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Teachers: Citizenship: Globalisation Environmental

Last Updated: Wednesday April 13 2005 11:54 GMT

Debate: Should we cull animals?

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Globalisation - environmental implications


The state of Wisconsin has two million stray cats, some people are campaigning to legalise shooting them to cut numbers.

Animals across the UK and around the world are being culled. Students examine the reasons for and against such action.

Learning aims

  • To examine the arguments for and against culling animals
  • To hold a formal debate
  • To form counter arguments


    Click below to read the story:

    Ask students:

  • What is the difference between killing and culling?
  • Why might pet cats be at risk?

  • Would there be as much fuss if a less attractive animal was being culled?

    Define the verb to cull:
    a) To reduce the numbers of an animal population by killing some of its members.
    b) To remove an animal, especially a sick or weak one, from a herd or flock.

    Main activity

    Divide the class into five groups. Each group reads a pair of the following stories:

    Note: The proposal is to cull grey squirrels.

    Using information from the stories and their own ideas, half the members of each group write a list of arguments in favour of culling their particular animal, on green cards (one argument per card). This half of each group are the proposers.

    On red cards, the remaining members of each group make a list of arguments against culling the animal mentioned in their stories. They are the opposers.

    Proposers and opposers match up green and red cards showing arguments and counter arguments. If there are any outstanding arguments, the group try to come up with a counter argument and write it on the correct coloured card.

    Each group looks at their arguments to see if they could be used in a debate about culling any other animals (crocodiles, hedgehogs, deer, grey squirrels, seals) and make notes on the cards.

    The cards are divided so that each green proposer and red opposer holds at least one argument card in their hand.

    The teacher nominates four chief speakers from the class:

  • a lead proposer
  • a second proposer
  • a lead opposer
  • a second opposer

    Any spare cards are given to the lead proposer and opposer.

    Using the arguments on their cards, the class hold a debate on the motion:
    Some animals should be culled

    Extension activities

    Students write a personal statement of their opinions. They pick the five main arguments they find most convincing and include them in a report that starts: "I support/oppose culling animals because..."

    Students imagine they are writing a leaflet for either an animal rights group or a pro culling group. They present their arguments in a clear and persuasive fashion, using photographs, illustration, fact boxes and statistics to back up their arguments.

    Students research the arguments for and against culling in greater depth using some of the links on the right hand side of this page.


    Recap on the main arguments for and against culling. Can they be grouped into categories?

    Students share their personal opinions on whether they think animals should be culled or not.

    Ask those students who support culling: Would you still be in favour if you had to pull the trigger or set the trap etc?

    Ask those students against culling to imagine they are farmers or fishermen on a poor wage because of large populations of deer or seals. Would they still feel the same?

    Teachers' background

    Arguments in favour of culling animals:

  • Animals should be culled to protect other species. E.g. Hedgehogs eat the eggs of rare wading birds such as the dunlin, redshank and oystercatcher.

  • Animals should be culled to protect people's way of making a living. E.g. Deer damage farmers' crops and seals make holes in fishermen's nets. A spokesman in favour of seal culling has argued: "It is like someone driving a car through your shop window."

  • Animals need to be culled to stop them eating food sources. E.g. It has been reported that one seal colony in the Outer Hebrides eats 75,000 tonnes of fish every year.

  • The population of certain animals with no predators, such as deer, will keep increasing unless they are culled. E.g. Bears and wolves in Herefordshire no longer pose a threat to deer, which are causing millions of pounds of damage to trees and crops.

  • Culling helps to keep surviving creatures fit and strong. E.g. The Forestry Commission, which employ hundreds of professional deer stalkers, argues that culling leads to healthy deer.

  • Culling animals could generate a lot of cash for local people. E.g. In northern Australia, tourists paying thousands of dollars to go on a crocodile hunt would give poor landowners some much-needed money.

  • The carcases of culled animals are not just burned or buried. They can be used for seal pelt coats or venison (deer meat).

  • Some animals pose a danger to humans. E.g. Saltwater crocodiles in Australia are believed to have killed more than a dozen people in the past 20 years.

  • Some animals are not native to the area and have been introduced by humans. Therefore they can be taken away by man as well. E.g. Hedgehogs were introduced to the Outer Hebridean Islands.

    Arguments against culling animals:

  • There are alternatives to culling.
    E.g. A noise device to deter seals from damaging fishermen's nets.
    E.g. Relocating hedgehogs from an outer Hebridean island to the mainland, rather than killing them.
    E.g. Reducing the main food source available to a type of animal, decreasing their numbers, rather than killing them.

  • Culling is ineffective in the long term as the species will eventually repopulate the area.

  • Evidence suggests that some creatures, such as deer, can keep their own numbers down without the need for culling. A deer specialist has said the number of roe deer in the New Forest have halved over 20 years without culling. The deer in the area naturally had fewer fawns in response to rising numbers.

  • Deciding which animals live or die is interfering with the process of natural selection. It is not man's role to play God.

  • Animals have been here as long as humans and man has no right to kill them.

  • Culling is murder. What if someone decided the UK's human population was too large and wanted to cull millions of people to control the situation?

  • Animals deserve rights and it is not up to humans to make decisions for them.

  • Methods used to cull animals are often brutal, such as clubbing seals.

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