto wheat fields and do not compete for grazing with sheep. Another myth is the population explosion. Kangaroos are a slow-breeding marsupial with low reproductive rates. A kangaroo can only raise one joey to independence per year. The most ridiculous myth is that kangaroos damage the very environment that they have evolved over millions of years to live in.
In Britain ostriches are penned up, their eggs taken away and their chicks killed at one year old. Slaughter bound ostriches are often starved for hours or days before they are killed. Moved in all kinds of weather, they endure cold, damp, thirst, heat stress, panic and terror. In cattle transporters, they jump into one another and run into walls screaming. Ostriches are not native to Britain and are uniquely unsuited to our climate.
Crocodiles are killed in the wild although taking animals from the wild for captive breeding is more common - much of it in Australia or elsewhere in Asia. The shock and trauma of capture is substantial and that is before they are confined in an unnatural habitat for the rest of their lives.
Crammed into tiny, filthy pens, they are barely able to move, let alone hide. They are killed at three years of age in a number of extremely disturbing ways, for example, having a chisel driven into the base of the skull and a rod poked in to probe and destroy the brain.
Upmarket stores Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and downmarket Lidl are selling - or have recently sold - reindeer meat in many of their stores across the UK. The reindeer industry causes huge suffering both to reindeers and wild animals, such as wolves, lynxes and bears (with cubs), that are killed to protect it.
Reindeer also suffer from modern herding methods. In Nordic countries, they are often herded with snowmobiles, motorcycles and even helicopters, which causes a huge amount of stress to these gentle wild animals. The suffering can be so great that their muscles can literally waste away. They may sometimes also be killed in methods that would be illegal in the UK.
In Siberia, bounties are often put on wolves and in many areas there are calls for their localised extinction in order to protect reindeer farming.