Labour calls for clarity on Gloucestershire badger cull
Labour politicians are calling for more transparency over badger culling in Gloucestershire.
Stroud Labour Party called for clarity on the proposed badger cull pilot due to start in Gloucestershire this month.
After it was suggested Dorset could be on standby as a reserve cull area should the Gloucestershire cull not proceed, David Drew, Labour’s parliamentary candidate, said: “The government’s project to cull badgers in Gloucestershire has been a fiasco from the start.
“We need to know exactly what the government’s plans are for the proposed cull.
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“New figures released by DEFRA show that they expect around 120 shootings will be independently observed out of around 5000. This is a pitifully small number to ensure humane culling methods.
“This comes on top of the financial cost of policing these culls not to mention the animal welfare issues.”
Two pilot culls intended to test the safety, efficacy and humaneness of culling badgers could begin very soon for a period of six weeks in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire.
Supporters of the cull say it is needed to help stop the spread of bovine TB from badgers to cattle.
The Government estimates 28,000 otherwise healthy cattle were slaughtered in the UK last year because of bovine TB.
But opponents suggest the Government should adopt a policy of vaccination instead of a cull.
Labour Stroud District councillor Paul Denney (Cam West) said: “The stop, start process shows this policy is not only ill thought out but also unworkable.
“There will be teams of people with shotguns and rifles culling badgers at the same time as animal rights activists will be trying to save badgers. This is a recipe for disaster unless it is policed in an effective manner, and even then it is the wrong policy.
“We need a clear, unambiguous statement from the government on the next steps to be taken, along with a timetable and a detailed risk assessment for all cull locations.
“We cannot have unsupervised culling at any time. The police, who are already under huge pressure due to the governments cuts, will be stretched to breaking point. The government has a responsibility to be open, transparent and honest and we are not seeing this with the badger cull. It has also to be remembered that not one carcass will be tested for TB”
A DEFRA spokesman said: “The two pilot culls are pilots of a policy, not a scientific study. We already have evidence from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial of bovine TB infection levels in the badger population in the high risk area.
"The safety and humaneness of the badger cull pilots are our absolute priorities.
"Experts will observe and monitor the cull in the field and post-mortems will be carried out for further checks.
"We have listened to advice from an independent expert panel on humaneness to ensure that the monitoring system in place is robust."