Gassing badgers 'nicer' way to cull, says Britain's Princess Anne

Britain's Princess Anne said gassing badgers was a "much nicer" way to cull them than shooting, in an interview to be aired Sunday.

File picture shows Britain's Princess Anne (L) and Princess Beatrice at Royal Ascot, in Berkshire, west of London

Queen Elizabeth II's daughter discussed the recent pilot badger culls -- which took place in Gloucestershire, southwest England, where she lives and farms -- aimed at curbing the spread of tuberculosis in cattle.

An independent report on the pilots found the level of culling needed to bring about a reduction in bovine TB had not been achieved by the shooting of free-running badgers.

Anne, 63, told BBC television that "most of the people who did it in the past will tell you that gas is a much nicer way of doing it, if that's not a silly expression, because of the way it works.

"And how it works is that you go to sleep, basically."

Bovine TB has wiped out a third of one herd on Anne's Gatcombe estate in the past two years.

The princess said that leaving the cattle issue aside, badgers were getting out of control in some areas, causing problems for bees, ground-nesting birds and hedgehogs.

"From a conservation issue alone, you'd have to say there are too many badgers. A bigger growth in the badger population is not good for the balance of conservation anyway."

Humane Society International UK executive director Mark Jones said: "Any attempt to reintroduce gassing would doubtless result in a slow and painful death for many badgers, and potentially other non-target animals."

Anne, who is 11th in line to the throne, also backed genetically-modified crops to feed the world's growing population.

Her older brother Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, is known for his trenchant opposition to GM food.

"They do add to our abilities to perhaps be more efficient users of the land that is good," Anne said.

"In the long term, when you've got the prospect of nine billion to feed, you are going to need some help in doing that, and to do it well.

"There are some things which, even if you don't like the sound of it yourself, you know that it's got to a point where you're not going to stop it."

Anne is a former European eventing champion but raised eyebrows last year following the horsemeat scandal in Europe -- where equine flesh was being passed off as beef in processed meat products -- when she suggested eating more horsemeat.

She told the BBC horses were abandoned because recession-hit owners did not think they were worth the cost of keeping them.

"The meat trade adds value to the animal so there is some point in keeping it healthy if it's got an end point that it can go to," the royal said.

Anne, whose title is the Princess Royal, said she had eaten horse and it was "very good, actually".

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