First badger cull licence issued in Gloucestershire
Natural England has today issued a licence permitting the cull of badgers in West Gloucestershire for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
Application for a licence was made by a specially formed company representing farming and land management interests. It covers around 300 sq km, which is more than 70 per cent of the pilot area in the county.
Natural England has issued the licence having after it said it was "satisfied" that the application meets the strict criteria set out in the Government's bTB policy guidance. That specifies how control operations to prevent the spread of bTB can be carried out.
The licence runs for four years and authorises controlled badger cull within the West Gloucestershire pilot area over a continuous six week period each year for the next four years. No control operations can be carried out during specified close seasons.
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"Under the terms of the licence, and in accordance with the criteria specified in the bTB control policy, licensees will be authorised to reduce badger populations in the pilot area by at least 70 per cent and maximum numbers will be specified to prevent the risk of local extinction," said a spokesman for Natural England.
"Control operations can only commence once Natural England has formally confirmed with the Licensee the specific dates when these operations will take place, the persons authorised to carry them out, confirmation that the necessary funds are in place, and the permitted number of badgers that will be subject to control operations. These formal confirmations are expected to be completed within the next few weeks."
Natural England is continuing to assess a separate licence application relating to the West Somerset pilot area and will look to issue the licence as soon as possible after it is satisfied that the application has met the criteria in the bTB policy guidance.