Dead badgers found in Gloucestershire before cull
DEAD badgers have been discovered by campaigners patrolling woodland in Gloucestershire.
It is believed a pilot cull will start in Gloucestershire this week, with the first shots having already been fired over in Somerset.
But campaigners against the cull have already stumbled upon dead badgers which, they believe, had either been poisoned or baited.
Liz Gaffer, spokesman for Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (Gabs), said: "We have found three dead badgers this weekend.
"They definitely had not been shot so we believe that the cull has not yet started in the county, however from what we have heard we understand it is imminent.
"We have had patrols out for the last five weeks, and we have had more of late, so maybe that is why we are only noticing it now. It could have been happening before, we don't know.
"However, people need to know that they can't just go around killing badgers because of the cull, there are licensed personnel and strict regulations."
About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Supporters say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which can be spread from infected badgers, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective. Andre Guest, deputy chairman of NFU Gloucestershire, was quick to reaffirm the guidelines for the cull.
He said: "We won't support anybody taking this situation into their own hands.
"We want to make sure that the cull goes to plan."
He added: "As far as we are concerned now, we just want to get on with it and get it done."
The target over in West Somerset is between 2,081 and 2,162 badgers – around 50 badgers a day.
Slightly more will be culled in Gloucestershire, bringing the total figure to around the 5,000 mark.
The pilots will not just look at scientific data. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will review a number of factors.
They will look at how humane the cull is. A government agency will carry out sample post mortems to see if the badgers have been shot humanely. The carcasses will not be tested for signs of TB infection.
They will look at how effective (in terms of badger removal) the two badger pilots are. In West Gloucestershire, a target has been set for killing between 2,856 and 2,932 badgers over the six-week period – about 70 badgers a day.
And finally Defra will see how safe the two badger-culling pilots are. On the basis of this evidence, ministers will make a decision on whether to extend the pilots to other areas in England.
Scientific evidence suggests sustained culls of badgers under controlled conditions could reduce TB in local cattle by 12 to 16 per cent after four years of annual culls.