Princess Anne has called for an end to the ban on gassing badgers, saying it is the most humane way to control the population and stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB).
Speaking to the BBC’s Countryfile programme, to be broadcast tonight, she called for the ban to be lifted, and also reiterated her call for horses to be farmed for their meat.
The princess has lost 15 of her rare breed cattle to bovine TB, a disease spread by badgers, in the last two years.
She told the programme: “Most of the people who did it in the past will tell you that gas is a much nicer way of doing it, if that’s not a silly expression, because of the way it works.
“And how it works is that you go to sleep, basically.”
Her comments come just days after the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that it would not be expanding trial badger culls to new areas. An independent report found that trials culls so far have failed to kill anywhere near the required number of badgers.
A senior member of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) told the BBC that the Princess’ comments would be welcomed by farmers. Andrew Guest, the NFU’s county chairman for Gloucestershire, said: “The Princess Royal is noted for outspoken views and her forthright honesty.
“I think it’s an option that needs looking at. And provided we can tick all the boxes as far as humaneness goes then it would certainly be an option to consider.”
Defra issued a statement saying: “Initial investigations into the use of gas as a potential culling method are taking place as set out in the 25-year strategy to free England of bovine TB, which includes plans for more sophisticated TB testing, developing cattle and oral badger vaccines, tighter cattle movement controls, badger vaccination in the buffer zone and badger culling in areas where disease is widespread.
“It is not possible to say at this very early stage if or when gassing is likely to be a realistic or humane method of culling.”
The princess also called for the return of farming horses for human consumption. She said that thousands of horses are currently neglected, and that “An awful lot of the abandonments are because they don’t perceive there to be any value in the animals.”
“But the meat trade adds value to the animal, so there is some point in keeping it healthy if it’s got an end point that it can go to,” she added.
Asked if she would eat horse herself, she said: “Oh certainly,” and added it that it was “very good.”