Shooting groups have strongly criticised an article in The Guardian last week about the Government?s plans to employ ?free shooting? of badgers as part of its strategy to tackle bovine TB.

The article said that ministers will approve plans to allow groups of volunteers to organise their own shooting expeditions to kill badgers in affected areas, after applying for an appropriate firearms licence.

It also quoted a strategic assessment from the National Wildlife Crime Unit warning of a very real danger of illegal badger persecution being carried out under the pretext of culling activity.

David Taylor, shooting campaign manager at the Countryside Alliance said: ?By associating shooting and badger culling, those who oppose the proposed cull are using this emotive issue to score multiple hits at the shooting community.

?They insinuate that badger shooting will become a new form of organised sport, with many bloodthirsty shooters lining up to shoot a badger. This could not be further from the truth. As with other species, licences would only be granted to individuals to control species under very specific circumstances.?

The article also highlighted Labour?s concerns that any culling of badgers by shooting would have an adverse effect on tourism in bovine TB ?hotspot areas? such as Devon and Cornwall.

It quoted Tessa Jowell, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, as saying: I don?t believe that many of us would be comfortable with the idea of a ?Big Society badger cull?, with volunteers licensed to roam the countryside carrying shotguns. I am not sure what it does to encourage people to visit the countryside.

The rest of this article appears in 20th April issue of Shooting Times.

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