Badger cull latest: target not met in Gloucestershire, extension to be decided
THE Government has fallen short of its target number of badgers it wanted culled in Gloucestershire, Defra has revealed.
In the six weeks, only 708 badgers have been culled, according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
This only represents 30 per cent of the revised local badger population of 2,350.
The original target set by Defra was around 2,850 when the cull first started six weeks ago, and 70 per cent of the population.
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Defra also confirmed the cull in Gloucestershire came to an end two days ago, and an extension is now being considered in light of the figures today.
A statement from Defra read: "The Chief Veterinary Officer has advised that the period of culling this year should be extended to achieve the earliest and greatest possible impact on bovine TB in Gloucestershire.
"Natural England is therefore considering an application for an extension from the cull company in Gloucestershire.
"The pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have been testing the safety, humaneness and effectiveness of controlled shooting as a means of reducing badger numbers and therefore reducing the high levels of disease in these areas.
"The early indications from Gloucestershire are that, as in Somerset, the pilot has been safe and humane."
Mr Paterson said: "As previously announced, the badger population in Gloucestershire immediately before the pilot began was estimated to have fallen to 2,350 compared with an estimated population of 3,400 last summer.
"The pilots held this year are the first stage in a planned four-year cull. Three of the areas of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial also had a slow start.
"These areas saw an increase in the numbers of badgers removed in subsequent years and went on to contribute to overall disease benefits.
"Having the two separate pilot areas has similarly enabled us to see how different environmental factors, field and other conditions affect the practical delivery of our objectives.
"Experience gained on the ground has been invaluable. I would like to pay tribute to the local farmers and landowners who are undertaking the cull, often in difficult terrain and weather, and often in the face of intimidation by a small minority who are determined to stop this disease control policy.
"The early indications are that, as in Somerset, the pilot in Gloucestershire has been safe and humane.
"Nevertheless, the Gloucestershire pilot has again demonstrated that the cull period may need to be longer than six weeks in future, enabling teams to adapt their approaches to suit local circumstances."
A decision on the extension for the cull in Gloucestershire is set to be announced later.
An extension was given for Somerset until November 1 to hit their targets.
The independent panel of experts will now consider the information from the pilot culls before any further action is taken.
All reaction soon.