Badger cull targeted in Euro parliament
Plans to shoot badgers could be blocked by the "heavy hand" of Brussels after campaigners enlisted the European Parliament in the battle to halt a cull in the Westcountry.
The Humane Society International (HSI) has lodged a "serious complaint" against the UK government proposals to license two trial culls in September.
The pilot projects to eradicate bovine tuberculosis already face a judicial review next month, brought by the Badger Trust.
HSI supporters say the Coalition proposals to license free shooting by farmers breaches the 30-year-old Bern Convention. The claim has been supported by a key animal welfare committee in Brussels, which has formally asked the Convention to take the complaint seriously.
However, a South West MEP has told the campaigners to "butt out" of the debate over how to control the disease and leave it to the people affected.
Mark Jones, vet and executive director of HSI UK, said "indiscriminately" shooting badgers at night was a "clear abuse" of protection measures.
"The Bern Convention must take decisive action and advise the government that proceeding with this bloody and pointless slaughter will place it in clear breach of its obligations," he added.
The HSI has registered its grievance with the European Parliament's Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.
Intergroup chairman Dan Jørgensen, a socialist MEP, and UK Green MEP for South East England, Keith Taylor, have co-signed a letter to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) urging it to give serious consideration.
Julie Girling, a South West Tory MEP and a member of the Intergroup, said she was "hopping mad" that the pair had supported the complaint without discussion by or the support of the whole group.
Mrs Girling, Conservative chief whip and the party's agriculture spokesman at the European Parliament, warned activists not to invoke Brussels in the controversial issue.
"As a member of the animal welfare group I am really affronted they have done it this way and I cannot see any good coming of it," she added.
"These sort of things don't help and there is no reason for the heavy hand of the EU to intervene.
"You have to ask yourself how much a Danish MEP and a member from the South East of England know about TB in the South West and those who confront it every day."
Mr Taylor, the Green MEP who supported the complaint, said he was concerned that the UK Government was "flouting" the Convention. He said there was a "mountain of evidence" that a cull would be "highly ineffective" in tackling the disease.