GASSING badgers is a “much nicer way” to control them, the Princess Royal has said.
Anne also spoke of her support for genetically modified crops, in staunch opposition to that of her brother, the Prince of Wales, who is well known for being anti-GM.
Appearing on the BBC’s Countryfile programme last night, the keen equestrian suggested eating horsemeat was “worth looking at”, adding that she has tried eating it and found it tasted “very good”.
In a series of wide-ranging interviews on countryside matters, Anne discussed the contentious topic of the recent pilot badger culls, one of which was carried out in Gloucestershire where she lives and farms.
An independent report on the pilots found the level of culling needed to bring about a reduction in TB in cattle could not be achieved by “controlled shooting”. Asked about alternatives to shooting, Anne said most people “will tell you that gas is a much nicer way of doing it, if that’s not a silly expression”.
She explained: “Because of the way it works. And how it works is that you go to sleep, basically.”
Her remarks have angered animal rights groups, who argue that gassing is inhumane. The control method was banned by the Government in 1982.
The princess said: “I don’t believe shooting was ever a particularly good way of dealing with it.”
She said that the feared spread of TB to cattle was not the only reason to cull badgers, which she said were getting out of control in some areas, causing problems for other species such as hedgehogs, bees and ground-nesting birds.
The former British eventing champion was asked about her comments at the World Horse Welfare charity conference last year, where she said a debate was needed on the horsemeat trade in this country. Discussing how the recession left many horse-owners abandoning them after no longer being unable to afford them, the royal suggested that selling them on for meat would add value to them. Asked if she has ever eaten horse meat, she replied “Oh certainly”, adding that it tasted “very good actually”.
The princess’s comments on both the badger cull and horse meat were condemned by executive director of Humane Society International UK Mark Jones.
“It is extremely disappointing that a prominent member of the royal family should endorse the gassing of a supposedly protected indigenous wild mammal,” he said. “Gassing experiments carried out at Porton Down in the early 1980s were abandoned because of the appalling levels of suffering to which the badgers were exposed.”
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said last year gassing badgers was being considered but would only happen if proven to be humane and effective.
During the programme Anne also said that farming issues will be a “very important part” of the Duke of Cambridge’s life in years William has been taking an agriculture course at the University of Cambridge to give him a good grounding for his future role running the Duchy of Cornwall, a portfolio of land, property and investments he will inherit from his father the Prince of Wales when Charles becomes king.
She said both he and his brother, Prince Harry, had been taught about farming since an early age.