Wrexham Council shot dead 30 apparently healthy cows last week in Chirk, North Wales. The exact reasons for the cull remain unclear, though it is said to have been done in the interests of the animals' welfare.
Last Friday, 30 healthy cows, who had apparently escaped from a farm, were subsequently shot dead near a housing estate in Chirk, North Wales.
News reports tell us that the animals were shot in plain sight of local residents between 4.30 and 5.00 pm and their carcasses were left in the field overnight before being taken away by lorry on Saturday morning.
Locals told reporters that they were distraught at what happened, particularly children who had been playing in the area and witnessed the shooting; they say that the incident could have been avoided if the animals had just been penned in more securely.
Apparently, the shooting was undertaken to "prevent further suffering and distress" to the animals, after their escape.
Councillor Hillary Spragg said this was not the first time the animals had escaped on to roads and local gardens, and measures had to be taken to stop it happening again.
The cows were killed by Wrexham Council staff, with the approval of the Assembly Government's Animal Welfare Department. The authorities insist that the animals were destroyed humanely to avoid exposing them to further distress and the public was excluded from the area.
Andy Lewis, Chief Housing and Public Protection Officer for Wrexham Council, said the spot where the animals were destroyed was chosen to protect public safety:
"The public were excluded from the area. The decision on the location used to carry out the destruction of the bovines and the timing of the cull was agreed following risk assessment and in the interests of public safety."
It took only an hour or so for police to round up the cows and once they were all brought together it was decided by council officials that they should be shot dead on "welfare grounds".
Local resident Edward Jones questioned how that could possibly be the case, going on to say:
"To slaughter 30 healthy cows - each worth several hundred pounds - simply because they had escaped from a field is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of."
Wrexham Council confirmed it took the decision to humanely destroy the cattle at Ley Farm in Chirk under Section 18 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. A spokesman said the cull was not due to disease.
A spokesman for the National Farmers' Union said he had no knowledge of the case but added:
"It is very rare not only for cows to escape in such a large number, but that they were shot as well. I cannot think of it happening before."
The incident may result in Court action being taken against the owner of the animals.
Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion in World farming said:
"Details in this case are missing - but clearly it is an extremely bizarre scenario. The action taken by Wrexham Council, with the approval of the Assembly Government's Animal Welfare Department, seems a heavy-handed approach. This situation could surely have been dealt with in a much better way and without this needless waste of life."
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