Question mark over future of badger cull
First published Thursday 23 October 2014.
THE roll out of the controversial badger cull across the country remains uncertain after shooters failed to meet minimum targets in one of the cull zones.
The second year of the controversial badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset ended after six weeks at 12pm on Monday.
The culls were part of the Government’s plans to tackle bovine TB in England, which saw over 26,000 TB-infected cattle slaughtered last year.
Marksmen had targets of killing a minimum of 316 badgers in Somerset and 615 in Gloucestershire.
The Humane Society International/ UK said that figures were revealed to Team Badger by a source at Natural England, and show only 253 badgers were shot in Gloucestershire while in Somerset gunmen killed the minimum number.
Defra is yet to confirm the number of badgers killed but previously Environment Secretary Liz Truss said the outcome of this year’s culls would determine if they were rolled out nationwide.
Sources close to Defra are said to have told the BBC that plans to extend the cull will not be rolled out if targets had been missed.
It is also not yet known if there will be an extension to the culls like last year, which still failed to meet the 70% target set by Defra.
No application has yet been made to the licensing company Natural England to extend the culls.
There was added anger from those opposing the cull this year after the Government announced there would be no Independent Expert Panel.
Last year the IEP found the culls to be inhumane and ineffective, and the Badger Trust is waiting a Court of Appeal judgement which will rule whether or not the Government has acted unlawfully by not using an IEP.
A spokesperson for Defra said: “The minimum numbers for this year’s culls have been set using the best available evidence gathered by local experts and signedoff by Defra’s chief scientist.
“All aspects of the culls are being independently audited.
“The numbers of badgers removed during the culls will be analysed, quality assured and audited before release.
“The information on safety and humaneness will also be analysed, quality assured and signed off by the Chief Veterinary Officer.
”Opponents have been out day and night to try to distract shooters. A spokesperson for Somerset Against The Badger Cull said: “During the last six weeks our members have spent uncountable hours walking the walk along the footpaths and lanes of Somerset to register their opposition.
“There’s absolutely no way that this year’s cull can be deemed a success apart from the fact that no member of the public was killed or seriously injured and we hope that today marks the end of this senseless badger cull for good.
“So far, just under 1,300 badgers have been killed in Somerset during the official culls of 2013 and 2014 in a policy labelled crazy by one of the country’s leading animal disease experts.
“And we sincerely hope that 2015 doesn’t see the resumption of badger culling in Somerset or Gloucestershire but if it does we will be out and about campaigning against the badger cull once again.”