Request for badger cull extension condemned
POLICE and crime commissioner Martin Surl has condemned any extension to the badger cull in Gloucestershire.
The cull is set to finish in the county next week, although an application is being considered to extend the cull for possibly another three weeks.
Private companies have been carrying out the cull over the past five weeks, with protesters taking to the countryside to try to bring it to a halt.
Gloucestershire police have been carrying out Operation Themis, their response to the cull.
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Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said yesterday an application was submitted to Natural England applying for an extension, after revelations that initial targets for the cull in Somerset had not been met.
Mr Surl said he was "disappointed" by the news and that cull operators were becoming "more desperate" to meet their figures.
He added: "If a further extension is applied for and granted I feel it may create an unhelpful situation in Gloucestershire.
"The constabulary has put a tremendous amount of effort into its policing operation in response to the cull to ensure it has been – and continues to be – even-handed, impartial and operationally independent.
"Responding to the many and diverse needs of people, whatever their involvement and views about the cull, has been a severe challenge and one I believe they have risen to in the best traditions of the service.
"Expecting them to continue beyond the initial six-week period is asking a great deal, even though I am sure they will respond accordingly.
"My concern is that the cull operators are feeling the pressure and may become more desperate in their attempts to shoot their quota of badgers while the people opposed to the cull are getting equally frustrated, all of which adds up to an unhelpful situation."
Dominic Dyer, policy advisor for Care for the Wild International, said: "Extending the cull is an inevitable last clutch at the straw by the Government and NFU, and highlights yet more flaws in a hopeless policy.
"They failed to shoot as many badgers as they needed to ensure the culling didn't make the situation worse."
Broadcaster and actor Bill Oddie is scheduled to join protesters in Eldersfield tonight to oppose the cull and to go along on a wounded badger patrol.