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RSPCA badger cull 'extermination' advert deemed misleading by ASA

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 26, 2013

Badgers are being culled in Gloucestershire

Comments (9)

AN advertisement placed by the RSPCA which claimed that badgers were being "exterminated" by the Government was in breach of guidelines, according to a draft judgment by the advertising standards watchdog.

The charity's advertisement against the extended pilot culls taking place in West Somerset and Gloucestershire was headlined "Vaccinate or Exterminate?" and showed a bullet alongside a needle.

Published in the Metro newspaper, it said: "The UK Government wants to shoot England's badgers. We want to vaccinate them – and save their lives."

But more than 100 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), saying the use of the term "exterminate" was misleading because shooting was only being trialled.

The RSPCA told the ASA its claims were backed by estimates that in the cull areas at least 70 per cent of the local badger population would have to be shot for the cull, aimed at controlling bovine TB, to be effective.

"While the culls may not result in the total eradication of badgers in England as a whole," it argued, "it was possible that in certain areas within the cull zones the loss of badgers could be total".

The ASA has provisionally upheld the complaints, saying the RSPCA should not have used the term "exterminate". It was possible, the authority said, that "the number of animals culled could be significantly lower".

"We considered that consumers would not be aware of what proportion of the badger population was expected to be culled as part of the Government's plans and we therefore considered that consumers were likely to interpret the claim to mean that all badgers would be eradicated in the cull areas," it said in a draft ruling.

"On that basis, we concluded the claim was likely to mislead."

The ASA concluded: "The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told the RSPCA not to use language that implied the whole badger population in the cull areas would be culled in future advertising."

An RSPCA spokesman said: "The ASA has not made a judgement so we are unable to comment yet.

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  • GlosAnarchy  |  October 26 2013, 9:42PM

    The ASA will act on one complaint if the advert breaches the relevant code(s), they will and do take action after just one complaint. The many complaints may have just escalated the response and decreased the time frame. They will have talked to the RSPCA and explained the breach(es) of the code, asked for an explanation of their reasons and any defence they might have had, they will then ask for any outstanding issues to be corrected.

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  • twigcat  |  October 26 2013, 8:02PM

    @Swardi I did contact the ASA in support of this advert (ie to complain about the complaints!?). They got back to me and (in a very nice way) assured me it wasn't a numbers game. I know it shouldn't be a popularity contest but I just felt it was important to me to voice my opinion. I hope others maybe did this too.

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  • Neesh71  |  October 26 2013, 7:34PM

    Unbelievable...I am totally behind the RSPCA and their advert as whole areas would have had badgers wiped out. We will look back in a few years a realise what a terrible, disastrous act this cull has been for our wildlife. We all know that Cameron and his rich, landowning friends are behind this cull and soon he will be 'relaxing' the hunting ban so he and his pals can enjoy chasing and watching another poor animal being ripped apart by a pack of baying hounds for their enjoyemnt. I am totally disgusted with this whole thing and am ashamed to be British. There has been censorship of our press which is really disturbing as I thought we had freedom of speech in this country, the police seem in the pocket of the NFU and all scientific evidence, which was paid for by us the taxpayer, has been ignored because it doesn't suit their cruel aims. I will be sharing far and wide the RSPCA advert and the only good thing to come out of this sorry tale is that normal, kind and compassionate people are coming out in their droves and donating their hard earned money (in the time of great financial difficulty) and time to support the badgers and our wildlife.

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  • groundnut  |  October 26 2013, 5:41PM

    Unfortunately the lies are all with Government. This never was to test shooting effectiveness and Humaneness. Even Government put down their low kill numbers to a decrease in the Badger population due to harsh winter weather. But they did not know the numbers in the first place. They still don't and neither do their other puppets Natural England . But they have granted an extension to the Licence, based on no factual knowledge. There is no plan to stop killing Badgers, The DEFRA plan is to roll out this indiscriminate slaughter of Healthy Badgers to other areas of England-- because they do not know how many of those killed are infected. That figure if known would destroy their case in the public's eyes. Because it could be very low, maybe even less than than 10 %. So some 90% of healthy badgers are being slaughtered. Eradication on this basis is one possibility, and a very real one. The Advertising has it right. The other aspect is that after cage trapping Healthy badgers, these badgers without testing for TB are blasted by a shotgun, Owen Paterson has already sanctioned the development of Gas, so indicating a clear intent to slaughter whole setts more quickly and conveniently. And now we have his latest appointment Richard Benyon at Environment Minister , trying to put a case for misleading RSPCA Advertising. These people are desperate that the truth is suppressed. His predecessor David Heath presumably falling out of Favour. A real House of Cards in play. Let me finish on Natural England , a strange title for an organisation involved as it appears to be . In falling in to line and making decisions without any information. And yet it describes itself as follows. "We are here to secure a healthy natural environment for people to enjoy, where wildlife is protected and England's traditional landscapes are safeguarded for future generations." Would you believe anything from the mouth of such MInisters and their Puppet players ??

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  • Emwye  |  October 26 2013, 3:08PM

    Since complaining to ASA many farmers have admitted widespread illegal gassing so it beggars belief that farmers are complaining about use of word "exterminate". On top of that the Government have now issued new licences which ARE NOT trials (the "extensions" are new disease control licences) based on population estimates that vary so wildly that badgers ARE likely to suffer local extermination and it is impossible for the government to demonstrate they will not! It's therefore absurd that this Ad could be banned & am writing to ASA to tell them so!

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  • Swardi  |  October 26 2013, 3:02PM

    It's a shame that it's not possible to contact the ASA to give support to the RSPCA advert, as it's as near to the truth as to make no difference. If the marksmen had killed their original quota in Somerset, given that the numbers had decreased from the previous year by 66%, and IF Owen Paterson had the information on the new numbers of badgers in the kill zone before the shooting started, then extermination is exactly what the Government would have hoped for.

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  • stormkettle  |  October 26 2013, 3:00PM

    Whole families of badgers are being exterminated by thugs with guns. Assassinate or vaccinate badgers ? If you care , you already know where the answer lies.

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  • PixyHarris  |  October 26 2013, 2:50PM

    You can bet Cameron is behind this - he hasn't forgiven the RSPCA for successfully prosecuting his local Hunt. In any case, Paterson's methods of killing badger could lead to extinction: numbers are uncertain; there is a lot of illegal killing and now pregnant badgers are being killed in Gloucs..

    |   17
  • blowhard  |  October 26 2013, 2:13PM

    "But more than 100 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority " What a surprise 99 farmers and a Defra official. They don't like it when others have a say in the matter being the cowards that they are.

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