Animal charities criticise RSPB for publishing ‘wholly unnecessary’ badger-baiting advice

Animal charities have expressed concern over a “wholly unnecessary” RSPB manual which explained how to use honey to bait badgers and give them an electric shock.

Both the RSPCA and the Badger Trust said that they had contacted the RSPB over the guidance, which has been removed from their website.

It comes after The Telegraph revealed that the Bedfordshire Police are looking into the manual after a complaint from Lord Botham that it encouraged the offence of  “cruelly ill-treating a badger” under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

The guidance on how to keep predators out of the bird charity’s reserves said that cotton wool could be soaked with a “honey, syrup, peanut butter or treacle” and attached to an electric fence to give the animal a shock and ensure it stays away.

After being alerted to the manual by Lord Botham’s team the RSPCA described the wording as “concerning” and said that they had “been in touch with the RSPB to share our concerns”.

The charity said that it was under the remit of the police to investigate whether any offences had been committed.

‘Ongoing advice and guidance’

The Badger Trust has also criticised the guidance, saying the advice was “wholly unnecessary and could cause suffering”.

The Trust added: “We have addressed this issue directly with the RSPB, which has assured us that they do not follow this practice, nor would wish anyone else to do so. We are therefore providing ongoing advice and guidance, including on changes to the manual in question.”

A spokesman for the RSPB, which has withdrawn the manual, said that they “never use bait to attract predators to the fences nor encourage others to do so.”

The charity said that they make no secret of the fact that they use “predator-exclusion fencing, some of which is electrified… to protect some of the UK’s most threatened birds, such as stone curlew and lapwing”.

Bedfordshire Police is understood to be appointing an investigating officer to look at the guidance after receiving a complaint from Lord Botham.

Detective Superintendent William Hodgkinson said: “We are reviewing the complaint and enquiries are ongoing to determine whether any crimes have been committed.”

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