Badger cull extended by eight weeks in Gloucestershire
Natural England has confirmed it has granted a licence to enable badger culling to be continued in the west Gloucestershire pilot area for eight weeks.
Natural England received an application to extend the cull in west Gloucestershire following confirmation that, during the six-week period covered by the original licence, the licensee had been able to cull 30 per cent of the badger population.
The Government’s bovine tuberculosis (bTB) policy seeks to reduce the spread of bTB in cattle through intensive culling over a four-year period to remove at least 70 per cent of the badger population in defined areas.
Where numbers fall short of that target licensees are required to present additional proposals to Natural England of how the target can be met.
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In carrying out its licensing role and assessing the new licence application in Gloucestershire, Natural England has had regard to guidance from Government derived from the bTB control policy and supplementary advice from Defra's Chief Veterinary Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser.
This advice concludes that extending the cull would help to reduce the spread of bTB in cattle; failure to extend would raise the risk of increasing bTB through perturbation.
Under the original licence 708 badgers were culled during a six-week period which ended last week.
The new licence specifies that a minimum number of 540 and a maximum number of 940 badgers can be culled in order to deliver disease control benefits.
The new licence runs from today until 18 December inclusive and supplements the original four-year licence granted in October last year.
As the close season for cage trapping and shooting begins on 1 December, only controlled shooting will be permitted from 1-18 December.
Campaign Group Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting have said today that they will continue with their Wounded Badger Patrols during the eight week extension to the shooting which Natural England has agreed to today.
The extension has come after only 708 badgers were culled in the original six week shooting timeframe agreed by the government, just 24% of the original government target. The government has also said it wants to shoot another 942 in the next 8 weeks.
The Wounded Badger Patrols were set up in response to DEFRA’s report that many badgers were likely to be injured and not shot outright.
Every patroller signs an agreement to say they will only act peacefully and within the law, walking on public footpaths near to where we believe shooting will take place.
Over 400 people have joined the patrols, having donated over 11,700 hours of their time so far.
Jeanne Berry from Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting said “it is unbelievable that the government is determined to pursue a method which is not only costly to the taxpayer, but is clearly ineffective and inhumane. We would urge the government to move to a badger vaccination programme. We have many people on our patrols who now know about badger setts and their behaviour and who would be willing to train to do this.”