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- Extension sought to badger cull in Somerset
- Protestors claim to have disrupted process
- Just 850 badgers of original 2,081 target killed so far
OFFICIALS at the RSPCA have labelled the pilot badger cull 'farcical'.
Gavin Grant, chief executive, said: "The six-week trials were intended as a way of testing the effectiveness and humaneness of shooting badgers as a means of controlling bovine TB in cattle.
"If they have failed to kill the numbers needed in the set time frame – then surely it can clearly be judged to be ineffective.
“Frankly this whole situation is a farce. They keep moving the goalposts on how many badgers exist and how many need to be killed, but whatever the figures it is clear that the system has failed."
In response to the announcement, National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall said he understood the companies managing the two pilot areas had gone to great lengths to ensure the operations had been carried out safely and humanely and he welcomed Owen Paterson’s recognition of the work that had been carried out.
He said: “After the Secretary of State’s comments today on the progress that has been made, I want to thank those involved in carrying out what is a very important first step on the long road towards eradicating TB in cattle, in badgers and from our countryside. Safety and humaneness are two important tests.
“I am also pleased to hear confirmation from the government chief vet that the current cull operations in Somerset to date will deliver disease reduction as part of a four-year plan.
“I understand that the company carrying out the cull in Somerset has applied to Natural England to extend the culling period to enhance its disease control. They made this application towards the end of the six-week pilot cull and I understand a decision will be taken this week whether to extend the licence.
“The knowledge learned from these two badger cull pilot areas will be invaluable in helping to deliver future roll out of badger control operations in areas where the incidence of TB is rife.
“Our absolute focus, and that of everyone involved, is disease control. More than 38,000 cattle were slaughtered in Great Britain in 2012 because of bovine TB. These badger cull pilots are a very important first step in what is a 25-year strategy to eradicate this terrible and infectious disease."
ENVIRONMENT Secretary Owen Paterson has just delivered the following statement to the House of Commons:
"The two badger cull pilots, in Somerset and Gloucestershire, were designed to test that controlled shooting is a safe, humane and effective means of reducing badger numbers.
Successfully tackling bovine TB (bTB) in the badger population is a key element in our strategy to rid England of bTB within 25 years.
Today I am announcing to the House that the six-week period of the Somerset TB control pilot cull was completed on 6 October.
Current indications suggest that the pilot has been safe, humane and effective in delivering a reduction in the badger population of just under 60 per cent.
We set ourselves a challenging target of aiming to ensure that 70 per cent of the badger population was removed during the pilot.
The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) has advised that the 60 per cent reduction this year will deliver clear disease benefits as part of a 4-year cull.
However, Natural England are considering an application from Somerset for a short extension of the culling period, as provided for under the agreement with the Company.
The advice of the CVO is that further increasing the number of badgers culled would improve those benefits even further and enable them to accrue earlier.
The targets for this cull were set at the outset on the basis of population estimates carried out in September 2012. This was repeated in August 2013 immediately before the culls started.
The results of this latest exercise show that the estimated number of badgers is significantly fewer in both areas compared to last summer.
In Somerset the latest population estimate is 1,450 compared to 2,400 last year, and in Gloucestershire 2,350 compared to 3,400.
In the six weeks of the cull, 850 badgers have been removed in Somerset.
One of the lessons we have learned already from this pilot is that in order to ensure high levels of safety and humaneness, the cull period may need to be longer than six weeks in future.
The Independent Panel of Experts will consider all the information which has been collated during the culls and it will be made publicly available after the culls have finished.
The cull in Gloucestershire is still on-going and I will make a further statement when the 6 weeks is completed. I understand that this morning Gloucestershire is also submitting an application for an extension to Natural England.
To achieve our aim of ridding England of bTB within 25 years will require long-term solutions and considerable national resolve.
This Government is committed to tackling the disease in all reservoirs and by all available means. Our cattle industry and the countryside deserve no less."
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Can't believe Badger cull is being extended as they failed to kill enough of them! Is there a vaccination trial running too? If not, why not— @heidi_howarth 09 October 2013
ORGANISERS of the controversial badger cull in parts of Taunton Deane and West Somerset are seeking to extend it by three weeks after killing fewer of the animals than anticipated.
An initial six-week culling period finished at the weekend, during which only 850 badgers were killed, a number short of the target of 2,081.
Officials at Defra insist the amount of badgers culled so far will make an impact on cases of bovine TB but it has now emerged the company carrying out the cull will seek an extension.
Opponents of the cull have been carrying out night patrols in the Somerset zone in a bid to disrupt the culling process.