Badger cull in Gloucestershire completed

The government has announced that 30% of the local badger population in Gloucestershire was successfully removed over the six week pilot cull that ended this week.

According to figures released by Defra, 708 badgers were removed.

Natural England is now considering an application for an extension from the cull company in Gloucestershire after having granted a short extension to the pilot in Somerset.

Secretary of State for Defra Owen Paterson said: “In view of this, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) has advised that the period of culling this year should be extended to achieve the earliest and greatest possible impact on bTB (bovine TB) in Gloucestershire.”

These pilots have been the first in a planned four-year cull and Paterson emphasised that the pilots have been made to test safety, humaneness and effectiveness of controlled shooting to reduce bTB.

“The early indications are that, as in Somerset, the pilot in Gloucestershire has been safe and humane. Nevertheless, the Gloucestershire pilot has again demonstrated that the cull period may need to be longer than six weeks in future, enabling teams to adapt their approaches to suit local circumstances,” he added.

Paterson said that there was a continuation of good progress “on all aspects or our draft strategy” which aims to eradicate bTB in England in the next 25 years.

Meanwhile, Defra also reported that the number of cattle slaughtered because of bTB in Britain fell by more than 7% earlier in the year before the pilot started.

The number presented was monitored from January to July at 19,988 compared with the same period last year which was 21,581.

The new herd incidents saw a reduction of more than 5%, from 3,039 last year to 2,873 this year and the findings indicate that increased biosecurity and tighter cattle movement controls are working in favour, according to wildlife charity Care for the Wild.

Policy advisor of Care for the Wild Dominic Dyer said: “This is news to celebrate, so we hope that farmers and the government will accept these figures for what they are: a clear sign that we can fight this disease without killing badgers.

“Farmers have been improving practices, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes enforced by EU legislation. Either way, the picture is clear – something is working. So this is not the time to be fighting a battle with badgers, with public opinion, with science or with compassion. It is time to resolve our differences and focus on effective, modern and humane methods of beating this terrible disease.”