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Supplementary badger culling given go ahead in Somerset and Gloucestershire

Government chiefs have given the go ahead for supplementary culling of 1,000 badgers to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset as part of its efforts to clamp down on bovine TB in England.

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Natural England confirmed all criteria had been met to allow the two new licences, lasting five years each, to be issued to the companies operating in the areas.

 

In a letter to the company which will carry out the cull in Gloucestershire, Natural England said the minimum number it should aim to kill was 160 and the maximum was 580.

 

In Somerset, the minimum was 140 and the maximum 610.

 

However, critics said the Government’s move was proof badger culling was not working.

 

Rock star Brian May’s Save Me Trust pointed to findings from the Government’s own Randomised Badger Culling Trial research document which concluded ‘culling badgers can make no appreciable contribution to the control of TB in cattle’.

 

A spokesman added: “The Government have been unable to come up with a single shred of evidence that the cull is actually working.

 

“Many sections of the farming community are now acknowledging that culling badgers is a dead-end, and are seeking solutions that directly address the transmission of the disease in the herd, which is now acknowledged by the vast majority of experts in the field as the real prime mechanism for the propagation of Bovine TB – not badgers.

 

“In the light of current knowledge, the government’s decision to press on with a policy which is already failing, while costing the taxpayer millions of pounds in wasted effort, is extraordinary."

 

Defra said badger culling was part of its long-term strategy for dealing with the disease in England. This included comprehensive cattle controls, including testing to clear disease from infected herds and movement controls to prevent the disease’s re-introduction.

 

A Defra spokesman said: "Earlier this year we announced plans to licence supplementary badger control in areas that have successfully completed intensive culls, allowing them to maintain disease control benefits for many years to come in line with plans set out in the TB strategy.
"Licences for supplementary badger control have been issued for two areas."
The Green party urged the Government to look to Wales ’where scientifically supported techniques including rigorous TB testing, tighter controls on cattle movement, and strict biosecurity measures have led to significant reductions in bovine TB in cattle’.

 

More information about the supplementary culling

  • Operations will be carried out under five-year licences which allow culling to take place every year between June 1 and January 31.
  • Start dates for culling activity within this period will be decided by the licensed companies.
  • Licences only permit badger control to take place outside of the close seasons:
  • Controlled shooting – February 1 to May 31
  • Cage-trapping and shooting – December 1 to May 31
  • Cage-trapping and vaccination – December 1 to April 30
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